3 Ways to Make Starting a Successful K-12 Tutoring Program Easier

3 Ways to Make Starting a Successful K-12 Tutoring Program Easier

In the world of tutoring, addressing changes, solving challenges and fostering growth are at the forefront of everything we do. The challenges are even greater when it comes to K-12 education and the need to mitigate and prevent learning loss. Many school districts across the country have launched “Grow-Your-Own” tutoring programs – all with the best intentions but not always with the best outcomes.

So why are some districts more successful than others? Are the challenges the same from one district to the other? Is there a uniform way to approach how to start, scale and sustain a tutoring program? According to our expert partners at Framework Consulting, there are solutions to basic “Grow-Your-Own” challenges that can be addressed to make starting a successful tutoring program a lot easier.

Challenge #1: Embracing & Implementing Instructional Methodology

Solution #1: Finding a High-Impact Tutor Management System (TMS)

The days of trial and error testing tutoring methodologies are long gone. Determining a methodology shouldn’t be a challenge – research-based, High Impact Tutoring (HIT), has presented the most evidence of academic impact and is backed by the National Student Support Accelerator at Stanford University. 

BUT, here’s the challenge…High Impact Tutoring means your program must meet specific data-driven criteria:

  • Utilizing tutors with strong instructional skills
  • Developing sound relationships with students
  • Employing certified teachers or individuals with subject matter expertise
  • Tutoring in small groups of 1-4 students 
  • Meeting schedules that allow time each week for quality interactions. 

Framework Managing Partner, David Taylor, is a big proponent of “doing as many things as possible ‘in-house’”, but warns that “creating a tutor management platform isn’t one of them”.  He encourages K-12 districts to be thoughtful in selecting the right Tutor Management System (TMS) to schedule sessions, while creating a space for tutor/learner engagement for both in-person and virtual sessions. Additionally, David emphasizes that, “an effective Tutor Platform, such as Pearl, must have strong and secure data collection capabilities to support communication between tutors and teachers, provide ongoing instructional improvement, and prove the long-term efficacy of the tutoring program”.

Challenge #2: Sourcing Teacher-Tutors

Solution #2: Establishing Your Own Pipeline of Talent

Many tutoring programs work with third party providers to source their talent. This leaves limited control of the instructors who are the face of your district/organization. 

David says that “establishing a pipeline of high-quality tutors from your community may take time but it’s worth it”. Here are his tips:

  • Start with certified teachers and subject matter experts. 
  • Use recruitment as an opportunity to engage the local community. 
  • Retired educators, local teacher groups, and community colleges are all sources of potential tutors. 
  • Other considerations: 
    • Hire a Workforce Solutions Provider (like Framework) that specializes in sourcing, vetting and qualifying K-12 Tutoring candidates
    • Create a Tutoring Operations Team to oversee budgeting staffing needs and scale positions as the program grows
    • Employ a Human Capital Management partner to execute background checks, onboarding, HR, payroll, and consultant care, amongst other needs.

Challenge #3: Maximizing Operational Capacity

Solution #3: Building for The Future at the Beginning

As high-impact tutoring programs start, the need to scale is often overlooked and long-term operational capacity is maxed-out sooner than expected. From the start, you should plan for:

  • Quality training for your tutors
  • Ongoing improvement and professional development
  • Policies and procedures that support the program and enforce conduct and standards
  • Curriculum design to support your tutors
  • A robust communications plan and a feedback loop that provides critical operational and student data for your district/organization

By considering the future at the beginning and building for future growth, rapid implementation of best practices and the ability to adapt to changes, your organization will be set up for success from the start.  

Next Steps

Building an internal, “Grow-Your-Own” tutoring program requires a deep investment of time and resources, but it can be done! Pearl and Framework are here to support your efforts as you explore options and implement solutions.   
  1. Start with the goal to create a High Impact Tutoring program, at scale.
  2. Find a trusted, proven, and secure TMS partner
  3. Build your own pipeline of talent to deliver the program.
  4. Always collect data, evaluate and adjust for the future as you build.
  5. Talk to an expert! 

Guest Contributor

Special thanks to David Taylor, Managing Partner of Framework Consulting, for his insights and expertise. Framework provides customized, effective K-12 EdTech workforce management and strategic solutions in response to challenges, change, and growth. 

ADA Compliance: Elevating Accessibility for All Users

ADA Compliance: Elevating Accessibility for All Users

At Pearl, inclusivity isn’t just a principle—it’s at the core of everything we do. We believe that everyone deserves equitable access to our platform, regardless of their abilities. In our continuous effort to serve every user with respect and consideration, we’re thrilled to announce a significant compliance milestone: Pearl has achieved an AA rating on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standard.

What is Web Content Accessibility?

The Pearl tutoring platform is designed to ensure all users, including those who rely on assistive technologies, can navigate, understand, and interact with Pearl effortlessly. Here’s how our commitment to ADA compliance makes a difference:

  • Screen Reader Friendly: Users who depend on screen readers can now navigate through Pearl easier than ever. Every button, link, and piece of content is made accessible, ensuring that the information on our platform is available to everyone.
  • Comprehensive ARIA Tag Coverage: We’ve implemented ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) tags throughout our platform. These tags provide essential information to assistive technologies, helping to guide users through our interface smoothly.
  • Keyboard Navigation: For those who use a keyboard to navigate the web, our platform is fully accessible via keyboard controls. Users can employ arrow keys, tab, and enter to explore every feature Pearl offers without a hitch.
  • Enhanced Contrast for Greater Readability: We’ve improved the contrast on our platform to ensure all text is easily readable. This enhancement is particularly beneficial for users with visual impairments, enabling them to engage with our content more comfortably.
  • Assistive Tools for Notifications and Messaging: Our commitment extends to making notifications and the messaging experience as accessible as possible. With tailored assistive tools, we aim to provide a seamless communication experience for every user.

Committed to Accessibility. Always Striving for More.

As lifelong learners at Pearl, we’re celebrating this milestone of achieving an AA rating for accessibility. We also recognize it’s a continuous journey and remain committed to improving the platform’s accessibility for everyone, including:

  • Acknowledging areas for growth: New features and changes may introduce accessibility challenges, seen as opportunities for improvement.
  • Valuing user feedback: Feedback is crucial for identifying and addressing accessibility issues.
  • Ongoing commitment: Pearl promises to make accessibility a constant priority, aiming for an inclusive platform for all.

To all of Pearl’s partners, thank you for coming on this journey with us and helping achieve our mission to create equitable access to relationship-based education for all.

2024 Tutoring Trends: Funding & Budgeting

2024 Tutoring Trends: Funding & Budgeting

Shaped by emerging trends and innovative approaches, the tutoring landscape in education is poised for significant transformations, Currently, Pearl is looking at trends in funding and budgeting allocations. Read on to learn our top 5 research-backed predictions for 2024.  

ARP ESSER Funding Cliff

The looming September 2024 ARP ESSER funding cliff will continue to generate a wave of concern, but amidst this, high-impact tutoring stands out as a beacon of hope. This evidence-based approach is key in addressing student learning loss. As the deadline nears, here are some funding trends in high-impact tutoring to watch.
Evidence-Based High-Impact Tutoring

School districts are increasingly adopting high-impact tutoring as an evidence-based, cost-effective strategy to support student learning post-federal funding (REL West, 2021).  As an example Accelerate.us has supported organizations that collectively serve more than 178,000 students and work with more than 30,000 tutors. At Pearl, our partners have successfully completed over 288,900 high-impact tutoring sessions in 2023, demonstrating a 212% increase from 2022.

Focus on High-Poverty Schools

High-impact tutoring is being prioritized in high-poverty schools to mitigate the impact of the ESSER fiscal cliff.  This is a critical focus as “…in high-poverty districts (over 75% poverty) the end of ESSER has a six percent impact on budgets, compared to two percent for districts serving more affluent students (under 25% poverty)” (Brookings, 2023.).

Budget Cuts

Without additional state investments, district budgets might face an average cut of $1,200 per student in the 2024-25 school year. This is due to a combination of declining enrollment and ESSER Funds. For an average high school with 850 students, this could amount to a loss of over $1 million. (The Education Trust, 2023)

Budget Realignment

Schools are increasingly adopting high-impact tutoring as a cost-effective strategy to preserve educational standards during times of financial pressure (Accelerate, 2023). Preliminary discovery into integrating high-impact tutoring within Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) shows potential benefits, including the early identification of learning gaps. This approach could reduce the need for more expensive interventions in subsequent grades, thereby curbing overall costs. With 900+ schools already using Pearl across all 50 states, the adoption of high-impact tutoring is clear. 

Equitable and Effective Planning

Integrating high-impact tutoring into strategic planning equitably and effectively is key for schools to address individual student needs during financial transitions (National Student Support Accelerator, 2021).  As an example Illinois has created pathways for districts to provide high-impact tutoring, funded by COVID-19 relief funds, and coordinated with higher education institutions to focus on K-8 math and literacy and high school math.  Also, Georgia invested $6 million in partnership with AmeriCorps to provide tutoring for up to 5,000 students, showing a commitment to integrating tutoring at a systemic level​. (National Student Support Accelerator, 2023)

References:

Accelerate. (2023, August). Beyond Recovery: Funding High-Impact Tutoring for the Long-Term. Retrieved from https://accelerate.us/beyond-recovery/

Brookings. (2023, September). The ESSER fiscal cliff will have serious implications for student equity. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/articles/the-esser-fiscal-cliff-will-have-serious-implications-for-student-equity/

Council of Chief State School Officers. (n.d.). Road to Recovery: How States are Using Federal Relief Funding to Scale High-Impact Tutoring. https://learning.ccsso.org/road-to-recovery-how-states-are-using-federal-relief-funding-to-scale-high-impact-tutoring

The Education Trust. (2023, August 22). Running out of time: ESSER spending deadline looms and fiscal cliffs approach. The Education Trust. https://edtrust.org/press-release/running-out-of-time-esser-spending-deadline-looms-and-fiscal-cliffs-approach/

National Student Support Accelerator. (2021, May.). Equitable and Effective Planning for High-Impact Tutoring. Retrieved from https://studentsupportaccelerator.org/briefs/equitable-and-effective

National Student Support Accelerator. (2023, November). A snapshot of state tutoring policies. https://studentsupportaccelerator.org/briefs/snapshot-state-tutoring-policies

REL West. (2021, September). High-Quality Tutoring: An Evidence-Based Strategy to Tackle Learning Loss. Institute of Education Sciences. https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs/regions/west/blog/tutoring-learning-loss.asp

Watershed Advisors. (2023, July.). Solutions that scale: How Watershed is supporting leaders to address America’s biggest education challenges. [PDF document]. Retrieved from https://watershed-advisors.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/TutoringCaseStudyv8.pdf

2023 Pearl Year-In-Review

2023 Pearl Year-In-Review

As we close out another year, we can say with 100% confidence that 2023 has been a wild ride!

At Pearl, we are grateful to all our Tutoring Partners, Ecosystem Partners, Pearl Team Members, and Instructors that have invested their time, energy, and commitment into fostering student success through both in-person and virtual high-impact tutoring.

5 Reasons to Start a Home-Grown Tutoring Program

5 Reasons to Start a Home-Grown Tutoring Program

A Home-Grown Tutoring Partnership represents a collaborative effort, typically spearheaded by state DOEs, districts (LEAs), or non-profit organizations, to harness the power of local tutoring resources for the benefit of schools in their vicinity. The cornerstone of these initiatives is the emphasis on evidence-based practices, such as in-person high-impact tutoring, ensuring not only immediate academic support but also long-term sustainability of the programs.

This type of program has the potential to be a community treasure, transforming local experts like retired teachers, inspired professionals, and local college students into educational lifelines. These initiatives go beyond standard tutoring, offering customized, locally relevant learning while simultaneously boosting the community’s economy through internal investment.

Why Develop a Home-Grown Model

1. Strengthening Community Bonds

Home-grown tutoring programs bring education back to the local level, fostering a sense of community involvement and ownership that is irreplaceable. When local residents — be they in-house teachers and support staff, local university students, retired teachers, high-achieving high school students, or passionate volunteers — become tutors, it strengthens community bonds. This engagement isn’t just heartwarming; it’s also effective. Tutors with a profound understanding of local dynamics are uniquely positioned to connect with and inspire their students.

2. Economic Reinvestment in the Community

By employing residents as tutors, districts keep State funding within the community, contributing to local economic sustainability. Instead of allocating resources to entities outside the community, the money flows back into the local economy, enhancing the district’s financial health and fostering a sense of communal pride and investment in the success of its students.

3. Tailored Learning Experiences

The home-grown approach to tutoring takes personalized learning a step further, capitalizing on the intrinsic understanding local tutors have of the unique cultural, economic, and social dynamics that influence their students. This deep comprehension stems from shared experiences and histories, an asset that cannot be imported. Moreover, this approach fosters enhanced communication and stronger relationships between tutors and regular school teachers. 

Being part of the same community, they can collaborate more effectively (often in-person), aligning their strategies and goals. This synergy ensures a cohesive learning journey for students, where tutoring complements mainstream education. The tutors’ nuanced understanding of local dynamics, combined with consistent dialogue with school teachers, creates a more holistic, supportive, and effective educational ecosystem.

4. Empowered Professional Development

Home-grown tutoring initiatives create professional development opportunities within the community. Educators can collaborate with local tutors, sharing insights, strategies, and feedback that drive improvement. This continual learning environment not only enhances the quality of education but also increases job satisfaction and retention among teachers.

Home-grown tutoring partnerships are more than educational aids; they’re career springboards for tutors themselves. By fostering skills like leadership and communication, these local initiatives help tutors navigate diverse career or higher-ed paths. The hands-on experience enhances job applications and academic pursuits alike, making these programs a win-win: enriching student learning while advancing tutors’ professional journeys.

5. Enhanced School-Community Relationships

When schools initiate or expand home-grown tutoring programs, it signals to the community that the district values local talent and collaboration. This approach strengthens the relationship between schools and the communities they serve, establishing a foundation of mutual trust and respect that benefits all educational initiatives.

Summary

By focusing on local talent, tailored learning, economic reinvestment, and professional development, districts can cultivate a more engaged, effective, and sustainable educational environment. The challenges faced by rural areas have given rise to a model of education that’s not just a necessity for them but a beacon of inspiration for all. It’s time for educational districts everywhere to recognize the universal potential of this approach and embrace the home-grown advantage.

To Learn more about how Pearl supports Home-Grown Community Tutoring Programs – read the spotlight on Guilford Public Schools in North Carolina (and their amazing success).

How Guilford County, NC Succeeded in Home-Grown Tutoring

How Guilford County, NC Succeeded in Home-Grown Tutoring

In response to the pervasive learning gaps caused by the COVID pandemic, Guilford County Public Schools initiated a proactive strategy in September 2020, enlisting their inaugural group of tutors from neighboring colleges and universities to develop a home-grown tutoring program. By November, these tutors were actively bridging the educational divide. The recruitment strategy was precise, targeting both graduate and undergraduate students majoring in engineering, math, and education, with a significant emphasis on tapping into the rich resources of two strong local Universities, University of North Carolina Greensboro, and North Carolina A&T (an HBCU).

By the Numbers

The 2022-2023 academic year witnessed a revolutionary transformation within Guilford’s educational landscape, a metamorphosis driven by staggering numbers that underscored the success of its home-grown tutoring initiative.

Attendees were a wonderful blend of K-12 Education professionals ranging from classroom educators, researchers, policy experts, to EdTech innovators. As panel discussions unfolded and workshops began, everyone contributed their unique knowledge and valuable experiences, making this a truly inspirational event.

Fact and Figures
  • 305,000 high-impact tutoring sessions conducted, highlighting the strength of the program’s infrastructure in enhancing personalized academic support.
  • 500+ community tutors mobilized from within the community to boost K-12 education, increasing civic participation, and providing practical experience for university students.
  • 11,000+ students positively impacted through customized, individual, and small group tutoring sessions.
Correlated Conclusions
  • Improved academic performance, self-confidence, and educational equity among students.
  • Powerful synergy between educational advancement and community engagement, establishing a national model.
  • Sparked a surge in student confidence, reignited enthusiasm for learning, and notably decreased educational gaps across diverse student groups as the pandemic resurfaced.

 

Scaling Home-Grown Tutoring

When scaling a home-grown tutoring program, it’s important to select a technology partner that not only helps facilitate online and in-person tutoring but also prioritizes comprehensive data collection—including attendance, dosage, and SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) metrics. 

This focus on data integrity is crucial for Guilford County Public Schools, ensuring that every stakeholder can monitor and understand the program’s impact. Because Pearl has rostered every student in the district, data professionals at the district can merge tutor assessment data with tutor data for a full (and dynamic) picture of program health. The ability for the Pearl tutor management platform – and ultimately Guilford County – to track specific aspects of student engagement and progress allows for a nuanced view of the program’s effectiveness and areas for improvement.

Key Takeaways

  • Require detailed tracking of attendance, engagement, and SEL metrics through a tutor management platform provider, like Pearl.
  • Prioritize data integrity for transparent, stakeholder-friendly program assessments.
  • Integrate district-wide student data for a holistic view of program effectiveness.
  • Utilize specific engagement metrics for insights into successes and areas needing improvement.
  • Capitalize on large-scale programs to support extensive tutoring goals, like the Pearl partnerships with Stanford’s National Student Support Accelerator to underscore a commitment to top-tier data standards and security.

Summary

Now halfway through the first semester of the 2023-2024 school year, Guilford Public Schools’ tutoring program reflects more than an academic lifeline; it’s the heartbeat of a community united in its commitment to educational excellence. This unity is evident not only in the surging academic progress of students but also in the deepening roots of community involvement and support. With proven results and a forward-thinking approach in their home-grown tutoring program, the initiative continues to garner diverse financial backing, ranging from local coffers to significant grants and philanthropic gestures, each contributor drawn to the tangible successes and sustainable promise of the program.

Moreover, this initiative is a catalyst for cultivating the next wave of educators. By involving community members in hands-on tutoring roles, the district is not just filling positions but inspiring a passion for teaching among those who share a personal stake in their community’s future. This strategy has established a robust, self-sustaining educational ecosystem that’s as focused on tomorrow’s teachers as it is on today’s students.

Praise for Guilford Leadership

The ongoing journey of educational recovery and growth in Guilford County Public Schools is significantly marked by the visionary leadership of Dr. Faith Freeman, now Co-Director of the Institute for Partnerships in Education at UNCG, and Guilford’s Superintendent Dr. Whitney Oakley. Their leadership is not just about administrative prowess or educational oversight; it reflects a profound understanding that education extends beyond classroom walls.

The amazing tutoring department at Guilford (now run by Kara Hamliton) holds a shared belief that nurturing the next generation of thinkers, leaders, and innovators is a collective responsibility, one that they have embraced with profound dedication. As Guilford County Public Schools celebrates its milestones and carves out future goals, the community stands testament to the indelible impact of leaders who not only envision a brighter future but also work tirelessly to turn it into a reality.

Pro-Tips: Community-Based Tutoring

  • Embrace Community as Core Strength: Recognize your tutoring program not just as an academic support system, but as a vital community asset. The program’s success should reflect and amplify the community’s commitment to educational excellence.
  • Implement Rigorous Data Tracking: Establish a systematic approach to collecting critical tutor data — including metrics like attendance, dosage, SEL, and assessments. This robust data collection is essential for accurately measuring program success, providing transparent proof of effectiveness, and ensuring continued trust and investment from funders. By demonstrating positive outcomes through solid data, you reinforce the program’s credibility and secure ongoing support.
  • Measure Success Beyond Academics: Gauge the program’s impact not only through academic improvement but also via the depth of community engagement and support. Celebrate and leverage these aspects as integral components of the program’s success.
  • Diversify Funding Sources: Seek varied financial contributions, from local funds to substantial grants and donations. Showcase tangible successes and the program’s sustainable promise to attract and secure diverse backing.
  • Cultivate Future Educators: Use the program as a platform to inspire a new generation of educators. Engage community members as tutors to ignite a passion for teaching and a personal investment in the community’s educational future.
  • Build a Self-Sustaining Educational Ecosystem: Aim to create an educational environment that nurtures both current students and future educators, ensuring the program’s longevity and community relevance.
  • Lead with Vision and Understanding: Encourage leadership that understands education as a holistic experience extending beyond academics. Leaders should embody and act upon the belief that shaping future thinkers, leaders, and innovators is a communal duty.
  • Champion Collective Responsibility: Promote a shared belief across all stakeholders, including the tutoring department, that educating the next generation is a joint responsibility requiring dedicated commitment.
  • Celebrate and Strategize: Take time to acknowledge milestones while also diligently planning for the future. Recognize the enduring impact of visionary leaders and a community united in turning educational aspirations into tangible realities.

Guilford County Public Schools high-impact tutoring program, enhanced through collaborations with local institutions like NCAT and UNCG, extends robust tutoring resources to students. Emphasis on systematic training and superior instructional materials ensures the tutoring surpasses the effectiveness of many other academic interventions.

The strategy focuses on frequent, high-dosage tutoring, allocating 2-6 hours per week, which is pivotal for improving student outcomes. This approach not only bolsters academic performance but also strengthens social and emotional foundations through valuable mentorships, helping students realign with their educational pathways.

VIRTUAL SUMMIT: "The Future of High-Impact Tutoring with AI" | June 5 from 12-3 pm ET
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