Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • What is the purpose of the website?

    ProvenTutoring.org is designed to provide comparable information on programs proven effective in rigorous studies. Each program is described in a similar way in a common template to make it easy to compare program features and evidence. The website links to program websites for users who want more detailed information.

  • Who developed and manages this website?

    Staff at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Research and Reform in Education developed and manage this site, in collaboration with the Success for All Foundation. Information and video content are supplied by program providers.

  • How can I find out about programs that have been successful with students or schools like mine?

    Users can select subjects and grade levels to explore. Each program page shows populations involved in validating research.

  • Why do I not see a program I know about in this website?

    This website only focuses on programs proven effective in research. It also is restricted to programs that do not require hiring certified teachers as tutors (impractical in today’s teacher shortage). For a broader set of all tutoring and non-tutoring programs, go to www.evidenceforessa.org and enter the name of any program you seek in the search bar on the Home Page.

  • How can schools choose among proven tutoring programs?

    We would suggest that school leaders weigh several factors in deciding which proven tutoring programs to select:

    a. Effect size: Go for the big numbers. If you are comparing equally rigorous evaluations, effect size is a meaningful indicator of the amount of gain students are likely to make in comparison to an untreated control group, assuming implementation is of high quality. All of the studies validating programs in ProvenTutoring.Org used similar, rigorous methods, so effect sizes are a good indicator of impact.

    b. Tutor to student ratio: Reach more students. Some of the ProvenTutoring.Org programs tutor students one to one, others in small groups of up to one to four. This number indicates how many students a tutor can reach. For example, a tutor using a program designed to teach four students at a time can tutor 36 students a day in nine 30-minute sessions. A tutor using a one-to-one model can teach nine students in nine sessions, of course. So if two programs have similar effect sizes but one can teach twice or four times the number of students, you may wish to choose the one that extends the benefits of tutoring to more students.

    c. Was the program evaluated in schools like yours? Common sense should tell you that a rural school should prefer a program evaluated in rural schools, and an urban school should prefer evaluations in urban settings. If there are no evaluations in schools like yours, you might ask program leaders for examples of use of the program in schools like yours, perhaps even nearby.

    d. Visit a program’s website, view videos of the program in action, or if possible, visit a school using a program nearby. Ask questions of program staff and current users. But check the program data first, to avoid selecting a program that looks great, but has never been found to make much of a difference.

  • What requirements do programs have to meet to qualify as members of ProvenTutoring?
    • Tutoring programs must be focused on increasing the achievement of students who are struggling in reading or math.
    • Tutoring programs must have been evaluated in studies that meet the evidence standards of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) at the Strong, Moderate, or Promising levels. These are described in another  FAQ.
    • Tutoring programs must use paid tutors with college degrees or equivalent. There are other programs that require certified teachers, but at present, there is a national teacher shortage. Research has found that teaching assistants with college degrees are as effective as tutors with teaching certificates.
    • Tutoring providers must demonstrate the following:
      • Commitment to and capacity for delivering programs at scale;
      • Commitment to implementing a program as it was evaluated (i.e., with the same level of training, coaching, and monitoring for tutors); and
      • Commitment to joining with their peers to promote the use of proven programs, and to maintain high standards of implementation to maximize achievement outcomes of their programs.
  • What were the criteria used to determine that tutoring programs were “proven”?

    In order to be considered “proven,” programs had to have at least one study that met the ESSA Strong, Moderate, or Promising standards of evidence, and had a significant and substantial positive outcome on achievement outcomes (usually, an effect size of at least +0.20). Specific standards were as follows:

    a. Studies had to compare students who received tutoring to a similar control group of students who did not receive tutoring. Assignment to the tutoring or control conditions could be random or matched in advance, but in practice, all but one accepted study used randomized assignment.

    b. Students had to be pre- and post-tested on valid achievement measures. Pretest measures for the final (analytic) sample had to be similar in tutoring and control groups (within 0.25 standard deviation units). Differential attrition had to be no more than 15%.

    c. Studies had to be at least 12 weeks in duration.

    d. There had to be at least 30 students in each group.

    e. Outcome measures could not be ones created by developers or researchers. Tutors could not test their own students on research measures.

  • How much ESSER funding has been provided through federal COVID-relief Acts?

    The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided $13.2 billion; the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (CRRSA) provided $54.3 billion; and from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) provided $121.9 billion, for a total of $189.5 billion.

  • May funds from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, be used to support tutoring?

    Yes, funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act; the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (CRRSA) and from the American Rescue Plan (ARP), each provide funding for ESSER.  This program provides States and local educational agencies broad flexibility in the use of funds to address the impact of COVID0-19, including the ability to provide tutoring to students. ​Under the ARP Act, as described below,  both SEAs and LEAs must use a portion of the funding they receive to carry out evidence-based strategies for addressing students’ learning loss. Tutoring could well be an important way in which states and districts meet that requirement.

  • Has the U.S. Department of Education released any guidance on the use of ESSER funds for tutoring?

    Yes, on April 9th, the U.S. Department of Education released ED COVID-19 Handbook Volume 2:  Roadmap to Reopening Schools Safely and Meeting All Students’ Needs .  The Handbook devotes a section to “Addressing Lost Instructional Time” through high-quality tutoring:

    One strategy that districts can also use ARP funds for is tutoring. Because ARP funding is available to be spent through September 2024, districts will be able to hire and retain tutors for the critical time when students will most need assistance. Tutoring can be an effective intervention for a wide range of studentsif implemented in particular ways. High dosage tutoring (i.e., tutoring that is provided consistently by well- trained tutors or educators at least three days per week for at least 30 minutes at a time in groups of five or fewer students), led by a certified teacher or a paraprofessional, and conducted during the school day tends to have the largest impact.22 When scheduling tutoring during the school day, schools should do so in a way that ensures students still receive instruction on core content and have opportunities for enrichment. For example, tutoring could take place during study hall or flexible periods, during independent practice portions of a class, or as a complement to instruction in partnership with the classroom teacher.” (p. 18)

    The Handbook also includes the following “Evidence-informed tutoring practices checklist:

  • Does the American Rescue Plan require funds to be reserved for learning loss?

    Yes, under Sec. 2001(e)(1):  Each district “…shall reserve not less than 20 percent of such funds to address learning loss through the implementation of evidence-based interventions, such as summer learning or summer enrichment, extended day, comprehensive afterschool programs, or extended school year programs…”  In In addition, under Sec. 2001(f)(1):  Each State “…shall reserve not less than 5 percent of the total amount of grant funds awarded to the State under this section to carry out, directly or through grants or contracts, activities to address learning loss by supporting the implementation of evidence-based interventions, such as summer learning or summer enrichment, extended day, comprehensive afterschool programs, or extended school year programs…”

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