Christy Borders is frank about the “pain points” Illinois has faced while working to get an intensive tutoring initiative up and running.
Officials underestimated how much they’d have to pay tutors. Some schools offered tutoring after school, but few students attended. Even with training, tutors didn’t always use the tried-and-true strategies for helping students.
To course-correct, state officials boosted pay to $50 an hour, helped schools redesign their programs to offer tutoring during the school day, and coached tutors who needed support.
“The truth is that there are a lot of scabbed knees and bruises in this work,” Borders, who oversees the state’s tutoring effort, said at a conference held last week at Stanford University about the future of tutoring. “Not going to sugar coat this, guys. It’s hard work.”
Early in the pandemic, experts identified high-dosage tutoring — the kind that’s offered multiple times per week, in small groups, with a consistent tutor — as a potentially successful strategy for helping students plug learning gaps. But more than two years into a national push to expand the reach of tutoring, many schools are still struggling with basics, like how to staff and schedule their programs.
Now, as COVID relief funds dwindle, some big questions remain, including: What are the best ways to get high-dosage tutoring to more students? And how can schools keep their programs going when those federal dollars are gone?
A key group of researchers, school leaders, and tutoring organizations attempted to answer some of those questions at the recent convening hosted by the National Student Support Accelerator, a Stanford program that shares research and helps schools launch tutoring programs.