EdCuration Blog: Learning in Action

5 Questions to Ask About Your Tutoring Program

Jun 10, 2022 3:44:35 PM / by EdCuration Staff Writer


Need to Know

A Closer Look

It’s no secret that the pandemic has taken a toll on our students, both emotionally and academically. Sadly, those effects are felt even more by students in high-poverty schools  compared to their more affluent peers. 

As educators and schools seek to close COVID-related academic gaps, one clear solution is tutoring. In fact, more than 40% of school districts and charter school organizations plan to fund tutoring and academic coaching using their federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief. Given that typical class sizes are at least 26 students, classroom teachers could certainly use a helping hand supporting their most struggling learners. However, in order for tutoring to be effective, schools should consider the following questions when determining which route to pursue.

Questions to Ask About Your Tutoring Program

1.What qualifications do potential tutors have?

Research shows that tutoring is most effective when conducted by well-trained educators and professional tutors rather than volunteers or peers. Ask for a tutor with expertise in your student’s area of need, along with classroom and teaching experience. For example, Varsity Tutors employs an array of highly qualified tutors, from current and former educators, and tutors with masters’ and doctorate degrees, ensuring that their students get only the best instruction and support.

2.What is the format of typical tutoring sessions?

Tutoring sessions can take a variety of formats. Some students benefit from 1 on 1 support, whereas others thrive in a small group, collaborative setting. Data indicates that pre-K to first grade students are most successful when paired with a tutor 1-on-1, while students in grades 2-12 work well in a tutor-student ratio of 1:3 or 1:4. Being able to tailor session format to a child’s developmental needs is an essential criterion for effective tutoring.

3.What is the cadence of tutoring sessions?

Some schools start with once a week tutoring, which does not yield nearly the same results as high-dosage, more frequent tutoring. Research shows tutoring occurring during school hours on multiple days a week for at least 30 minutes per session (or “high-dosage tutoring”) is most impactful for students. Varsity Tutors boasts impressive results from their high-dosage tutoring – 91% of students achieved mastery and standardized math test scores doubled in one year for students receiving high-dosage math tutoring. High-dosage tutoring also helps build stronger relationships between tutors and students, which can have a strong correlation with tutoring effectiveness.

4. How are individual student needs and learning styles determined and addressed?

Every learner is different. Therefore, tutoring offerings should be tailored to a learner’s preferences. In particular, English language learners or students with learning differences need a tutoring program that specializes in their unique needs. Ask your tutor how they identify and address each child’s learning style. Is there a clear intake process where tutors learn about students? At Varsity Tutors, not only do tutors assess each student’s needs and learning styles, but then that information is used to match the student with one of the 40,000 experts with expertise in their area of need. From there, tutors create an individualized learning plan using adaptive assessment data as the guide in order to optimize academic gains.

5. How do you measure learner progress?

To ensure a tutoring program is successful, there should be a clear plan for measuring progress. Whether that looks like more formal interim assessments, formative assessment, or checks for understanding during a tutoring session, the best programs point to concrete data when communicating a learner’s growth.  


Partnering with Tutors

Conquering academic gaps is no small feat, but educators do not have to do it alone! More and more, the data shows that leveraging high-quality tutoring in schools can be incredibly impactful for student academic success. Are you an educator or school leader looking to tackle pandemic-compounded learning loss head on? Perhaps you just need ongoing instructional support for teachers and personalized support for struggling learners. Check out the many customizable tutoring options from Varsity Tutors and take the first step in getting your students back on track!


Topics: Elementary Education, Secondary Education, Learning Loss, Pilot Programs, Tutoring

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