With the return to in-person learning in sight, K-12 leaders are urgently setting priorities for the coming school year. Each spring, educators are eager to find that “just right” approach to their biggest challenges. As a former middle and high school principal, I know that’s especially true after a tough year—and no year has been tougher than this one.
For many leaders, accelerating student learning is top-of-mind, and one method that has garnered a lot of recent attention is high-impact tutoring. The National Student Support Accelerator, founded this year at the Annenberg Institute at Brown University to promote and support high-impact tutoring, defines it as one-to-one or small-group support that supplements classroom learning and complements existing curriculum by focusing on specific goals in response to individual students’ needs. This kind of tutoring is also known as “high-intensity tutoring” or “high-dosage tutoring.”
The Annenberg Institute received a $999,260 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation last month to fund the National Student Support Accelerator. The NSSA research aims to strengthen and grow high-impact tutoring programs and opportunities for K-12 students nationwide. This funding will support the project for two years.
The new National Student Support Accelerator, housed at the Annenberg Institute at Brown University, launched to accelerate the growth of high-impact tutoring opportunities for K–12 students in need. The accelerator coordinates and synthesizes tutoring research and uses that research to develop publicly available tools and technical assistance to support districts and schools to develop high-impact tutoring programs for students.
“This is a big infrastructure commitment,” Little said. “Dallas ISD — and no district really — has tried to have that many tutors come in a short amount of time. We’re going to have to be really creative and exhaustive in exploring every avenue to source tutors.”
DISD will partner with Brown University’s National Student Support Accelerator, Little said, as it moves forward. The initiative works to create effective, research-based tutoring programs across the country.
The National Student Success Accelerator’s mission is to expand high-impact tutoring opportunities for all K-12 students in need. The NSSA is a research-based field-building organization that seeks to drive scaling and continual improvement in the quality of tutoring.
The NSSA began with a group of educators convening around the issue of COVID-19 learning loss and the potential of tutoring as a solution. We are currently seeking to hire our founding Executive Director to further lead the organization through its initial organizational development and launching its initial set of programs and services.
Saga Education, the national nonprofit behind one of the most studied personalized tutoring programs in the country, today announced the launch of Saga Coach, a free, self-paced online training portal that covers the essential components of effective tutoring. The training is based on Saga's experience as a proven implementer of high-dosage, high-impact tutoring programs serving thousands of students in major U.S. school districts like Chicago, New York City, Washington, D.C. and Broward County, Fla.
“There is a lot of evidence that tutoring can produce large learning gains for a wide range of students, especially students who have fallen behind,” says Carly Robinson, a postdoctoral research associate at the institute. “Tutoring raised to the top of the list of what could put a dent in unprecedented learning loss. Tutoring works.”
The institute quickly developed the National Student Support Accelerator, still in its startup phase, to bring together researchers, schools and donors to help give K-12 students nationwide access to tutoring. Robinson says the goal is to make tutoring effective and then implement that effectiveness at scale.
Done well, high-impact tutoring can help individual students accelerate their learning and increase their engagement with school, said Susanna Loeb, director of the Annenberg Institute at Brown University and a panelist. But designed poorly, tutoring can be ineffective, she said.
As momentum grows to build high-quality tutoring opportunities into the school day, and as more federal stimulus funding for student learning becomes available, districts should consider tutoring initiatives, Loeb said. “This may be the best opportunity we'll have to get this proven intervention built into schools for the long run, to provide all students in need with the high-impact tutoring to supplement their classroom work,” she said.
High-Impact tutoring — i.e., tutoring delivered three or more times a week by consistent, trained tutors using quality materials and data to inform instruction — is one of the most effective academic interventions, providing an average of more than four months of additional learning in elementary literacy and almost 10 months in high school math, according to research from the Annenberg Institute at Brown University (learn more here). The National Student Support Accelerator offers open-source Accelerator tools and resources to help ensure more equitable access to quality tutoring. These research-backed tools and supports are easy to use and downloadable, and are designed to make structuring, implementing and scaling high-quality, high-impact tutoring programs as straightforward as possible.
A new policy brief examines the research evidence behind tutoring and what design principles for tutoring have shown to be important for boosting student achievement. The report is titled Accelerating Student Learning with High-Dosage Tutoring. It’s coauthored by Dr. Carly Robinson, Dr. Matthew Kraft and Dr. Susanna Loeb of the Annenberg Institute at Brown University, as well as Dr. Beth Schueler of the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Virginia.
The National Student Support Accelerator: Launched a new website that includes a summary of current tutoring research, a toolkit to make it easy to launch a new tutoring program or improve an existing tutoring program, and a tutoring program database, along with updated information on the Accelerator’s pilot sites and state-level policy recommendations.
The Education Lab conducted a study that demonstrates individualized, intensive (or “high-dosage”) tutoring can double or triple the amount of math high school students learn each year, increase student grades, and reduce math and non-math course failures. The findings, which are the result of an intervention developed by the non-profit organization Saga Education, come as school districts across America grapple with the pandemic’s academic fallout, including significant learning loss among students and the acceleration of pre-existing educational disparities.
“The pandemic closed a lot of schools and in the process created even greater inequalities in the access students have to good educational opportunities,” said Susanna Loeb, a professor of education at Brown who directs the Annenberg Institute. “Many students weren’t able to connect, both metaphorically — as in, they found virtual learning very difficult — and literally — as in, they didn’t have internet access or the right technology. We came in thinking: ‘What is out there that could really accelerate the learning of students in need so that they don’t lose months or years of progress?’”
The COVID-19 pandemic has set back learning for millions of students and compounded educational inequities in our nation’s schools. Data suggest that the pandemic is disproportionately harming Black, Latinx, and low-income students.
There is near unanimous, bipartisan agreement that tutoring is among the most promising, evidence-based strategies to help students struggling with learning loss.
The original form of personalized learning — tutoring — is about to take a giant step forward. Pandemic-era learning loss has motivated a group of national education leaders to develop an initiative to make "high-impact tutoring" available to all K-12 students, no matter whether their families can afford tutoring or not. When the National Student Support Accelerator, launched by the Annenberg Institute at Brown University, is fully running, it will consist of several components...
Into this breach has stepped the Annenberg Institute at Brown University, which late last week announced the launch of its National School Support Accelerator. Partly a hands-on tutoring initiative and partly a research project, Annenberg is funding a variety of demonstration tutoring sites throughout the United States to study and refine what we know about tutoring. Eventually, it wants to spin off the project into its own organization.
"The trick, I think, is that when you scale something it's not as good as it is initially," said Susanna Loeb, the director of the Annenberg Institute. "How can we be careful so it scales at quality? What kind of resources are available so we know that it's quality, and they're doing it in a way that the research shows is most effective? That's really what this organization is aiming to do."
We are excited to share our plans for the National Student Support Accelerator!
The COVID-19 pandemic has widened existing educational inequities, causing an estimated 6 - 12 months of learning loss already. The National Student Support Accelerator’s vision is that all K-12 students in need have access to high-impact tutoring as part of their core educational experience that helps them learn and grow - to addressing COVID-19-related learning loss, and supporting academic success in the long term.