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Tutoring isn’t reaching most students. Here’s how to vastly expand it.

Aug 1

29th March 2023, 09:14 GMT Ms. Karen Nelson | Education Staff Writer


Tutoring was supposed to be schools’ secret weapon — a way to reverse pandemic learning loss before students fell even further behind.


But three years after COVID closed schools, and with the deadline to spend pandemic recovery funds fast approaching, many students still aren’t getting the help they need. By some estimates, just 1 in 10 students — or fewer — are receiving intensive tutoring.


The good news? Experts say it’s still possible to drastically expand tutoring. Millions more students can get the help they need, the experts said, if leaders are willing to do what it takes.


“There is an enormous need right now,” said Naeha Dean, chief strategy officer of Accelerate, a nonprofit that funds research on effective tutoring. “We really can’t wait.”


Most schools say they offer tutoring, yet few students actually receive it. Why?


One big reason is that tutoring is often held after school, which all but ensures low participation. Families must consent to after-hours tutoring and figure out transportation, and students must show up. Each step shrinks the pool of participants.


During-school tutoring side steps those challenges, allowing most students to attend. Students also tend to take tutoring more seriously during school than after, when programs often feature snacks and playtime alongside academics.


Most importantly, tutoring during school is more effective. A 2020 research review found that the academic impact of tutoring during school is roughly twice as large as tutoring after school.


“The science tells us that students are much more tuned in, plugged in, not fatigued, ready to engage, during the school day,” said Jen Mendelsohn, co-founder of Braintrust, which runs school tutoring programs.


It can be tough to squeeze tutoring into the school day, but experts say it’s possible by repurposing existing class periods or creating new ones. For example, the charter school organization Uncommon Schools shaved a few minutes off each period, freeing up 30-40 minutes each day for teachers to tutor small groups.

After-school tutoring just isn’t feasible for some families, said Juliana Worrell, Uncommon’s K-8 chief of schools. “So what we have concentrated on is incorporating tutoring into our actual school day.”


Many school leaders say they can’t find or afford enough tutors. Luckily, one solution is already in the building.

Nationwide, schools employ more than 880,000 paraprofessionals, or classroom aides, who assist teachers and support students with disabilities. That’s more than the number of principals, guidance counselors, and school librarians combined.,hogarth-house,-136-high-holborn-london-greater-london-wc1v-6pxz-lG2NAJRtjQA.html