Relationships Matter: Student Connection Is Key to Building an Impactful Tutoring Program

Oct 23, 2023
Impactful tutoring program Edmentum article

Students are entering school with significant learning gaps, and educators are worried about how they will meet the diverse learning needs of the students in their classrooms, stay on schedule with standards, and help students get back up to grade level. For some schools, the solution could be a tutoring program that utilizes regular dosage and personal relationships for high impact.

High-dosage tutoring is a new and growing method designed to help students recover from learning loss. Unlike traditional tutoring, high-dosage tutoring is meant to provide more personalized instruction and greater impact via one-on-one tutoring or tutoring in very small groups. In our virtual event, our panelists discussed what the research says about high-dosage tutoring and how it has provided real results not only to students but also to their tutors.

Edmentum welcomed T. Ryan Hughes, executive director of the Tennessee Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs, and Susanna Loeb, director of the Annenberg Institute and professor of education at Brown University, for a virtual discussion on high-dosage and high-impact tutoring as an acceleration strategy and the ways schools and districts can bring it to their students.

Both featured experts agreed on the efficacy of high-dosage tutoring but recognized that it isn’t without its challenges, including personnel shortages, the due diligence required to get new employees on a school campus, and the difficulty of finding time in the day for this extra work to take place. But, they were quick to highlight all of the benefits of this method of learning, which include:

It's effective across grades and subject areas. The research shows that whereas some districts were using high-dosage tutoring to improve scores on state tests, many focused on developing early reading and literacy to build essential skills in young learners, and prealgebra/algebra to prepare students for high school curriculum. All groups saw progress using high-dose tutoring.

It’s more about the impact than the dose.
Panelist Susanna Loeb pointed out that a consistent tutor who is supported with coaching and data on students and who works to build a relationship with students has a greater impact on student success than simply the number of hours per week spent in tutoring. Students with tutors are celebrated for their academic achievements, are excited to have someone to share them with, and in turn, become even more enthusiastic about their in-class accomplishments.

Have we mentioned the relationships yet?
The connection and sense of belonging between tutor and student came up repeatedly during this conversation. Giving all students access to an adult who gives them time and attention and celebrates their wins, especially after the stress of the last few years, benefits everyone. In one Tennessee program, 85 percent of tutors said that the best part of their work was the meaningful relationships they built.

When properly implemented, it can enhance equity. Students who need additional academic support may also be the students who don’t have a ride home if they need to stay after school or who may have responsibilities after the last bell rings. Investigate ways to accommodate those students (scheduling, transportation, etc.) so that all students have equal access to the benefits of tutoring.

With proper planning, you can build it for the long haul.
Implementing a high-dosage tutoring program is neither easy nor impossible. Once you overcome initial tasks like background checks and recruiting tutors, you’ll have a new pipeline of people who are invested in students’ education to show them that their education matters and who may even decide to become certified and join the teaching profession. Being flexible with your tutors is key; if you have someone who has access to data about students, the skills to teach the subject matter, and the desire to build a relationship with students, then you have what you need for a strong tutor.

Check out the full recording of the discussion to hear more stories of successful tutoring programs, including the way a community-based organization was able to partner with the state to provide college-aged tutors who provided individualized, classroom-connected tutoring on the specific areas in which students needed support. The collaboration is incredible!

If you want to start your own high-dosage tutoring program but need instructional resources to support tutors, our online solutions like Exact Path and Apex Tutorials by Edmentum provide standards-aligned assessment, instruction, and reporting to provide tutors with high-quality instructional content that helps students focus on what they need most. If you want more of a shared responsibility model, we can provide live virtual tutoring led by Edmentum’s certified teachers. And if you want 24/7, one-to-one online tutoring, our partnership with FEV Tutor connects students with qualified online tutors.

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