Key Considerations for Designing High-Impact Tutoring Programs: Learning from NCLB Supplemental Education Services

Researchers, across multiple studies, find that tutoring can dramatically accelerate student achievement in both math and reading.1 However, previous efforts to expand access to tutoring through federally-mandated Supplemental Education Services (SES) under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 show little to no effect on student outcomes.2 Now with over a billion dollars in federal covid-relief funding slated for tutoring, what can we learn from districts’ experiences with SES to do better this time, so that this new tutoring lives up to its promise for students? 

This brief draws on a systematic review of research to highlight ways that districts can improve current tutoring implementation using knowledge gained from SES. 

Key Takeaways

Districts can design tutoring programs to foster instructional quality, student engagement, and student learning.

  • Integrate tutoring into the school day to maximize access for students who could benefit the most.
  • Ensure that students have access to tutoring services as part of their regular academic support without requiring parental opt-in.
  • Establish a budget to allow tutoring to occur 3-5 times a week over an extended period of time for a focus group of students.
  • Identify an instructional strategy that supports differentiated tutoring instruction with a focus on students’ assets and needs.
  • If partnering with external tutoring providers, construct a request for proposals (RFP) to gather information on providers’ instructional approaches and monitor implementation to assure quality instruction.