Millions of students across the United States spent their summers in learning and enrichment programs, many of which employed intensive tutoring designed to bring math and reading scores up to grade level.

These efforts can be important and life-changing, yet research finds that increased learning time alone will not be enough to recover from the pandemic’s devastating effects on learning.

Recent data out of the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University demonstrates that simply offering more instruction for students is insufficient, in part because it fails to account for each student’s pace of learning. Remarkably, researchers have determined that even an extra five years of schooling would still leave a quarter of students behind on 12th grade math and reading benchmarks. Despite this evidence, many of our COVID-19 recovery dollars are being spent on interventions that emphasize high-dosage tutoring rather than other potential strategies.

As lead researcher at Breakthrough Collaborative, a national nonprofit building supportive out-of-school-time learning communities to improve educational equity, I recently had the opportunity to closely study an after-school math tutoring program our organization piloted during the 2021-22 school year.

That experience showed me that high-dosage tutoring can't be the only tool we offer students after the disruptions of COVID-19. A successful approach must engage social-emotional learning (SEL), adapt to actual, real-world student needs, and incorporate community support, so that the burdens don't fall exclusively on students and teachers.

So — what does that look like?

  • We must go beyond dosage-dependent tutoring programs, and center the social and emotional needs of students. 
  • Any program that is in service to students must respond to their ongoing and changing needs. 
  • Our schools cannot and should not do this work alone.
  • Support can’t stop after graduation. 

Read the full article about student recovery by Jeehye Shim Deogracias at EdSurge.