What is high-dosage tutoring?
High-dosage tutoring is a school-based learning intervention with five key components:
- Size: Students are tutored one-on-one or in small-group sessions, with no more than four students per tutor.
- Content: Tutors use high-quality instructional materials that align with classroom content.
- Frequency and duration: Students receive at least three tutoring sessions per week, with each session lasting at least 30 minutes.
- Schedule: Sessions are held during school hours.
- Personnel: Tutors are professionally trained and receive ongoing support and coaching, and students meet with the same tutor each session.
Is high-dosage tutoring effective?
High-dosage tutoring is one of the few school-based interventions with demonstrated significant positive effects on both math and reading achievement. When the five criteria above have been met, high-dosage tutoring programs:
Who has access to high-dosage tutoring?
Unfortunately, districts and schools face numerous challenges in implementing high-dosage tutoring programs, including labor shortages, the logistical burden of training tutors, rescheduling the school day to make time for tutoring, and vetting tutoring services run by outside companies. With Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds due to sunset in late 2024, funding concerns rank among the most pressing challenges facing school leaders seeking to implement and maintain high-dosage tutoring programs. This is particularly concerning in light of estimates that it will take three to five years to recover learning loss at the current rate of recovery—time that many older students do not have.
The effects of these challenges are clear: Only 37 percent of public schools are offering high-dosage tutoring, according to estimates from the School Pulse Panel. Nationwide, roughly 1 in 10 students are participating in high-dosage tutoring. Despite the strong evidence base behind these programs, not enough schools are able to offer high-dosage tutoring, and not enough students are able to participate.
Strategies to ensure equitable access to high-dosage tutoring
1. Designate long-term funding for high-dosage tutoring
With COVID-19 relief funds set to expire in September 2024, Congress must consider providing additional long-term funding opportunities for public schools to implement and maintain high-dosage tutoring programs, particularly those serving higher numbers of low-income students.
2. Continue to grow awareness and reach of the National Partnership for Student Success
The National Partnership for Student Success (NPSS) is a partnership between the Department of Education, AmeriCorps, and the Johns Hopkins Everyone Graduates Center that aims to supply 250,000 tutors and mentors in K-12 public schools over the next three years. Additionally, the NPSS support hub offers free technical assistance and resources for districts, states, and organizations looking to increase the number of students receiving high-dosage tutoring. The federal government must market this important work to states and schools to increase awareness and utilization of the services provided.
3. Expand the federal work-study program
College students are currently allowed to serve as reading tutors for grades pre-K-6 under the federal work-study program; but Congress should consider amending the legislation to allow college students to serve as tutors in all academic subject areas for grades pre-K-12. Additionally, federal-, state-, and district-level policymakers must emphasize the importance of providing quality training for these college students to meet the criteria for effective high-dosage tutoring.
4. Collect more robust data on tutoring
The Department of Education should implement efforts to collect in-depth data on tutoring participants and make these data publicly accessible. This would help create a stronger public understanding of the programming actually occurring in schools and enable policymakers and educational leaders to make evidence-based decisions. Additionally, the Department of Education could consider clarifying the Every Student Succeeds Act’s required accountability indicators to include student participation in high-dosage tutoring programs as an “opportunity dashboard” indicator.
Given the extent of learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, policymakers must work to support programs that address student needs and ensure equitable educational opportunity in the years to come. High-dosage tutoring is a proven strategy for recovering learning loss and providing targeted support for struggling students. Through designating long-term funding for tutoring, amplifying the National Partnership for Student Success, expanding the federal work-study program, and collecting more robust data on access and participation, the federal government can play a vital role in scaling up high-dosage tutoring programs for student success.