By now, every educator in America has seen firsthand the results of learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While covid has negatively impacted most students, it has especially exacerbated pre-existing educational inequities for low-income and other at-risk students. The impacts of the pandemic on the educational system are both immediate and long-term, as alarming news headlines such as “Learning loss to become $17 Trillion in earning loss for students not in school” become all-too-common.
Dr. Susanna Loeb, the Director of the Annenberg Institute at Brown University, has been leading discussions among academics who’ve offered very promising evidence-based solutions to combat learning loss. In our January 2022 Pearls of Wisdom webinar interview with Dr. Loeb (embedded below), she shared exciting details of her organization’s work with Pearl’s Chief Revenue Officer Nate Casey. We’ve summarized the discussion into a three-part blog series to highlight the webinar’s key points. In Part I, we discussed the benefits of high-impact tutoring and now, in Part II, we’ll be summarizing Dr. Loeb’s work with the National Student Support Accelerator at the Annenberg Institute.
Learning Loss: A Pandemic-Fueled Crisis
“Early in the pandemic, it became clear that the disruptions to schools—and the economic and health shocks to families—were going to create severe challenges for many students,” Dr. Loeb noted in the webinar interview. “Some students thrived at home and in online settings, but others experienced extreme hardship and were fundamentally disengaged from school.”
After meeting with educators and education thought-leaders to review the problem, Dr. Loeb and her colleagues found the ideal solution. “We quickly identified tutoring as a high-potential option for catching students up, re-engaging them in school, and broadly reducing some of the striking and expanding inequalities.”
“Tutoring,” she stated, “quickly rose to the top of the list of potential solutions because of the large body of research pointing to its effectiveness in catching students up across grade levels and content areas. Research also shows specific success in supporting those students who are furthest behind.”
Dr. Loeb was quick to point out, however, that simply throwing money at the problem has never been an effective approach. “Many of us remembered the No Child Left Behind era in which billions of dollars were spent on a different type of tutoring that turned out not to be terribly effective or equitable.” Her group’s goal was to avoid such wasteful outcomes while addressing other challenges simultaneously.
Enter: the National Student Support Accelerator
Dr. Loeb and her peers needed a solution that would remain effective while scaling. “We were aware that tutoring on a large scale had been attempted before, but with low quality and poor results,” she noted. To tackle the issue, the Annenberg Institute proposed to launch the National Student Support Accelerator to scale high-quality, high-impact tutoring. “Our mission at the Accelerator is to increase access to high-impact tutoring for K-12 students in need,” she stated, clarifying how the work will involve “conducting and coordinating research to know more about what makes tutoring effective and cost-effective” and “what enabling conditions allow it to scale.”
Another vital attribute of the Accelerator is collaboration across the board to ensure everyone is actively working toward goal achievement. “We work to engage and activate stakeholders to support districts and states to implement high-impact tutoring more easily,” Dr. Loeb said before transitioning to the numerous features and benefits of the Accelerator program.
The Accelerator’s Resources and Tools for High-Impact Tutoring
“The Accelerator has a range of tools to support the implementation of high-impact tutoring that are available free on our website,” affirmed Dr. Loeb. “Each of the tools is developed with the field to ensure they are practical and easy to use.”
Below is a summary of each currently available tutoring resource:
“Toolkit for Tutoring provides guidance for creating a high-impact tutoring program or improving an existing program. It will take you step by step through the process, including identifying needs, and all the way to sample letters to send to parents and job descriptions.”
“The District Playbook provides guidance for districts interested in implementing high-impact tutoring. It has everything from checklists of how to plan for tutoring or how to partner with a tutoring organization to what type of human resource capacity is required to be successful.”
Specifically, the free, downloadable Playbook shows users how to develop and launch programs via the following steps: Lay the Foundation, Plan for Effective Operations, Design for Impact, and Implement High-Impact Tutoring.
Created for High-Impact Tutoring Advocacy, the Educator Guide “provides educators with the information and tools to understand the value of high-impact tutoring and how it might work at their district or school how to encourage their district or school to consider adopting high-impact tutoring.”
This useful guide was made in conjunction with the Tutoring Advisory Group and offers sample emails, program examples, FAQs, presentations, talking points, and a one-pager about the benefits of the Accelerator.
The free Tutoring Quality Improvement System “allows tutoring programs to quickly assess their program against a set of research-based quality standards and provides detailed recommendations for how to improve their program’s quality.”
The Annenberg Institute publishes its research on tutoring to date, along with “priority questions to guide for future learning.” Additional research soon to be released includes data on Early Literacy programs and more.
Given that low-income families were hit hardest by the pandemic (with impacts including profound student learning loss and increased school absenteeism), the National Student Support Accelerator “envisions a time when every student in need has access to an effective tutor who champions and ensures their learning and success.” We wish the best of success for this urgently-needed national program.
Stay tuned for Part III of our recap of the webinar with Dr. Susanna Loeb which offers an insightful comparison of online and in-person tutoring effectiveness and reviews the best tutoring strategies.
You can also watch the entire webinar below, and be sure to sign up to be notified about Pearl’s upcoming webinars!
Soon after the COVID-19 pandemic began, the combined consequences on health, the economy, and K-12 schools started to take their toll. Students around the country found themselves attending classes online from home, but while some thrived, many experienced hardships and struggled to stay engaged. The pandemic’s effects were especially hard on students from low-income families, with impacts such as more profound learning loss, wider knowledge gaps, and increased absenteeism.
The country is now well into its third year coping with this continuing crisis, and many valuable lessons have been learned along the way. Several academic organizations have researched the above-mentioned impacts that remote learning has had on at-risk students and have explored ways to address the damage of learning loss and mitigate it moving forward. One such institute is the Annenberg Institute at Brown University in Rhode Island, whose director, Dr. Susanna Loeb, is featured in a Pearls of Wisdom webinar on our YouTube channel (full video embedded below).
This article will summarize some of the key points on high-impact tutoring that Dr. Loeb made in the January 2022 webinar with our CRO Nate Casey. In the webinar, Dr. Loeb noted that “studies across the nation have shown that students this year are significantly behind similar students in their pre-pandemic learning.” Among the many studies which support her claim is one from curriculum provider Amplify. Amplify’s research revealed that of ~400,000 kindergartners whose data was reviewed, only 37% were on track in their early reading skills, equating to an 18% drop from pre-pandemic years. It further observed that students’ learning loss “due to COVID may have life-long consequences if they are not provided with additional instructional support.”
The McKinsey report further cited that the “pandemic widened preexisting opportunity and achievement gaps, hitting historically disadvantaged students hardest.” Black students experienced particularly harmful effects, with “six months of unfinished learning” in math alone (and seven months for those in low-income schools).
As a result, McKinsey projected that affected high school students are more likely to drop out and seniors are less likely to attend college. As a result, long-term effects might likely include significantly lower lifetime earnings and putting future generations at risk by perpetuating a cycle of educational and economic obstacles.
To break the cycle, Dr. Loeb has met with educators and education leaders to discuss and identify solutions. Chief among the listed possible solutions is tutoring. “Tutoring rose to the top,” asserted Dr. Loeb in the webinar, “because of the large body of research pointing to its effectiveness in catching students up across grade levels and content areas.” She praised tutoring as a “high-potential option for catching students up, re-engaging them in school, and broadly reducing some of the striking and expanding inequalities.”
However, tutoring is not without its own challenges, which is why Dr. Loeb and others aim to avoid the mistakes of past decades. “Many of us remember the No Child Left Behind era in which billions were spent on a type of tutoring that turned out not to be terribly effective or equitable,” she cautioned. She also acknowledged the challenge of scaling tutoring efforts to a magnitude large enough to make a difference.
To address these hurdles, Dr. Loeb suggests a method known as high-impact tutoring. “Effective tutoring requires more than just high-dosage (the amount of tutoring a student participates in). The consistency of the tutor, the tutor’s training and ongoing coaching, and the use of data and high-quality materials for instruction are also important to ensure effectiveness.”
In the webinar, Dr. Loeb reviewed the hallmarks of high-impact tutoring, which include:
Embedded tutoring – done during the school day, a minimum of 3 days per week
Use of small groups – up to 3 students
Use of student learning data – to inform tutoring sessions and focus lessons on student needs, thus accelerating learning
Consistency – using tutors who are trained and supported, resulting in positive and effective tutor-student relationships
Discussing these highlights, Dr. Loeb noted the key element of maintaining quality while scaling. “The desire to increase scale tends to come with a push to decrease quality, increasing the number of students per tutor or decreasing the number of times per week or not providing coaching for tutors.” For this reason, she emphasizes “high-impact instead of high-dosage” approaches.
“High-impact programs provide a lot of tutoring with quality,” she stated in the webinar. “It is clearly better to give a smaller number of students really high-quality tutoring than all students low-quality tutoring to increase equity.”
“The benefit of tutoring,” she continued, “comes from two mechanisms: the close relationship that students and tutors develop, and the focus on the individual student’s specific needs. The tutor has to have the data and take the time to know what the student knows and doesn’t know.” Homing in more on the importance of data, she pointed out that “high-impact tutoring uses formative assessments to understand what students know and don’t know.” Thus, data is vital “to identify and address issues and to continuously improve.”
In closing, Dr. Loeb reiterated how modern research offers ample proof in support of her proposals. “Rarely in research do we have so much evidence pointing to the promise of a specific intervention. High-impact tutoring is really the only intervention that has proven effectiveness across a range of grade levels, content areas, and locations. The driving force behind its effectiveness is the excellent relationships tutors and students develop. Our goal at the Annenberg Institute is to provide all students with the same access to high-impact tutoring.”
Stay tuned for Parts II and III of our recap of Dr. Susanna Loeb’s webinar with Pearl’s Nate Casey. These upcoming articles will review how the Annenberg Institute’s National Student Support Accelerator aims to help students recover from learning loss (in Part II), and will offer a comparison of online and in-person tutoring effectiveness and how to find the most effective tutoring strategies (in Part III).
You can also watch the full webinar below and be sure to sign up to be notified of upcoming webinars!
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to devastating learning loss among student populations around the country while creating a chance for entrepreneurial tutors to rush in and save the day! The year 2021 saw tutoring become a hot side hustle for some and a full-time business endeavor for others. Now, in 2022, many tutors are continuing to offer their tutoring services as part-time gigs, while those with broader goals are launching highly-profitable, scalable tutoring enterprises.
No matter how big or small your tutoring business is, at some point, you’re going to need professional software to help you stay organized and manage your tutoring enterprise. Here are 6 signs you’re ready to take things to the next level with professional tutoring business software.
1. Your inbox is clogged
Your tutoring business must stay on top of communications to maintain a professional reputation. If you’re struggling to keep track of important messages with clients via email, it’s probably past time to move on to a better way of doing things.
Each time students miss scheduled tutoring sessions, that’s a loss of revenue for your business. Of course, you can set a policy to charge for missed appointments, but that might lead to frustrations with clients.
The simplest way to address this issue is with a built-in reminder system that keeps students, parents—and you—on time and on schedule. Pearl lets you book, view, and manage appointments quickly and send calendar reminders for upcoming tutoring sessions.
3. You need an easier payment management
Are you tired of wasting time with manual accounting for your business tax purposes? Want to get rid of the hassle of checks or cash payments, but need a more efficient way to manage credit card payments for your tutoring sessions?
At Pearl, our tutoring software offers easy-to-use storefront payment management features that help you do all these things and more!
4. You’re struggling to keep track of student progress
Tutoring is a financial investment for clients, and sometimes clients wonder how effective their sessions are. The fastest way to show them is through progress tracking, which helps your business demonstrate the value of your tutoring services. When clients see their return on investment, you’ll retain them longer.
Pearl was built by tutors for tutors, so we’ve built progress tracking tools right into our tutoring platform.
5. You need more virtual classroom features
Many tutors conducting online lessons rely on video conferencing tools like Zoom or Google Meet to connect with students. Unfortunately, such tools weren’t built for educational purposes and often lack essential features you may need to share information or hold your students’ interest.
Pearl’s tutoring business software includes more engaging video conferencing with whiteboards and screen sharing conveniently built into your dashboard.
6. You need the ability to review lessons
Both clients and tutors love the ability to record sessions for later viewing. This capability allows students to go back and review material while enabling tutors to look for areas where students might be losing focus during lessons.
Too many tutoring entrepreneurs try to scrape by without the proper tools at their disposal, leading to wasted time, points of frustration, and potential loss of customers.
Pearl takes the headache out of managing your daily operations so you can focus on the things that are most important—such as teaching students effectively…and growing your tutoring business!
To schedule a demo and see Pearl in action, get in touch with us today by filling out this contact form.
Is your child struggling to keep up with school? COVID-19 disrupted the education system, but high-impact tutoring is the solution. Learn how your kids can benefit from it.
COVID-19 may be under control for now, but the consequences it left behind continue to affect our lives. In the education sector, student outcomes are now seeing a dramatic drop in subject proficiencies due to disrupted classes.
In fact, more than half (60%) of fourth-graders are failing in math proficiency, and nearly two-thirds are failing in reading. The numbers only get worse among eighth-graders, proving that students across the United States have experienced “learning loss” due to the pandemic. And we need to act fast to turn things around.
Fortunately, several states have already introduced and enacted a policy for introducing high-impact tutor training styles to help students get back on track. High-impact tutoring has proven to be effective in assisting students to achieve better outcomes, and increases their learning capability by up to 15 months across grade levels.
Let’s discuss why high-impact tutoring is so significant and why it’s an excellent investment for your child, especially during these unprecedented times.
What Is High-Impact Tutoring and How Does It Work?
High-impact tutoring focuses on meeting individual students’ needs and building a close relationship with them. It’s an approach that aims to understand what areas the student struggles with and adapts the teaching strategy accordingly. This methodology is meant to complement traditional schooling. It does not replace it.
According to the National Student Support Accelerator, high-impact tutoring revolves around a growth cycle.
A student first receives high-quality materials at a high-dosage, where they study for at least 2-3 hours per week. The lessons are then integrated into school, where the trained tutor will see how the student is performing. Using the results as indicators of the student’s capabilities, the tutor adjusts the materials and continues teaching.
Source: National Student Support Accelerator
Compared to regular teachers, high-impact tutors are supported by ongoing coaching and accountability. They are highly knowledgeable about the subjects they teach and are skilled at building relationships-something that’s crucial for effective teaching.
Moreover, high-impact tutoring content meets state standards and applies the latest educational research. These materials build on classroom lessons and prioritize quality over matching the school’s curriculum. In other words, they are uniquely designed according to the student’s needs, not just the requirements needed for passing classroom exams.
Equity: All students should have access to the program, where the teachers are intentionally trained to conduct sessions with equity at its core.
Safety: Multiple policies and systems are also in place to guarantee a safe learning environment for the child.
Cohesion: All elements of the learning program are designed to work together as a complete package.
Why Should You Choose a High-Impact Tutor for Your Child?
To quote Monica Bhatt, the senior research director at the University of Chicago’s Education Lab, “[a]s education leaders look for ways to help students recover academically from the pandemic, a new study points to intensive, high-dosage tutoring as a potential solution.”
There are a number of design principles that make high-impact tutoring effective. EdResearch for Recovery provides reliable data and reasons as to why it produces significant learning gains for students, providing help for those who have fallen behind academically:
Frequency: High-impact tutoring is delivered at a high dosage for optimum outcomes. Having at least 3 sessions per week, for 30 to 60 minutes each, is the minimum frequency required to get optimal results.
Personnel: The tutors are equipped with unique skills beyond a regular teacher’s ability. They are not your typical teachers-they may even be AmeriCorps members and teaching assistants that are just as effective at tutoring both one-on-one and small groups.
Measurement: High-impact tutoring uses data to assess students and customize instructions. For example, the Reading Partners program conducts mid-year and end-of-year assessments to update student materials, giving tutors the data necessary to create personalized lessons.
Curriculum: High-impact tutoring content reinforces classroom content to strengthen the student’s understanding. In fact, tutoring interventions increased student achievement by 3 to 15 months of learning.
Delivery Mode: Research shows that distance learning is just as effective as in-person classes. In fact, a recent evaluation of the Saga Education tutoring program found that a blended or hybrid model increases student learning just as much as expensive, in-person tutoring does.
Group Size: High-impact tutoring ensures that class size won’t hinder personalized instructions, making sure that they are only grouped by skill level and required teaching. Large-scale tutoring programs still generate an average effect size of 0.25 standard deviations.
Focus: All students can benefit from high-impact tutoring. Younger students generally benefit the most from reading-focused materials, while older ones benefit more from math-related subjects. A study of Math tutoring programs saw a reduction in math course failures by 50%, and increased the overall math grades of ninth and tenth graders.
Relationships: High-impact tutoring builds relationships to better understand students’ needs. Moreover, tutoring programs built on trust and connection with the students support a wide range of benefits, including the students’ social-emotional well-being and outlook towards education.
Scheduling: High-impact tutoring during the school day results in twice the amount of learning gains, as shown by a recent meta-analysis of tutoring. It’s largely because tutoring during school days facilitates a more learning-focused culture.
Prioritization: The program targets all students in a lower-performing grade-removing the negative perception that tutoring is a punishment for below-average students. It also mitigates learning loss from COVID-19, where inequality in educational outcomes and access to professional tutors have increased.
As you can see, the effectiveness of high-impact tutoring is backed by strong evidence. If you’re a parent who is concerned about your child’s academic standing, especially if they’re grappling with COVID-19-fueled learning loss, choosing high-impact tutoring means giving them a chance to boost their learning and improve their outlook towards education.
FAQs About High-Impact Tutoring
If you still have concerns about high-impact tutoring, here are a few answers to frequently asked questions:
Q: Is there a difference between high-impact tutoring, high-intensity tutoring, or high-dosage tutoring?
A: No, there is no difference. All of them are one-on-one or small group instructional programs designed to heighten a student’s ability to learn and increase their stocked knowledge.
Q: Isn’t it better to just let my child repeat the grade?
There is no straightforward answer to this, as some students will certainly benefit from repeating a grade level. However, repeating a grade may backfire by hurting the child’s confidence and potentially increasing the chances of them dropping out of school eventually. Giving them the opportunity to accelerate instead will be much healthier in the long run.
Q: How will high-impact tutoring policy changes affect students?
A: The federal government can help scale high-impact tutoring programs to students by increasing funding for school districts, expanding national service programs, and issuing guidelines to how the tutoring programs can serve all students.
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%!
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.