Center for American Progress

Fact Sheet: Scaling Up High-Dosage Tutoring Is Crucial to Students’ Success
Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet: Scaling Up High-Dosage Tutoring Is Crucial to Students’ Success

This fact sheet outlines the state of learning loss in the United States and the necessity of implementing high-dosage tutoring programs to accelerate learning and ensure student success.

A retired teacher leads a math tutoring session with middle school students.
A retired teacher leads a math tutoring session with middle school students in Greensboro, North Carolina, on November 30, 2022. (Getty/The Washington Post/Ted Richardson)

Extensive research has pointed to high-dosage tutoring as a highly effective intervention to recover the dramatic learning loss following the COVID-19 pandemic. However, not all forms of tutoring show the same promise, and districts require additional support to implement the most successful programs.

Read the full issue brief

A new Center for American Progress issue brief explores the evidence behind high-dosage tutoring programs and how these programs can be used to address learning loss, level the playing field for students from marginalized backgrounds, and provide additional holistic accountability indicators for use in school improvement strategies. This fact sheet highlights findings from the brief as well as recommendations to ensure students have equitable access to high-dosage tutoring interventions across the United States.

Fast facts on learning loss

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.

Conclusion

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.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.

Authors

Allie Pearce

Former Policy Analyst

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