FutureEd Study Identifies 6 Factors of Successful High-Dosage Tutoring

In the wake of at least 80% of school districts and charter schools starting post-pandemic tutoring, independent analysis organization FutureEd has released a study addressing the challenge of making such tutoring high-quality, or as they call it, "high dosage."

The study identifies "high-dosage" tutoring as "programs with four or fewer students working with the same tutor for at least 30 minutes during the school day, three times a week for at least several months."

The study report, "Learning Curve: Lessons from the Tutoring Revolution in Public Education," examines three school systems that met the challenge successfully. It also discusses the role of AI in tutoring and how to fund successful tutoring programs.

The study was researched and written by FutureEd policy director Liz Cohen, in partnership with Stanford University's National Student Support Accelerator.

The three school systems were:

  • Five schools in the Baton Rouge region that used Teach for America's Ignite virtual tutoring model: In spring 2023, one school saw a 56% increase in primary school literacy assessment proficiency;
  • West Texas' Ector County Independent School District, which contracted with tutoring vendors: Half the students who scored below grade level in the prior year scored at grade level or higher after 20 hours of tutoring; and
  • New York City's Great Oaks Charter School, which utilized AmeriCorps volunteers to work full time in the school as tutors, mentors, and teacher assistants: Students who started at or below the 25th percentile in math ended in the 43rd percentile on average that same year, and those at or above grade level in math (13%) ended at 22% from one year to the next.

The report also cited research showing that AI tutoring, alternating with human tutoring, can be successful if the computer-assisted tutoring is high quality and follows carefully designed policies and practices. According to Jens Ludwig, an economist at the University of Chicago, the tutoring design should also take into account student differences in how much human versus computer tutoring is beneficial, and the point at which "learning gains start to decline."

The report's key findings note several success factors of high-dosage tutoring:

  • Popularity and effectiveness in measuring student improvement;
  • The ability to be somewhat flexible, but also have "non-negotiables" that make it work;
  • Autonomy of educators to choose what works for their schools;
  • Dedicated and supportive program leadership;
  • Strong tutor-student relationships; and
  • Increased federal funding streams beyond Title I and other existing programs.

Visit FutureEd's report page to read and download a copy of the study's detailed examination and findings.

About the Author

Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.