Education Week - May 11, 2022 - 15
recognize that top-quality tutoring
programs require changes in the way
schools operate. Daily schedules
might need to change. New partnerships
need to grow: between teachers
and tutors, districts and outside
organizations like AmeriCorps. New
systems must emerge to hire, train,
pay, and support tutors, and to follow
Without this kind of " organizational
commitment, " Kraft said, tutoring
risks being a " one-off or add-on " that
risks falling apart a year or two after
How one district is scaling up
Guilford County Schools, in North
Carolina, is building a tutoring program
that's drawn notice for its attention
to research-based design and
practice. The district has restructured
fundamental operations to make a
home for the program, setting up a
special department devoted to hiring,
training and supporting its tutors, and
tracking students' participation and
The district started small, hiring
eight college students in the fall of
2020 and focusing on math tutoring
in its Title I middle and high schools,
since that's where research suggested
the biggest academic impacts of
COVID had landed, said Faith Freeman,
who oversees Guilford's tutoring
This spring, the program has grown
to 500 paid tutors-a blend of high
school students, undergraduate and
graduate students, community members,
and teachers-who work with
4,000 of its 70,000 students. They're
working on math K-12, literacy and
science K-8, and middle-school social
studies, Freeman said.
To choose students, the district uses
an algorithm that blends risk factors
such as grades, test data, course failures,
and absenteeism. Students are
" highly recommended, " though not
required, to attend tutoring sessions,
Freeman said. Schools must hold sessions
at least weekly, but are encouraged
to hold them two to three times
per week, she said.
Choosing who gets tutoring is still
hotly debated. Some favor providing
tutoring to all students, to destigmatize
being " chosen, " and to ensure
that no one falls through the cracks.
Others, like Guilford, intentionally
target high-need groups, since scarce
resources must be used sparingly.
Most of Guilford's 126 schools have
clusters of students who are being
tutored. Each school can schedule
programs in ways that suit them best.
Some have dedicated tutoring blocks
in their schedules, while others have
tutors work with students, off to the
side, during regular class time.
Ninety-two percent of the district's
tutoring occurs in-person, during the
regular school day, but some happens
after school or virtually, Freeman
said. (Much is still unknown about
the effectiveness of online tutoring,
but promising studies are starting to
There is less flexibility in other aspects
of Guilford's program. Tutors
must work with the same group of
students over time, which research
shows boosts effectiveness, since
it builds relationships that support
instruction. Tutors must also work
weekly with teachers, observing instruction,
debriefing on students'
needs and progress, and planning
next steps, Freeman said.
A long-term commitment, with
Guilford's program is currently supported
largely with federal COVIDrelief
money, which runs out in
2024, a timeline that has made
many districts gun-shy about making
multiyear instructional investments.
But Freeman said the district
sees tutoring as a long-haul commitment
strategy, even though its leaders are
not yet sure how they'll pay for it
two years from now.
Families tell teachers and district
leaders about the positive effects tutoring
has had on their students, Freeman
said. (The district doesn't yet
have complete data on its impact on
achievement.) The program is creating
jobs in its community, and making
tutoring available for many who can't
afford it privately, she said.
The district's program also supports
graduate students at local universities,
since it funds those positions
for students who are paid to tutor in
Guilford. It also sees its program as an
investment in the teacher pipeline. It
chose North Carolina A&T State University,
a historically Black institution
and a prodigious producer of Black
engineers, as one of its tutoring partners,
both to mirror the diversity of its
own student population, and, hopefully,
channel more teachers of color
into its classrooms.
As districts around the country
consider and plan their own tutoring
programs, they'll probably need
to draw on a variety of tutors, Kraft
said: certified teachers, who carry
the highest price tag, as well as paraprofessionals,
college students, and
outside tutoring organizations.
Because so many are launching
big programs so quickly, their impact
might be disappointing, sparking
a backlash, Kraft said. He urged
districts to plan carefully, think longterm,
and resist quick conclusions.
" It would be premature to decide
whether or not to stay the course on
tutoring based on the experience of
trying to scale it up over one to two
years in the midst of a pandemic, "
he said. " It's a human-intensive endeavor,
and hard to standardize with
fidelity in a top-down kind of way. It's
going to take time and dedication,
and commitment to iteration and
Online Tutoring Can Be Effective, Research Shows
By Catherine Gewertz
School districts across the country
are turning hopeful eyes to tutoring
programs as a way to help children recover
academically from the COVID-19
pandemic. Research shows that welldesigned
face-to-face tutoring can be
a powerful ally. But there was little
evidence that it could be done effectively
That's starting to change. Two new
studies from Spain and Italy offer encouraging
signs that tutoring online
can work to help children complete
The findings are particularly noteworthy
now, as schools search for as
many good learning-recovery options
as they can find. COVID-19 has not
disappeared, and though the likelihood
of widespread school closures
appears to be low right now, it might
not stay that way.
A paper published last month by
researchers in Spain documents the
effects of an online math tutoring
program provided for about 175
students 12 to 15 years old in Madrid
and Catalonia in the spring of 2021,
when schools had reopened after
The tutors were math teachers
who'd undergone 15-20 hours of additional
training in skills that included
Each tutor worked with groups of
two students for eight weeks. After
school, when students were at home,
they went online to connect with
their tutors for three 50-minute sessions
per week. They worked on math
skills and concepts, but the tutors also
helped students build good work routines
and supported their emotional
The researchers found that compared
to a control group, students in
the tutoring program had higher standardized
test scores and grades, and
were less likely to repeat a grade. They
also were more likely to report putting
increased effort into their schoolwork.
Researchers estimated that the rise
in the students' grades was equivalent
to the bump that six additional
months of learning would produce.
Charvi Goyal, 17, holds an online math tutoring session with a junior high student in January 2021 in Plano, Texas.
Test scores, attendance, rise after
A paper published in February 2021
focuses on an Italian tutoring program
delivered by volunteer university students
to middle school students from
backgrounds in the spring of 2020,
when schools were shut down.
The 523 tutors were from a Milan
university; the 1,000 student recipients
were from 76 schools all over Italy. The
students completed online, self-paced
training modules designed by pedagogy
experts. Those same experts supported
the tutors in their work during the program.
tutor was assigned to one student,
and worked with that student for
the entire program, connecting online
three to six hours per week, for a total
average of about 17 hours over the
course of the program, which covered
math and language arts.
Using pre- and post-tutoring tests
and surveys, the researchers found
the program improved students'
scores on standardized tests, their
attendance, the amount of time they
devoted to homework, and their
sense of well-being.
Those effects didn't vary by the type
of device the students used; the impacts
were the same for students who
used smart phones as those who used
laptops or other computers. But whichever
device they used, effectiveness did
drop for students who struggled to keep
a good internet connection.
An American team of researchers,
led by Matthew Kraft at Brown University,
found only modest effects
from an online tutoring program administered
to Chicago middle school
students in the spring of 2021. They
theorized that impacts were small
because students received only about
three hours of tutoring over the 12
weeks of the program.
Interesting insights about online
tutoring are emerging from a big research
project based at Brown University's
Annenberg Institute for School
Reform. Launched in 2020, the National
School Support Accelerator
Project is working with 12 pilot sites
around the country as they scale up different
models of tutoring. The project
has also built a range of support tools
to help districts launch good-quality
Annenberg Institute director Susanna
Loeb, who supervises the Accelerator
project, said its pilot sites are developing
online and in-person models, structured
in a variety of ways. Those building
virtual programs have noticed that
they tend to work better if the student is
at school during online sessions.
The dynamics behind that effect
aren't yet clear, but Loeb said it seems
less important for the tutor to be on
campus than for the student. If that
model works, it could ease one of the
biggest stumbling blocks in bringing tutoring
programs to scale: hiring enough
A model in which tutors remain
online, while students are at school,
opens up the possibility of drawing on
a national pool of tutors, Loeb noted. It
could also help schools locate tutors
with niche or harder-to-find skills.
EDUCATION WEEK | May 11, 2022 | www.edweek.org | 15
Education Week - May 11, 2022
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - May 11, 2022
Education Week - May 11, 2022
Why Misusing ‘Groomer’ as a Political Smear Is Especially Dangerous
School Sports Are Back. Where Are the Athletes?
What the Research Says
‘It Can Save Lives’: Students Testify To the Power of Poetry
Key Takeaways From Praying-Coach Case While U.S. Supreme Court Deliberates
1 in 5 Educators Say They’ve Experienced Long COVID
A Flood of Federal Cash and Then Layoffs. What Gives?
With Millions of Kids on the Line, Can Schools Make Tutoring Work?
Online Tutoring Can Be Effective, Research Shows
What Is Culturally Responsive Teaching?
What Should Culturally Relevant Teaching Look Like Today?
What If We Treated Public Education Like the Crisis It Is?
Why Students Can’t Tell Fact From Fiction Online
Letters to the Editor
EdWeek Top School Jobs
Hardest Year Ever? One Teacher’s View
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - Education Week - May 11, 2022
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - CW2
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - 1
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - Briefly Stated
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - 3
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - School Sports Are Back. Where Are the Athletes?
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - What the Research Says
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - ‘It Can Save Lives’: Students Testify To the Power of Poetry
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - 7
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - Key Takeaways From Praying-Coach Case While U.S. Supreme Court Deliberates
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - 9
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - 9A
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - 1 in 5 Educators Say They’ve Experienced Long COVID
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - 11
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - A Flood of Federal Cash and Then Layoffs. What Gives?
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - 13
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - With Millions of Kids on the Line, Can Schools Make Tutoring Work?
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - Online Tutoring Can Be Effective, Research Shows
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - What Is Culturally Responsive Teaching?
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - What Should Culturally Relevant Teaching Look Like Today?
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - 18
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - 19
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - What If We Treated Public Education Like the Crisis It Is?
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - Why Students Can’t Tell Fact From Fiction Online
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - Letters to the Editor
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - EdWeek Top School Jobs
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - Hardest Year Ever? One Teacher’s View
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - CW3
Education Week - May 11, 2022 - CW4