More than ever before, community tutoring programs have the potential to fundamentally transform K12 education. When starting a community tutoring program, it is imperative to maximize your potential based on the resources available to you and the greatest identified needs. By creating a model that outlines your program’s goals, activities, and expected outcomes, you can identify potential challenges and be equipped to evaluate your program’s success.
An overview of the five key steps you need to take to build such a model is provided below.
Step 1: Needs
Performing a community landscape analysis allows you to evaluate the full context in which you are operating. In a landscape analysis, data collection and information-gathering activities are used to identify a community’s strengths, resources, and needs. During this exploration period, your ultimate objective is to clearly define beneficiaries and community needs.
It is important to balance several strategies for collecting intelligence. You must consider the stakeholders who will contribute to your program and ask the tough questions:
Once you have compiled information, it is critical to evaluate the community’s strengths, gaps, needs, opportunities, and threats. If there is a clear opportunity, the next step is to share your findings and align with your stakeholders. The elegant part of this last step is that, if done correctly, you will build buy-in for your program.
- Do the students need tutoring in the first place?
- Does the district or school currently have access to a tutoring program?
- What are the strengths of current academic support in the community?
Step 2: Inputs
The next step after completing your needs assessment is to ensure access to all critical resources. Students and tutors are among these resources, as well as curriculum, physical space, and sustainable funding. The capacity to scale without digital solutions must also be assessed. These solutions include rostering, matching, scheduling, and maintaining all of the data required by funders for reporting. Also, examine, as well as legal and safety restraints.
When assessing your tutor resources, It is imperative to clarify where the tutors will come from. You have to ask the difficult questions, for example:
- Will local universities participate, or will I need to recruit on campus?
- Is there a willingness to source tutors across other supply options, such as retired teachers, non-profits, community groups, volunteers, etc.?
- Will some tutoring be conducted online for logistical reasons?
Step 3: Actions
Once your needs and Inputs have been aligned, it’s time to create a clear path. In order to execute your strategy, you need to assemble a step-by-step plan that utilizes all of your newly acquired critical network and data.
Repeatable and scalable actions are needed. Every program will come with its own set of challenges, so planning well in advance is crucial. Here are a few examples.
- In some cases, districts may provide very narrow insight into which students should be tutored.
- School schedules are often constructed in downtime (Summer), making advocating for tutor slots a timely exercise
- If the tutoring program is left to administer assessments, timing and choosing the assessment tool can slow things down considerably. This is especially true if you have varied core curriculum approaches across multiple districts.
- Challenges in hiring tutors, including:
- If you are using university students as tutors who need clinical experience, how well are your training materials aligned with the University’s approach?
- What are the criminal background check requirements in your state?
- Do criminal background check requirements vary from district to district?
Step 4: Outputs
Outputs are immediate goals that you can (most often) quantify. These goals can include a host of different metrics to help you guide the timeline and overall impact that your program is making as you begin the initial stages of implementation.
It is imperative that the output component of a logic model does not measure success. These are merely metrics needed to understand how well you are executing. There are many outputs in a logic model. As an example, based on your program’s design, you might track:
- The number of tutors that apply are trained and tutor their first session.
- How many tutors report that they are enjoying the tutoring?
- How often are tutor managers interacting with tutors over a specific period?
- How many students feel like they are learning what they need to learn in a certain amount of sessions?
- How many students increased their GPA across a semester or a single year?
Step 5: Impact
In the final section of a logic model, you define your short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals. In addition to quantitative goals, qualitative goals can also be set. The National Student Support Accelerator recommends focusing your impact measurement on three key areas: learning, skills, and conditions.
Measures of learning can vary but are usually related to assessments, improvement gaps covered, and general attitudes toward learning. Also, by regularly gathering data on social-emotional learning (SEL), you can get a sense of student sentiment.
Ultimately, the ability to teach oneself is a key goal, usually measuring studying habits and approaches to learning that build curiosity. It’s important to measure performance in order to understand the sustainability of the program. You should stay focused on the question, “Are students (and tutors) more confident academically, and more proud of their achievements than they were before tutoring?”
It is difficult to create a comprehensive logic model for your tutoring program, especially one that involves the community. Nonetheless, without this crucial work, you will inevitably hit roadblocks, which will slow things down and possibly halt progress. Furthermore, the actual process of assembling a logic model is equally as important to the information gathered. During this journey, you will establish connections with the stakeholders necessary to realize your vision. When you gain community input and buy-in on your project, you greatly increase your chances of success.
For the most comprehensive guide to building a logic model for your tutoring program, we highly recommend spending some time leveraging the resources on the National Student Support Accelerator (NSSA) website. Once on the NSSA website, click on the Toolkits tab in the menu. Here you will find a treasure trove of resources.
At Pearl, we work with our partners to create a logic model so that they implement tutoring programs that actually work. If you are interested in learning more about how we can help you create an evidence-based logic model, shoot us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.