Session Content

Implementation Checklist

  • Sessions have curricula with high quality materials that maintain rigor.
  • Session content complements classroom materials to support student mastery.
  • Sessions focus on targeted learning goals informed by grade level standards, assessment data, and family and school input. 
  • Sessions have a consistent structure with space for relationship-building, independent practice time, and formative assessment.
  • If Delivery Mode is Blended: High-quality research-based software is used to accompany session facilitation. 
  • If Delivery Mode is Blended: Adaptive software provides tutors with concise, actionable data that informs future sessions.
  • If Delivery Mode is Blended: Tutors and teachers can select content for student practice sessions.
  • If Student-Tutor Ratio is Small Groups: Data are used to form purposeful, flexible small groups based on content needs.

Implementation Tools

(Click on the links below or visit the pages on the lefthand navigation for more information.)

Aligning Tutoring Curriculum to School Curriculum Personalizing a Tutoring Session

Accessibility Checklist Tips for Creating Data-Informed Student Groups

Choosing and Using Blended Learning Software


Key Insights

Tutors should have a comprehensive curriculum to follow. Any tutor, even a substitute or a tutor on their first day in the role, should be able to pick up a session plan and lead that session effectively.

  • While some programs may choose to develop their own curriculum, it is not necessary to start from scratch. Programs can adopt pre-created, standards-aligned, rigorous instructional materials (or even entire curricula) for tutors to adapt to fit their students’ needs.
  • You still can start from scratch. However, if you do, you need to finish designing the entire curriculum before the first tutoring session starts. Don’t try to build a plane while it’s flying.
  • Tutors’ planning time should be spent on optimizing implementation, selecting examples, and building deep knowledge of how to teach them, not on creating resources themselves.

Tutoring is most effective when the curriculum complements students’ classroom curriculum.

  • If classroom materials are strong, your program should leverage these materials to plan session content. This alignment ensures that tutors are reinforcing the academic language and models of the classroom to support student learning.You may still opt to use a different curriculum than the classrooms your program serves. Regardless of the materials, tutors will want to focus on addressing students’ underlying needs, not keeping pace with the classroom work. However, the curriculum and materials that tutors use should align with the relevant standards, and you should sequence sessions to support the work students do in their classrooms. 

Every tutoring session should have a clear, specific learning goal.

  • Both the tutor and the student should be able to articulate the goal at every point in the session, and both should be able to evaluate whether they have reached it by the end.
  • Narrowing the focus of a session to a specific subtopic (e.g., decoding skills within literacy, or sourcing skills within writing) is an effective way to build in a steady stream of small victories that boost student (and tutor) morale and improve outcomes.

The most effective sessions are personalized to meet an individual student’s needs.

  • Student productivity and growth increase if the tutor can identify the missing or incomplete skills that are holding a student back and focus remediation and acceleration on those specific skills. 
  • Leverage data from informal and formal assessments to help identify and target specific skill needs for particular students. Ask students themselves what they are struggling with, too! 

Personalized sessions should not focus exclusively on remediation, but also on acceleration.

  • While students may need remediation on missing foundational skills, they will also need support in learning how to apply those skills to new, grade-level concepts to accelerate their learning going forward. Tutors must maintain a balance between the two with each student.

Model-Specific: If your Student-Tutor Ratio is Small Groups: Group students intentionally.

  • Research suggests that grouping students based on their current skill level may be most effective (Zimmer et al., 2010).
  • It also helps to pair English language learners together, particularly if their tutor speaks their native language. When your roster of bilingual tutors is limited, place them strategically!
  • For students within small-group sessions who have larger skill gaps than other group members, tutors should strive to find one-on-one time with them to provide more personalized support.
  • Depending on the length of the tutoring program, students may need to be re-grouped periodically. Students’ relative skill levels change over time, so grouping students based on skill involves regularly reassessing students’ skill levels and re-grouping them accordingly. 

Model Specific: If your Delivery Mode is Blended: Benefits of blended learning.

  • Blended learning offers opportunities for students to practice independently through tailored activities that capitalize on different learning modalities and further individualize instruction.
  • If information about how a student is performing online is provided to tutors on a timely basis and in an actionable format, blended learning provides a wealth of knowledge and granular data to tutors about student learning that can help tutors explicitly target their live instruction. 
  • A blended learning program can reduce the frequency of tutor-student interaction while maintaining rigor, allowing the same number of tutors to serve more students. 
  • Research has shown that supplementing live instruction with effective blended learning software can be as effective as traditional tutoring.