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How Tutoring Can Help Close the Learning Gap

Students with learning gaps often benefit from personalized tutoring instruction. Taught by experts in their fields, tutors give students time and attention necessary for them to grasp information effectively and retain it long term.

Tutors can also help their students feel more at ease asking questions in an informal and non-threatening setting, leading them to become more self-confident learners.

High-Dose Tutoring

High-dose tutoring aims to prepare students for grade-level work rather than remediate gaps in their learning. Therefore, it should complement classroom instruction rather than replace it; and take place outside the regular school day on a smaller scale if possible.

Research on the impacts of high-dosage tutoring is extensive, with ample evidence pointing to its success. Indeed, high-dose tutoring tends to produce larger effects sizes than most interventions.

Implementing such a program across schools across the nation presents challenges. To ensure teachers and their teams understand what the goal of tutoring should be–to prepare students for grade-level lessons and beyond–it must also recognize that tutoring should not replace classroom teaching. Furthermore, strong data systems will be necessary to ensure effective support is being offered; districts should be flexible enough to adjust strategies based on this data, providing tutors with training on curriculum content, engagement strategies, and ways to monitor progress of individual pupils.

One-on-One Tutoring

One-on-one tutoring gives children a great opportunity to form strong bonds with their educators, increasing confidence and encouraging hard work. Furthermore, tutors can offer instantaneous feedback and guidance – something which is key as students can easily get stuck on concepts without assistance immediately available to them.

Tutoring programs can also level the playing field between students from well-funded school districts and their peers from historically disadvantaged neighborhoods, by providing access to high-impact tutoring programs which can address learning loss, improve attendance and raise grades across both core subjects and non-core classes.

Advocates agree that effective tutoring requires repeated contact–ideally three times a week or 50 hours over the semester–as well as strong program design and leadership. One-on-one tutoring may prove more cost effective while still offering enough students enough support to make an impactful difference in academic achievement.

Small Group Tutoring

Group tutoring allows students to interact and learn from one another. Students in the same grade level meet in groups during weekly tutoring sessions to either work together on projects, or be guided through lessons by their tutor. Sometimes tutors also facilitate group discussion around various topics to encourage participation from all. Group tutoring sessions may help shy students express themselves more freely as well as build communication skills essential to college life and professional life.

Group tutoring sessions tend to be cheaper than one-on-one sessions, making them easier for families to access. Furthermore, group tutoring normalizes help-seeking behaviors among students, helping them realize they’re not the only ones struggling. Furthermore, it teaches them it’s okay not knowing; all key components in closing the learning gap. 2022 data indicates that disadvantaged children start school significantly behind their advantaged counterparts, with this gap widening each year they attend school.

Online Tutoring

Students can quickly make strides with tutoring and experience a sense of success in their studies, giving them the confidence needed to return to school ready to learn in September.

Studies show that tutoring can be most effective when delivered over an extended period, meaning regular sessions with one tutor over time. Online tutoring offers this support easily and affordably.

Tutoring programs should ensure they hire tutors with experience and an understanding of how students learn. Furthermore, they should prioritize transparency for teachers by recording all student and tutor interactions (Smarthinking is one such solution) so they can monitor how their students are progressing safely while making informed decisions regarding support needs. Online interactions also reduce some of the hassles associated with traditional in-person tutoring: scheduling conflicts are no longer a factor and nonverbal cues like body language are less obvious.

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