Small Group Tutoring: What Size Is Best?

Small Group Tutoring: What Size Is Best?

When we hear the word “tutoring,” many of us think about 1:1 lessons between a tutor and student. But many tutoring sessions involve small groups, which can be just as effective, if not more so. When is small group tutoring better? Naturally, it all depends on the situation — particularly the needs of the students involved and the subject matter being taught. 

But apart from determining when a group lesson is the most viable, another crucial question we should ask is “what size should a group lesson be?” At what point does a small tutoring group become a small classroom, which defeats the purpose of the personalized tutoring concept? Let’s dig in and find out!

In general, small group tutoring sessions can stimulate engagement, with students feeling empowered and motivated by one another. It’s a totally different dynamic than a single student-to-tutor environment. But there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, and student needs must be taken into consideration before making any decisions. 

In the briefing “A Principal’s Guide to Intensive Reading Interventions for Struggling Readers in Reading First Schools,” the author cites small groups as “the most efficient way to increase the intensity of instruction for struggling readers.” The benefits pointed out include targeted attention to student needs plus more opportunities for students to “respond and receive feedback.” The paper concludes that 3 to 5 students are ideal for that given situation. 

But there are other circumstances and considerations to keep in mind. Below, we’ve outlined some of the more essential things to consider before putting together a small group tutoring practice. 

Keeping classes “fun-sized”

1:1 tutoring lessons can be fun, but throwing a handful of peers in the mix alters the landscape, usually for the better. Having “fun” in a tutoring class might sound like a luxury to some, but savvy tutors know that fun activities are part of an active learning strategy. As noted in a Harvard study, active learning gets students more involved, enhancing their understanding and retention of material. The nontraditional approaches of active learning can definitely be more fun than listening to a lecture. But what’s the best size for a small group tutoring session? 

Brainspring reports studies that suggest small groups retain the essential elements of 1:1 lessons when limited to between 3 and 6 students. In comparison, EdResearch for Recovery identifies 3 to 4 students as the preferred target, arguing that “moving beyond this number can quickly become small group instruction, which is less personalized and requires a higher degree of skill to do well.”

Teaching students with disabilities

The maximum number of recommended small group students drops to between 2 and 4 for students coping with learning disabilities. Such special education sessions may require additional planning, enhanced instructional support, and perhaps different materials that take extra time to use. 

For teaching students with disabilities, Reading Rockets offers tips based on research from the Office of Special Education Programs. The suggested alternatives include peer tutoring, cross-age tutoring, small learning groups, and combined formats. 

“Smaller groups appear to be better,” Reading Rockets observes. “Groups of 3 to 4 students are usually more efficient than larger groups of 5 to 7 students in terms of teacher and student time, lower cost, increased instructional time, increased peer interaction, and improved generalization of skills.”

Staying cognizant of learning styles

Educators at all levels should take into consideration the diverse learning styles of each student. Tutors may not always have the time or resources to deep dive into their pupils’ inherently preferred styles, but should nonetheless be aware of how such differences impact learning. 

For instance, the VARK model considers four distinct learning styles — Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing, and Kinesthetic. It may be hard to identify in advance of class scheduling which students are more prone to which styles, then find compatible students to add to the group. When in doubt, smaller is better. 

Age and maturity levels 

Another variable that impacts teaching efficacy is the age and maturity levels of the students in attendance. Younger students may be more apt to distract each other, but then again, teenagers often do so even more! 

The ability to focus (or lack thereof), however, is only one of the many factors at play when it comes to age and maturity. As educator Lisette Partelow wrote for U.S.News, “Teaching young students also requires some pretty good detective skills, as students don’t necessarily have the language or awareness to explain their misunderstandings, feelings or behavior.” 

In other words, it may be tough to tell when younger students are struggling if they cannot explain what’s going on inside. Tutors need to work with groups that are small enough to allow time for monitoring and gauging how well lessons are sinking in. 

Ability to track student progress

Tied to the above is the ability of tutors to actively track student progress over time. Some tutoring sessions are aimed at helping students who’ve fallen behind to catch up. Others are more focused on building advanced competencies to prepare for upcoming challenges. Either way, the tutor’s job involves establishing markers and measuring demonstrable success. 

When one student in the group begins to lag, a course adjustment may be required. Tutors can’t merely teach at the pace of their most high-needs students, but they also can’t let a single student falter. 

It’s imperative to closely track how each student is doing, and then intervene with 1:1 instruction or extra practice work as needed. By the same token, students who are ahead of the curve shouldn’t feel like they’re being held back. When the disparity between learners is too great, the group as a whole suffers. 

Experience of the tutor

EdResearch for Recovery made another excellent point by bringing up the qualifications of the tutors themselves, declaring that “teachers might be better able to tutor up to four students whereas paraprofessionals and volunteers may do better with one or two students at a time.” Seasoned tutors will be more adept at juggling higher numbers, whereas those without experience or training should focus on 1:1 sessions. 

Considering affordability factors

Small group tutoring is generally more affordable for the students (or their parents). This is a vital factor, as students around the country continue to struggle in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic’s darkest days. 1:1 tutoring sessions are out of many family’s budgets, so group lessons come to the rescue by enabling tutors to lower prices, helping remove that barrier to access. 

Simultaneously, tutors can potentially generate significant additional income for their tutoring business by attracting students who otherwise couldn’t come. However, the key is to ensure groups are small enough to be effective for tutoring, and that they don’t turn into micro classes

Choosing suitable subject matter

Some academic subject matters are better suited to small group learning than other subjects. However, even subjects like reading, which may seem to require a more 1:1 approach, can be effectively taught in groups. 

Teacher Magazine reported that Abracadabra, a small group reading program centered on “key skills of comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, phonemic awareness and phonics” incorporates individual and paired practice work as part of the group approach. The article goes on to note that sessions with 1 to 5 students allow for “more time to practice” while tutors “provide more individualized attention to help students overcome difficult problems.” 

While there is no consensus about which subjects are more suitable for small group tutoring, students and parents can find small group lessons for virtually any topic. From core subjects like math, science, grammar, and writing to enrichment courses such as music, foreign languages, or public speaking, there are endless flexible options available. 

Selecting the best tutoring platform or software

When deciding how large or small a group lesson should be, a final consideration is the software or online platform being used (if any). Basic teleconferencing software can suffice in a pinch, but to truly unleash the power of remote learning, educators and schools receiving government funding for tutoring are wise to invest in a professional tutoring platform like Pearl.

The ability to scale up is a vital consideration, but so is offering breakout sessions. Breakouts are invaluable, especially when a small group needs to temporarily be made even smaller. Tutoring software Pearl comes with several handy, built-in features while also offering custom design opportunities for institutions that have specific requirements not currently available. 

If you’d like a demo of tutoring platform Pearl, get in touch with us here.

What Is Hybrid Learning? Everything You Need to Know

What Is Hybrid Learning? Everything You Need to Know

From colleges and K-12 school districts to home-based tutoring businesses, educators around the country have jumped at the chance to offer hybrid learning options for students. But what exactly is hybrid learning? In this article, we’ll explore what hybrid learning means, how it differs from blended learning, and how you can make hybrid learning work for your students. 

What is hybrid learning?

Hybrid learning is simply an educational model that combines live, in-person classes with online, remote learning methods. The online portion may involve students attending class via teleconferencing software or engaging with multimedia-enriched content or computer applications. 

Often, we hear the term hybrid learning used synonymously with blending learning. However, there is a difference! The blending learning model relies more on in-person lessons supplemented by online work. In contrast, the hybrid learning model focuses more or less equally on in-person and remote studies. 

To maximize effectiveness, distance learning experiences should be engaging and integrated with face-to-face instruction. They should complement each other as much as possible.  

One variation of hybrid learning is to have half a class attend physically while the rest attend virtually. This is helpful to allow for better social distancing during the pandemic, reducing the risk of exposure. 

Another way to effectively use hybrid learning is to have students attend a certain number of hours in person and then complete the lessons at home. This is useful when students need to work on assignments that don’t require them to be physically present in class. 

Hybrid learning may feature synchronous attendance as well as incorporating asynchronous studies and discussions. Some educators use hybrid learning for short-term solutions when students can’t come to class, others view it as the perfect long-term learning experience that provides students with the best of both worlds. 

Clearly, hybrid learning is a very flexible model for an array of situations, which is why it is being adopted by everyone from tutors to K-12 school districts, all the way up to Ivy League universities. Indeed, in June 2021, Harvard reported that “over the last 15 months, more than 5,000 faculty members across Harvard have taught online and hybrid classes.”  

How to make hybrid learning work for your class

As with in-person classrooms, teachers must establish clear rules for online students to follow. As suggested by Edutopia, it’s wise to set the stage in advance each day, by posting a “daily agenda before class” that includes built-in time for breaks and class transitions. Make sure students (and parents, as applicable) know how to easily find this online and/or in the physical classroom.  

Teachers and tutors must continuously look for ways to keep their hybrid classes interesting, inclusive, relevant, and accessible to everyone. Hybrid learning models should intertwine in-person and online activities as much as possible, utilizing live media and soliciting student engagement in chat. 

Breakout sessions and games are fun ways to bust up the monotony after a lecture or video presentation. The International Literacy Association points out several more tips, noting the importance of teaching real-world applicability. “If students can experience how the skills they learn online can apply outside of the classroom,” the site writes, “they’re not only more engaged but also more prepped for the real world.”

Schools and tutoring businesses interested in hybrid learning should take inventory of their needs before shopping around for a suitable online platform. While there are a few options out there, we at Pearl have built an “all-in-one tool” made specifically for educators — like us! — who need a comprehensive, flexible, user-friendly platform that makes remote teaching and learning easier than ever. 

How Tutoring Companies Can Benefit from ARP ESSER Funds

How Tutoring Companies Can Benefit from ARP ESSER Funds

Large federal government-funded programs can be confusing and daunting; the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, also known as ARP ESSER, is no exception.  The ESSER was created as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March 2020.  The CARES act addresses multiple macro issues. Providing ongoing support to elementary and secondary schools across the nation is placed alongside healthcare as an initiative of paramount importance.  While there seems to be many resources available on this funding, most of those resources focus primarily on people navigating within state-based departments of education and local education agencies.  

At Pearl, we regularly get asked questions by private companies about how they can participate in their state’s ARP ESSER-funded tutoring initiatives. Several of our clients are private companies stepping up to help mitigate COVID-19 related learning loss. If your tutoring company is prepared to scale quickly and you have a host of great instructors, you may qualify  to be a sub-recipient of this funding.

How does the ARP ESSER fund work?

The most recent update to the ARP ESSER makes available $130 billion for K-12 schools. The funds are granted to the individual states for distribution to districts. The districts are given quite a bit of flexibility as needs in K-12 education vary widely: from foundational issues (like the need for more teachers) to specific COVID-elated concerns like significant learning loss. Even though districts generally have flexibility around how funds are applied, in some cases the ARP ESSER funding can dictate specific requirements. For example, districts must meet a benchmark of using at least 20% of their ARP ESSER funding towards mitigating COVID-related learning loss.

How can tutoring companies benefit from ARP ESSER funds? 

This significant earmark for learning loss is allocated for evidence-based programs, especially 1-on-1 or small group tutoring initiatives. This is where private tutoring companies or organizations can come in and shine. Tutoring companies are eligible as a “subrecipient” because they can help support or supplement staffing tutor positions with qualified instructors.  

The ARP ESSER allows for a wide range of entities to be included as potential subrecipients, including the actual Local Education Agencies, tutoring companies, academic support organizations, and any entity that meets the standards set forth to receive a subgrant per the federal government and individual state’s subgrant and procurement standards. In most cases, inquiries to participate as a subrecipient can be made directly to the State Education Agency (i.e the Department of Education).

To learn more about how to benefit from ARP ESSER funds as a tutoring company, register here for our upcoming webinar on Demystifying ARP ESSER Funding for Tutoring Companies at noon EST on Nov 5, 2021. 

How Pearl can help educational institutions and tutoring companies take advantage of ARP ESSER funds

At Pearl, we focus on being the technical partner for ARP ESSER fund  recipients implementing tutoring programs at scale. Our mission is to provide technical infrastructure and services for these programs via our tutoring management software which includes capabilities like: scheduling sessions, administrative tools, a virtual classroom experience optimized for tutoring, data collection, and robust reporting to track program effectiveness and overall impact.  

Pearl will evolve quickly over the next couple of months. Between Q42021 and Q12022, we will be announcing partnerships with a state initiative and several prestigious universities to innovate: 

  1. A new 1-to-small group online classroom
  2. Much more robust data reporting
  3. Enhanced post-session reports
  4. CRM (HR) capabilities to manage large cohorts of tutors more efficiently

If you are interested to learn more about these exciting projects, reach out to Pearl’s CRO Nate Casey at

The Importance of Choosing the Right Tutoring Software

The Importance of Choosing the Right Tutoring Software

Tutoring has never been more important for students or as popular for entrepreneurs looking to start up their own businesses! But it takes plenty of planning to launch a successful tutoring business, and one of the most vital yet overlooked components is tutoring software. Whether your tutoring model is online, in-person, or blended, you’ll want to select software packed with the right tools aimed at improving your tutoring workflow and student outcomes. 

Ideally, look for tutoring software with a built-in virtual classroom that enables you to teach effectively. The program should also help streamline your day-to-day operations, such as adding new students (or parents, or admins), scheduling tutoring sessions, sharing communications, collecting payments, and generating reports. 

Every tutor or tutoring company may have their own slightly different business models and budgets to take into consideration when selecting the best tutoring software for their needs, but read on below for a summary of some of the “must-have” features of good tutoring software.

The Best Tutoring Software Features to Look Out For

Built-In Virtual Classroom

The best tutoring software should include high-resolution video and crystal clear audio, but a virtual classroom needs more than standard teleconference capabilities. You’ll want a purpose-built online classroom with a virtual whiteboard that includes easy-to-use drawing functions. Depending on the subjects you teach, you may need advanced features that allow for math functions, too. 

The virtual classroom feature should allow for user-friendly multimedia tests or quizzes. Presentation capabilities are also handy and should be simple enough for your age group of students. A screen recording function is another great bonus feature that allows you or students to capture sessions for later playback or review. 

Brand Customization 

Some software for tutors offer limited customization options for tutors and tutoring agencies to add their own logos, change color schemes, or adjust certain visual aspects. While this is definitely a “nice to have” professional branding feature, it’s not necessarily a “must-have” for solo tutors.  

As an alternative, tutors may want to add a few discreet branding touches in their visible screen space, such as a banner behind them or a coffee mug with your logo or business name. 

Secure, Transparent Messaging 

You’ll want the tutoring platform you use to incorporate a live chat option so your students can send messages in real-time during sessions. It’s also efficient to have in-app messaging capabilities that extend beyond the session, so users don’t have to rely on email or phone texts. Tutors often send out instructions, updates, or links to reading material or videos, so having the ability to do this in-app is much simpler and more organized than traditional email. 

You may also want the messaging to be transparent so that parents of younger children can view the correspondence between tutor and student. And you’ll also want to look out for tutoring software that features strong security to protect everyone’s data and privacy from outside cyber threats.  

Integrated and Robust Data System

Tutor management software solutions are not all built equally. It’s best to have one that can be fully integrated into your computer system, so no data slips through the cracks. It also needs a robust data system that can allow you to keep track of individual student progress and other analytics, and reconcile tutoring sessions as needed for students, families, or third-party program use. 

It’s important to be able to view and report student performance and outcomes. This helps tutors make adjustments and address learning obstacles as needed, thus keeping students on track to achieve their goals. Progress tracking also offers visible proof of your tutoring efficacy, which can be shown to pupils and parents as a means to encourage them to continue with lessons. 

In other words, a strong data system can capture Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that allow your tutoring business to measure value and demonstrate effectiveness to students (or parents). 

Easy Scheduling 

Tutors, students, and parents all need the ability to book sessions in-app. This saves valuable time and keeps everything organized. It’s so much simpler than scheduling over email and phone calls, and experience shows that businesses earn more when they can reduce hassle for customers and thereby enhance loyalty. 

It’s also efficient to have automated appointment reminders and the ability to invite students to their tutoring sessions. These extra little features go a long way in ensuring maximum attendance, especially in today’s hectic world. 

File Sharing

All users must be able to readily upload, download, share, and save files and other content through the tutoring platform. From lesson plans to homework or reports, these files might sometimes be large or may contain personal information. File sharing should be painless but it’s vital that all information is protected with a program that has strong security and enough recordkeeping and storage capability. 

Tutoring Business Management Tools

Remember, as a tutoring entrepreneur, you’re running a business and must treat it as such. That’s why robust business management tools are critical, no matter what subject you’re teaching or how you’re teaching it. 

Indeed, whether you’re a one-person shop with a lot of students or running a large team of tutors hosting multiple sessions, you’ll want a program packed with flexible business management tools. If your tutoring company is sizable enough, you may also need admins to manage operations using these built-in tools. 

A critical business feature is user management and role-based portal access, which allows permissions to be set for the “roles” of instructors, students, parents, and admins if needed. In other words, each user can be assigned a role that determines what areas and functions of the platform they can access, read, or alter when they are logged in. This is the same principle used when creating standard network accounts at any organization. 

Payment collection is, of course, another significant consideration. You want a program that makes it easy and safe to collect payments from your customers using credit cards or, if desired, PayPal or other popular methods. At Pearl, we put a handy payment option right in the Storefront feature, allowing your customers to purchase sessions with the click of a button. 


As with any business expenditure, before purchasing professional tutoring software, do your homework to ensure you’re getting a return on your investment. That said, keep growth in mind if you plan to scale your business to add more instructors and students. 

It’s better to invest in tutoring software with enough flexibility and options than to waste time learning how to use software your company is only going to outgrow in a few months. Meanwhile, larger tutoring businesses might want to look into acquiring an enterprise license to potentially save money and keep things simple.  

International Availability 

One of the amazing things about online tutoring in 2021 is that participants can be scattered all over the globe. However, not all tutoring programs are available for use in every country. Be sure to double-check if there are any country restrictions if you or your expected students are attending from outside the U.S. 

Customization for Institutions

The COVID-19 pandemic had deep impacts on schools and students around the world. To help address the knowledge gap that ensued from these disruptions, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 offers stimulus funding to certain institutions that might be able to use them for tutoring purposes. Experienced tutoring software companies like Pearl offer partnerships that include design, training, and support for such government-funded programs.

In summary, there are many options available for online tutoring software, but it requires careful thought and planning to choose the most suitable one for your needs. Take enough time to shop around and compare, then pick the best one for you and your students.

If you’re interested in learning more about the best-in-class tutoring software we’ve built at Pearl, get in touch with us to schedule a demo or start your free trial today.

7 Reasons Why You Need Tutoring Software

7 Reasons Why You Need Tutoring Software

Whether you’re completely new to online tutoring or you’ve been doing it for years, it’s essential to invest in purpose-built tutoring software if you’re going to get the best results for your students.

While you may have managed “just fine” without it, tutoring software for professional tutors – like Pearl – can be extremely beneficial to use because not only will it make your life as a tutor easier, it will also help improve your student outcomes and make it easy for parents to play a part in their children’s academic journey.  

Here are 7 key reasons why professional tutors and tutoring agencies need purpose-built tutoring software to take their business to the next level:

1. It Improves Student Engagement 

Thankfully the days of sitting in a classroom writing lines out of a book are long gone, and that’s a big positive for both tutors and students.

Tutoring software makes it easy for the student to engage in their studies, and allows for you to be more accessible via a virtual classroom. Virtual classroom features like screen sharing and interactive whiteboards allow students to actively participate in lessons, rather than feel like they’re just being spoken at.

Another key feature of tutoring software that can engage students is the ability to send messages and reminders within the platform. The messages allow for frictionless communication between tutors, parents, students, and admins, while the reminders help drive attendance for the sessions. 

2. It’s More Effective for Students, Which Leads to Better Results

Having students who are more engaged with their learning will lead to better outcomes, and using tutoring software can be a far more effective way of teaching them, which again leads to them achieving better results.

While face-to-face learning is still a very useful method of educating students, there are some downsides compared with online tutoring. For example, it can be more difficult to keep track of a student’s progress when all of their work is written by hand, and there are also likely to be more distractions for them when they’re learning in person.

Perhaps the biggest reason why tutoring software is often more effective for students is the fact that lessons can be recorded. Traditionally, a student would sit in a classroom being taught something once, only to then finish the lesson perhaps not having fully understood it, or wishing there were materials they could recap but can’t.

However, by recording a lesson, your students will be able to go back and re-listen if there’s any points they missed or didn’t understand during the live lesson. 

3. It Helps With Effective Time Management

Rather than having to manually flick through your diary to see when you’re free, or booking an appointment with a student and forgetting to write it down, you can have your entire tutoring schedule in one place with the right tutoring software.

This is a particularly useful feature if you’re not a naturally organized person, or if you have to manage large groups of instructors that have different schedules. 

It’s beneficial for students too, as it will allow them to see the times when you’re available if they need to schedule a 1-1 call or some extra tutoring, and it will allow you to block time out in your calendar to show that you’re busy or taking a vacation. Your tutoring software may also have a calendar that allows for students to add in their day-to-day events like a soccer game or math test. 

And, with tutoring software like Pearl, there’s the added benefit of being able to send reminders to students, parents and instructors at the click of a button. This helps drive a consistent attendance, which leads to a stronger relationship between the tutor and student.

4. It Helps You Scale Your Tutoring Business Faster and More Easily

As your tutoring business grows and you start accepting more students and bigger groups, it can be difficult to keep on top of everything from a business standpoint, especially if you’re an educator first, and an entrepreneur second.

However, with tutoring software, it doesn’t matter if you have one student, or 100. You’ll be able to track their progress, manage payments, reconcile tutoring packages and manage your schedule effectively while your business scales up.

The biggest benefit of good tutoring software is that you’ll free up more time to do what you’re good at – teaching. Instead of having endless mountains of paperwork to file away, and manual records to keep updated, you’ll be able to keep on top of your business far more easily, which means less admin and more teaching.

5. All the Tools You Need Are in One Place

While this was touched on in the previous point from an organizational perspective, it also applies from an educational perspective too, which benefits both you and your students.

Instead of having multiple programs open – such as Zoom, PowerPoint, Google Drive, etc. – everything you need to teach effectively is contained within the tutoring platform so you’ll be more organized and better able to create an engaging tutoring lesson.

And, of course, there are the benefits previously mentioned too, such as the ability to manage your schedule and your student’s progress all in one place.

6. It’s Built by Educators Who Understand Your Needs as an Educator

The best tutoring software is designed by people with an in-depth understanding of tutoring, who have the experience of being an educator themselves.

Pearl is a great example of a tutoring software company that was built by tutors, for other tutors.

As educators, we know what works and what doesn’t, and we understand that building relationships between students and tutors is the most effective way of delivering the best student outcomes.

7. It Looks More Professional

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a worldwide shift in teaching methods, with thousands of tutors being forced to adapt to more online-based learning, and more people setting themselves up as online educators.

Therefore, to build and grow a successful tutoring business it’s important that you stand out from your competitors, and an all-in-one, purpose-built tutoring platform is a great place to start.

While many of your competitors may try to do things on the cheap and run their tutoring business chaotically using several different tools, you can gain a significant advantage over them by investing in a single tutoring software that’s far more professional and elegant.

And best of all, you’re able to customize your software with your own logo and URL, which highlights your professionalism to potential clients.

At this point, you’re probably wondering how much tutoring software’s going to cost because surely a product this useful and versatile must come with a hefty price tag?

While there are many pricey tutoring platforms out there, the one we’ve built at Pearl is extremely affordable. With Pearl, you get one fixed monthly price, so instead of having variable costs every month from numerous suppliers, you’ll have just one payment to consider, making your budgeting far easier.

On top of that, you’ll have technical support included in the price too, so if you have any questions or issues with Pearl, you’ll be able to get help quickly.

If you’re interested in learning more about Pearl and scheduling a demo of our best-in-class tutoring software, get in touch with us today.

Why Tutoring Is Essential in Combating COVID-19 Learning Loss

Why Tutoring Is Essential in Combating COVID-19 Learning Loss

Continuity of learning is an important consideration in ensuring students’ performance during an extended absence. Think back to your first day of school after a long summer break. There’s a good chance that you wouldn’t perform very well if you took a test on last year’s knowledge right then and there. This reduction in performance is a well-documented phenomenon known as summer learning loss, and it’s the reason why there are summer classes or intervention programs.

Now scale up the problem to almost a year without school, and you get the learning loss associated with COVID-19. What’s more, besides the lack of schooling, many students were also unable to leave their homes at all during the pandemic, creating listless kids who couldn’t do anything else but stay cooped up at home.

What Is the Extent of COVID-19 Learning Loss?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the response across countries has varied, resulting in differences in how the pandemic-induced learning loss has occurred. 

However, according to one study, learning loss is still present even in “best-case scenarios” such as the Netherlands, where lockdown was only 8 weeks long and educational funding and internet access are widespread. Even with these advantages, national examination results revealed that students suffered a loss of approximately 3 percentile points, which translates to about a fifth of a school year.  

A study by the Asian Development Bank also shows that learning losses are proportionate to the length of school closure. In Pacific regions, schools remained mostly open, and experienced learning losses of about 8%. Meanwhile, South Asian schools were closed for much longer periods of time, resulting in learning losses of up to 55%! 

A large body of research shows that American students were also strongly affected by learning losses. The NWEA showed that students who took the MAP Growth test in the fall of 2020 scored 5 to 10 percentile points lower in math assessments. Another testing company, Renaissance, demonstrated that students lost 7 points in math assessments and 1 point in reading assessments.

Furthermore, research by McKinsey during the early pandemic illustrated how learning loss may also impact future earnings for American students. Based on an epidemiological scenario where classes did not resume until January 2021 (closely mirroring the real-world results), McKinsey predicted losses of $61,000 to $82,000 in lifetime earnings for K-12 students.

Tutoring: A Powerful Tool to Combat COVID-19 Learning Loss

It’s clear that COVID-19 learning loss is a real problem with measurable results. Thankfully, there is a powerful tool in the arsenal of parents and educators to combat COVID-19 learning loss and improve student outcomes: tutoring.

Historically, attempts to scale up tutoring across all students have been met with resistance, owing to the financial resources involved in subsidizing tutoring costs for each student. However, with the threat of learning loss looming over every student in America, the government has begun efforts to expand tutoring programs to curb the learning loss fueled by the pandemic. 

One such  federal government-led effort is the American Rescue Plan (ARP), a $122 billion stimulus package, of which $25 billion is allocated to addressing learning loss. The American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) recommends the implementation of programs that are proven to improve student outcomes, including high-impact tutoring.

What Are the Benefits of Tutoring?

Tutoring has long demonstrated its effectiveness in improving educational outcomes. In J-PAL’s meta-analysis of 96 studies on tutoring models, 80% of studies showed that tutoring causes improved outcomes for students. One standout example showed that two-to-one high school tutoring in Chicago accelerated students’ learning in math by as much as 1-2 years! Overall, students experienced an improvement of about 0.37 standard deviations, which translates to a 50th percentile student being bumped up to the 66th percentile.

And this isn’t limited to in-person tutoring. One study showed how online tutoring can cause improvements in test results for students. Another study of Italian middle school students demonstrated that three hours of weekly online tutoring caused a 4.7% increase in math, English, and Italian test scores. This improvement doubled when the duration of weekly tutoring was doubled as well.

What Can Parents Do For Their Child’s Tutoring Needs?

While the education world is finally catching on to the potential benefits of tutoring students to combat learning loss, government action plans may take some time to implement. If you want to minimize your child’s learning losses now, private tutoring is the best course of action. Here are important steps to take to address this issue for your child:

1. Get Professional Private Tutors

The J-PAL study showed that who does the tutoring is a big factor in student outcomes. Trained teachers and professional tutors showed greater outcomes than tutoring programs that were delivered by nonprofessionals and caregivers. It’s important, therefore, to select a tutoring company that uses trained professional tutors to support your child’s needs.

2. Invest in Frequent, Small-Scale Tutoring

Two factors stand out in determining the success of tutoring—the ratio of students to tutors, where one-on-one is best, and the frequency of tutoring. Research has shown that high-dosage tutoring (HDT), defined as one-on-one tutoring three times a week, demonstrates excellent results in improving students’ grades. In contrast, a study showed that four-to-one tutoring resulted in no effects on student outcomes, on average.

One-on-one tutoring costs more, as do more frequent sessions. However, this is a critical part of ensuring the success of your child’s tutoring and preventing the much more costly long-term effects of learning loss on their educational journey and lifetime earnings.

3. The Earlier, the Better

Saga Education, a nonprofit educational consulting company, found that early elementary students strongly benefited from high-frequency tutoring programs compared to late elementary students in reading tutoring. So even your younger children certainly stand to gain from starting early. 

Tackle COVID-19 Learning Loss Now

The effects of learning loss compound with time as they remain unaddressed. At the same time, schools are being met with repeated re-openings and closures due to repeated outbreaks, further interrupting the return to normalcy. 

To protect your child against learning loss, it’s best to put them on a tutoring program right away to ensure that their learning is supported continuously.

For best results, you should work with a tutoring company that only provides professionally-trained tutors with individualized learning plans for each student as the best student outcomes come from instruction that is tailored to each child’s particular strengths and weaknesses.