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Tutoring can be an effective intervention for many students when implemented using evidence-based practices. Although people often think of tutoring as one-on-one help from a private individual outside of a school setting, recent research on effective tutoring programs has focused on school-based programs involving human instruction aimed at supplementing classroom-based education, usually for groups of no more than six students that meet three or more days per week. This definition does not include computer-based supplemental instruction or small-group instruction that replaces grade level instruction.

Best Practices

Evidence-based best practices recently published by the U.S. Department of Education, copied below, include:

Using trained educators as tutors.

  • Tutoring works best when led by teachers, paraprofessionals, teaching candidates, recently retired teachers, or highly trained tutors who receive a stipend (e.g., AmeriCorps members) and when time for planning and collaboration is provided with the classroom teachers.

Wherever possible, conducting tutoring during the school day.

  • Tutoring programs that take place during the school day appear to have the largest effects. Afterschool tutoring programs have also been shown to have positive, although smaller, effects.

Providing high dosage tutoring each week.

  • For example, programs that included frequently (e.g. daily or at least three sessions per week) of at least 30-50 minutes work best. The youngest students (e.g., early childhood through 1st grade) benefit from increased weekly sessions.

Aligning with an evidence-based core curriculum or use an evidence-based program and practices.

  • Take specific actions to support student learning, including using quizzing, asking deep explanatory questions, spacing learning over time, incorporating worked example solutions with problem-solving exercises, connecting and integrating abstract and concrete representations of concepts, and combining graphical representations — like figures and graphs — with verbal descriptions.

Emphasizing attendance and focused work time during out-of-school tutoring.

  • Experts have suggested that after school tutoring programs may have shown smaller effects than in-school programs because less tutoring occurs. However, out-of-school time programs can be effective. To promote the best results, ensure these programs provide high-dosage tutoring.