Pandemic-related disruptions to schooling are wreaking havoc on student learning. If estimates are anywhere near correct, our nation is facing a catastrophe. Depending on the measure of learning loss used, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development estimates that America’s gross domestic product could lose close to $30 trillion (in net present value) as today’s cohort of COVID-affected students moves through school and into the labor market.

We need a sustained response to mitigate learning loss as soon as possible and into the foreseeable future to ensure the well-being of today’s students and tomorrow’s America.

Unfortunately, the pandemic’s effect on schools thus far has outpaced almost every tool we have for reversing learning loss. There is, however, an emerging consensus around at least one strategy that may provide our best chance to meet these COVID-related challenges: tutoring.

J-PAL North America, a research center focused on reducing poverty, recently released a meta-analysis of close to 100 studies of tutoring in literacy and mathematics and found that tutoring programs consistently produced large improvements in learning outcomes for students — with effects that eclipse those of most other educational programs.

We have an opportunity to leverage this evidence to craft a tutoring-based response to the nation’s massive COVID learning losses. Here are some broad principles we believe must be deployed to get the most out of any tutoring initiative.

  • Organize around subjects and grade level combinations
  • Use diagnostic assessments
  • Adopt strategies that serve students from diverse backgrounds
  • Avoid reinventing the wheel
  • Use digital learning platforms
  • Treat any rapid expansion of tutoring as an experiment

Read the full article about learning losses by Kimberly Dadisman at The 74.