What Is High Impact Tutoring?

What Is High Impact Tutoring

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.

High-impact tutoring programs uphold 3 core pillars: 

  1. Equity: All students should have access to the program, where the teachers are intentionally trained to conduct sessions with equity at its core.
  1. Safety: Multiple policies and systems are also in place to guarantee a safe learning environment for the child. 
  1. 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.