September 21, 2021

With the prevalence of interrupted learning due to the pandemic, a majority of states are making accelerated student learning a priority. One method is high-dosage tutoring, which is providing tutoring to groups of 3–4 students in three or more weekly sessions. Research has found that it can “produce large learning gains for a wide range of students, including those who have fallen behind academically.”1 The Annenberg Center identified evidence-based principles to follow when implementing high-dosage tutoring.

To ensure you are using these principles, and to strengthen your high-dosage tutoring programs, collecting and using data to improve implementation is a vital step, and it can be relatively quick and simple to do.

Researchers at REL Northeast & Islands at EDC helped two school principals in Tiverton, Rhode Island, use data to support their high-dosage tutoring programs. The team of researchers and principals incorporated elements of continuous improvement to use data, including Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles, which are central to continuous improvement.

Plan

We started by articulating a theory of action for the programs and deciding what data to collect and how. A theory of action states the rationale for achieving a goal and serves to drive improvements and data collection.

The principals’ theory of action was that by providing high-dosage tutoring, students would be more engaged in school, which would help improve their academic performance, and they would be ready to enter 9th grade or graduate on time (depending on grade level).

Do

During the program, tutors collected attendance and survey data, which gave the principals information about who was attending and why, what students liked about the program, and what could be improved. This data was enough to provide usable info but not so much as to be a burden to collect and review.

Study

Once we had data, we met as a group to reflect on what we saw, such as changes in attendance over time, what was working well (peer interaction, more time to ask questions), and opportunities for improvement (adding breaks, adjusting the curriculum). We also examined whether the data supported the theory of action and if changes were needed.

Act

Based upon the data, the principals made adjustments to the program, shared relevant data with the tutors and students, and began another round of data collection. Altogether, we reviewed data twice over a five-week tutoring program.

Collecting data about their high-dosage tutoring programs helped the principals see what was working well (the individual attention small groups afforded) and identify simple improvements (snacks for students and more feedback for tutors). 

Taking the time to collect and use data earns rewards many times over. Have you used high-dosage tutoring? Please share your experiences with us.

If you’d like more information on high-dosage tutoring, please join us for our webinar: October 4, 3–4 p.m.

Diana Wogan is a project director at EDC with expertise in social and emotional learning, policy analysis, and school improvement. She works with educators in schools, districts, and state education agencies to improve outcomes for students.

 


1Robinson, C. D., Kraft, M. A., & Loeb, S. (2021, February). Accelerating student learning with high-dosage tutoring. EdResearch for Recovery. 

Capacity Building for Individuals, Organizations, and Systems
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