Tutoring!

If you invest in the silver bullet market there is a buy opportunity coming in tutoring.  Not just any tutoring, high-dosage tutoring. The word itself sounds exciting – high-dosage!

It’s hard to miss a convergence around the idea that high-dosage tutoring is “the thing.” The research does favor it, Buzzy Kettleman lays out a good case here. (And the rich do it, which in 2020 makes it at once desirable and very bad).

Yet here is how these things tend to go: New idea – or not new but reintroduced idea – widely implemented through a funding and think piece gold rush. And widely implemented in uneven ways with little fidelity to the research because of the haste and good intentions coupled with lack of capacity around the field.

End result, good idea gets discredited because, on average, it shows little if any impact. You see this around the ed tech sector, class size, teacher evaluations, some reading initiatives, charter schools, teacher evaluation, are just some of the examples.

What all those ideas have in common with tutoring is a lot of promise. That’s all the more reason to be intentional, focus on equity, and not, to mix one more metaphor, spread everything around like peanut butter.

BTW – if questions about research and efficacy interest you here are two roles to consider – this senior associate partner gig at Bellwether and this ED one at Knowledge Alliance.

2 thoughts on “Tutoring!

  1. Natalie Wexler

    Tutoring, done well, is a good idea for SOME things (decoding skills, math) but maybe not for others–like reading comprehension, where it inevitably gets reduced to “skills” and strategies, which are of limited utility.

    A recent meta-analysis of tutoring studies found that the benefits in reading decline as the grade levels go up. That’s probably because as students get older, the texts they’re expected to read assume more background knowledge–and tutoring in “skills” and strategies won’t help if you don’t have enough knowledge to make sense of the text.

    What’s more, a lot of tutoring programs in the earlier grades pull kids from class during what little time is devoted to relatively content-rich subjects like social studies–depriving them of the chance to acquire knowledge that COULD boost their reading comprehension down the road. So tutoring at lower grades may look like it’s working, but it might only be planting the seeds of future failure.

    More on this in a post I did for Forbes:

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/nataliewexler/2020/10/12/why-tutoring-could-just-make-covid-related-learning-loss-worse/#2c36c5ed297d

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