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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What requirements do programs have to meet to qualify as members of ProvenTutoring.org?
a. Tutoring programs must be focused on increasing the achievement of students who are struggling in reading or math.
b. Tutoring programs must use tutors who are college graduates, but may or may not have teaching certificates. There are other programs that require certified teachers, but at present, there is a national teacher shortage, so such programs are generally not practical. Research has found that teaching assistants with college degrees are as effective as tutors with teaching certificates.
c. 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 the next FAQ.
d. Proven tutoring programs’ leaders must be willing to join with their peers in this joint effort, to support collective efforts to promote 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.