Different students at different schools have different needs. When we analyzed student achievement data from multiple measures and through the lens of student groups, we saw an immediate need to provide additional reading intervention to help students recover from the effects of the pandemic. Yet, due to staffing shortages, we knew we could not provide the level of personalized support each student needed.
Thanks to a data-driven approach to tutoring, we have been able to help our students increase their growth and confidence in reading. In fact, in the fall of 2022, our students who participated in tutoring showed greater growth on the Renaissance Star Reading assessment than students who did not participate.
Here are five strategies we have implemented to create an effective high-impact tutoring program.
1. Use data to design an intentional program.
In 2022, we partnered with Littera Education to design and deliver a tutoring program that would work within our Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) framework. Working closely with Littera’s Design Services Team, we were able to transform our data analysis practices and evidence into actionable insights. This helped us determine which students would benefit from extra support and the best times to schedule tutoring sessions to impact achievement.
In April, three of our elementary schools began working with Littera virtual tutors and the Tutoring Management System (TMS). Students were selected for tutoring based on their reading assessment data and recommendations from their teachers and principal. Without a tech-enabled solution like the TMS, we would not be able to serve as many students as we do. It gives us the ability to implement a tutoring program in as few or as many schools as needed, while taking care of administrative tasks such as scheduling, tutor-student matching, and program reporting.
2. Implement tutoring at least three days a week.
Our goals with our tutoring program are to help students with skill recovery and provide the intervention they need to meet grade-level standards. We know research shows that tutoring is most likely to be effective when delivered in programs with three or more sessions per week. So, our students receive tutoring at least three times a week for 30 minutes a day during the school day or after school. They meet with their tutor in a secure virtual classroom with embedded lessons, live audio/video, and an interactive whiteboard.
Group size is another important design principle. Our students participate in 1:1 and 1:2 sessions so tutors can deliver the reading tutoring curriculum based on student need.
3. Match students with a consistent tutor.
Our students are paired with the same tutor for every tutoring session. That consistent connection is important. It builds rapport between the tutor and the student. Students get to have one more caring adult in their lives, and they enjoy that relationship. They look forward to seeing their tutors and celebrating their growth.
4. Adjust as needed.
Progress monitoring is also an essential part of our program. As tutors log student attendance, session feedback, and skills progression, we can monitor students’ progress in real-time. This data helps our principals ensure that students stay in the tutoring for the right length of time. We want to provide a research-based intervention, but only for the duration that each student needs that support–not necessarily for the whole school year.
5. Measure results.
We examined our Star Reading assessment to gather insights into our students’ literacy growth in the fall of 2022. On average, students who completed tutoring sessions between the pre- and post-assessments improved their scaled scores by 62.85 points, compared to an average improvement of 33.63 points for students who did not participate in the tutoring. In addition, our students who participated in the tutoring were 16 percentage points more likely to improve their scores, test over test, than students who did not participate.
This school year, three of our middle schools also launched high-impact tutoring to provide personalized support for students in math. At the district level, we appreciate having an intervention we can use and expand, even in the midst of staffing shortages. With virtual tutors and a tech-enabled platform, we can reach more students without having to worry about staffing concerns or the work traditionally associated with monitoring student progress.
Using data to drive our tutoring program, we are able to prioritize students who have fallen behind. We are closing learning gaps and eliminating opportunity gaps. The only thing that would be better is if we had started earlier, but we are making the most of our time now.
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