What is Academic Tutoring?

Academic tutoring is a form of teaching, one-on-one or in a small group, towards a specific goal. High-impact tutoring leads to substantial learning gains for students by supplementing (but not replacing) students’ classroom experiences. High-impact tutoring responds to individual needs and complements students’ existing curriculum. Research from the Annenberg Institute at Brown University recommends that academic tutoring programs 1) have tutors that are well-trained and supported, or are teachers, retired teachers, or teaching candidates; 2) have tutors that have time for planning and collaboration with classroom teachers; 3) offer tutoring at least three times per week, for 30 minutes per session (“high-dosage”); 4) align with an evidence-based curriculum; and 5) occur at school during the school day whenever possible.

Technical assistance for academic tutoring at the Hub will be led by Accelerate and the National Student Support Accelerator.

Why Implement Academic Tutoring?

For years, families with financial means have hired tutors to support their children and help them through tough academic periods or catch up when they fall behind. In fact, approximately $47 billion was spent on tutoring in the US in 2020 (Global Industry Analysts, 2020). Recent research shows us why. Tutoring, when provided in high-dosage with a consistent tutor in small groups with instruction driven by data, has shown to provide substantial benefits for students (Nickow, Oreopoulos and Quan, 2020). When compared to other school-based interventions in high school math, such as technology support and professional development, high-impact tutoring results in over three times the learning gains with more than a year of additional learning for some programs (Cook et al, 2015; Lynch et al, 2019; Salvin et al, 2009).

Rarely do we have so much evidence pointing to the promise of a specific approach. Researchers have performed over 150 random control trials showing positive effects of tutoring across grade levels and subject areas with effects ranging from half a year to more than a year of learning over one academic year of tutoring in most cases. For students from lower income families, tutoring is one of the most impactful educational approaches. A 2017 study examined interventions that aimed to improve the educational achievement for students from low socioeconomic backgrounds in elementary and middle school. Of all the interventions examined, tutoring was both the most common and the most effective (Dietrichson, Bøg, Filges, Klint Jørgensen, 2017).

Additional Resources