Skip links

7 Tips for Effective Tutoring That Accelerate Student Learning

The most recent set of NAEP scores, also known as the “Nation’s Report Card” for measuring student achievement in K-12 across the US, tell a story of declining achievement in both math and reading for US students. Specifically:

  • The average fourth-grade math score decreased by five points and was lower than all previous assessment years going back to 2005
  • The average eighth-grade math score decreased by eight points and was lower than all previous assessment years going back to 2003
  • The fourth-grade and eighth-grade reading score decreased by three points
  • Fourth-grade reading scores hadn’t been this low since 2005 and eighth-grade scores hadn’t been this low since 1998

In response, schools and districts are on the hunt for cost-effective, high-impact solutions that close learning gaps and ensure all students receive an equitable education. Among the most effective solutions is tutoring, and high-dosage tutoring, at that. Read on for information that speaks to the power of high-dosage tutoring, the qualities of an effective high-dosage tutoring program, and how your school or district can adopt this proven solution on your path to learning acceleration.

Why High-Dosage Tutoring?

Effective tutoring is more important than ever before, and countless proof points reveal why. A 2020 meta-analysis of 96 studies found that tutoring programs have consistently large, positive impacts on students, making it one of the most agreed-upon tools available to today’s educators.  The education field is notoriously divided on what works for students, but this widespread analysis demonstrates consistent consensus that tutoring has the power to be a transformational learning solution, particularly with so many struggling students coming out of the pandemic.

However, tutoring in name alone is not enough to move the student achievement needle. One meta-analysis found that high-dosage tutoring was 15 times more effective in reading and 20 times more effective in math than low-dosage tutoring. Additionally, traditional tutoring models often exclude certain socio-economic groups and can exacerbate already pervasive academic inequities. Well-meaning schools and districts tend to implement more informal and inconsistent tutoring, typically led by inexperienced volunteers, that lack the intensity and quality required to noticeably impact student achievement. Brainfuse provides proven high-dosage tutoring to ensure effectiveness and equity for all learners. But, what is high-dosage tutoring and how is it different from other tutoring models?

Qualities of effective high-dosage tutoring:

  • Occurs one-to-one or in very small groups (maximum 4 students) 
  • Occurs on a daily or almost daily basis (at least 3 sessions per week) between 30-60 minutes per session
  • Is sustained and happens during the school day
  • Is NOT remedial work – high-dosage tutoring time focuses on specific student needs, balancing building prerequisite knowledge and skills while integrating grade-level content
  • Is implemented by knowledgeable, experienced educators
  • Uses data and ongoing informal assessment to effectively tailor instruction to individual students
  • Is best implemented by a consistent tutor to promote relationship-building and a deeper understanding of student learning needs
  • Uses high-quality instructional materials aligned with classroom content

Centering Educational Equity with Tutoring

Wide-scale adoption and implementation are key in ensuring that tutoring initiatives are equity-centered. Equitable implementation targets all students in a grade-level, school, or district, leading to broader organizational commitment and greater student reach. Too often, students are invited to opt-in to educational resources and programs, leading to low engagement. Research shows that struggling and marginalized students are less likely to take advantage of optional resources, consequently leading to increased educational disparities. To combat this, Brainfuse partners with your team, whether at the school or district-level, to customize your program and ensure successful wide-scale implementation that helps the most vulnerable students get the support they need. 
Further, some students simply need more support, so pairing high-dosage tutoring with an on-demand tutoring option is ideal to ensure all needs are met. Brainfuse offers on-demand tutoring that is available 24/7 so students can access support wherever and whenever they need it, helping to fill gaps immediately before students veer further from mastery. The Brainfuse online classroom includes robust freehand drawing tools, text editing, instant messaging, a graphic calculator, file sharing, copy/paste, screen sharing, and two-way audio or video so your students experience best-in-class learning. With over 4,000 Brainfuse tutors available, students wait less than 20 seconds before getting essential tutoring support.

7 Tips for Successful Tutoring Implementation

With over 20 years of experience in the tutoring industry, we’ve noticed trends and identified best practices in implementing effective tutoring. To make your tutoring program the best it can be, follow these tips:
  1. Implement a mix of High-Dosage and On-Demand to maximize impact.  Depending on district or school objectives, it is useful to consider a part of your effort focused on increasing equity and really making an impact for challenging student groups – while also providing universal access to accommodate all stakeholders.  
  2. Opt for high-dosage tutoring. We strongly recommend sessions occur at least 3 times per week for at least 30 minutes each.  For tier 2 intervention, this can be done effectively with groups of 2-4 students.  For tier 3, a 1-to-1 approach is recommended.
  3. Tutor during the school day. Research points to the increased effectiveness of during-school tutoring. Our most successful school and district partners have a devoted tutoring block in their daily schedule. Alternatively, you can provide high-dosage tutoring immediately before or after class.
  4. Communicate frequently with parents and students. In order to optimize on-demand adoption, best practice is to communicate weekly to both parents and students to keep them informed of students’ participation and remind them of tutor availability. 
  5. Be data-driven. Start with students taking a state-aligned skills assessment (or educators can import existing internal assessment results) to identify areas of need. From there, create customized learning plans to inform tutoring sessions and continually monitor student progress.  Brainfuse BoostHDT directly incorporates goal setting and regular assessment.
  6. Keep tutor-student groupings consistent. Consistent pairings and groupings allow students and tutors to form meaningful relationships, leading to higher student engagement and achievement. 
  7. Gather student feedback. Ask students about their tutoring experience and what could make it better. At the end of each Brainfuse tutoring session, students submit post-session surveys and responses from between 2009 and 2022 indicate a 98% student satisfaction rate!

Brainfuse: The Top Tutoring Solution

Brainfuse is one of the only nationally-recognized tutoring providers to demonstrate effectiveness in multiple ESSA Tier 1 studies. In case you’re unfamiliar, an ESSA Tier 1 designation comes from the Department of Education and is the highest standard for research and evidence-based interventions. Additionally, the OMNI Institute prepared a report for the Colorado Department of Education on tutoring providers’ effectiveness in raising standardized test scores, and Brainfuse ranked first in reading and math. 
Unlike other tutoring providers, Brainfuse provides the following:
  • Mostly US-based tutors with four-year degrees and prior teaching or tutoring experience
  • The ability to interact with pencil and paper – our snap-n-send feature allows tutors and students to share handwritten work
  • High student engagement through consistent tutoring pairings and frequent student feedback 
  • Targeted high-dosage and on-demand options
  • Live monitoring – real-time monitors or Program Success Managers review sessions for completeness and pedagogical effectiveness
  • Mobile accessibility – available on Android and iOS
  • Intentional tutor-student matching using specific algorithms that support student success
  • Ease of accessibility for students with disability or English Language Learners
  • Early identification of struggling students – tutors send schools an instant notifications after each session if they believe a student or session requires additional attention
Want to learn more? Get in touch with us and let’s accelerate your students’ learning recovery together!