New study highlights tutoring as effective solution for pandemic learning loss

In the wake of the global health crisis, educational institutions nationwide are grappling with a pressing issue of student performance. The majority of students will need at least three school years to make up for the academic setbacks endured during the pandemic. Particularly vulnerable were students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds.

Responding to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the federal government allocated $190 billion in stimulus aid to the K–12 public education system through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. District leaders were empowered to choose various interventions to address the learning gaps caused by the pandemic, such as intensive tutoring, small-group programs, after-school initiatives, and extended school years. Among these interventions, tutoring emerged as a popular choice among education leaders.

Recent debates have surfaced regarding the surge in investment in high-intensity tutoring, questioning the scientific basis for such decisions. Paul T. von Hippel critically examined a seminal 1984 study by Benjamin Bloom that claimed tutoring could elevate student achievement by two standard deviations. Von Hippel’s analysis suggests that this assertion may be exaggerated and oversimplified. Writer Frederick Hess, in Forbes, also casts doubt on the notion that tutoring can produce such remarkable gains, emphasizing that tutoring is just one of many strategies for enhancing educational outcomes.

While it is acknowledged that tutoring can be an effective tool, the notion that it consistently leads to a two-standard deviation improvement in student performance is likely overstated. Nevertheless, it’s crucial not to lose sight of the fact that tutoring has shown significant impact compared to other educational interventions.

A recent meta-analysis of 89 randomized control trials on tutoring interventions by Andre Nickow and collaborators revealed that tutoring can boost student achievement by an average of 0.29 standard deviations, equivalent to around four extra months of learning for elementary students. This research, encompassing studies from 1985 to 2019, underlines the superiority of tutoring over other interventions in improving student outcomes.

Exaggerating the benefits of tutoring would be a misstep, as tutoring alone cannot resolve achievement gaps instantaneously. The efficacy of tutoring varies widely, and further research is needed to identify effective tutoring models tailored to different student needs and educational contexts. It’s imperative to ascertain the key features that contribute to improved student achievement, including tutor qualifications, teaching modalities, and student-tutor ratios.

At Accelerate, our focus is on conducting extensive research to better understand the impact of tutoring on student achievement and facilitate evidence-based decision-making in education. We aim to identify successful tutoring models that can be scaled up to benefit a larger percentage of students experiencing learning challenges. With the current educational landscape marked by substantial learning loss, tutoring remains a potent strategy for accelerating academic recovery and bridging achievement disparities.

Matthew P. Steinberg is the Managing Director of Research and Evaluation at Accelerate.

The post To Address Pandemic Learning Loss, Evidence Points to Tutoring appeared first on Education Next.

Other articles

Post Image
Education
Students candidly share their struggles and experiences in college

By Joshua Bay July 22, 2024 Community college student Jennifer Toledo revealed t …

Read More
Post Image
Education
Reflecting on the Republican Party’s Stance on Education After the Convention

As the Republican National Convention concludes, the education commentariat is m …

Read More
Post Image
Education
President Joe Biden declines to pursue reelection campaign, Harris pledges nomination victory.

President Joe Biden exited the 2024 presidential race on Sunday, revealing his d …

Read More