Public education is at an inflection point in the campaign for learning recovery. The average eighth grader is an entire school year behind, according to national data, and students in underserved communities continue to face the biggest setbacks in the wake of COVID. Many students have regressed since 2021, even after returning to fully in-person learning, and studies show that pre-pandemic opportunity and achievement gaps have only been exacerbated.

In the first year of the pandemic, policymakers confronted an unprecedented national education crisis with an historic infusion of funding. Now, with those dollars set to expire and a crisis that may be deepening, I worry about the temptation to throw our hands up and say, “Oh well, we tried our best; it was just too hard.” And I worry that distractions — including divisive ideological debates — are diverting focus from students’ real and urgent needs. That must not happen. Instead, America must recommit to a learning recovery moonshot.

High-dosage tutoring is one of the most powerful tools available to help kids recover missed learning. While many schools have launched tutoring initiatives, only 1 in 10 students gets the dosage — the duration and consistency — required to see the learning gains that research has shown is possible. Barriers to implementation continue to limit expansion and impact, risking premature declarations that this personalized learning approach simply doesn’t work.

In reality, schools have yet to implement high-dosage tutoring effectively enough to credibly measure outcomes at scale.

Here’s are some critical points for state and district leaders and policymakers:

  • Funding: As ESSER funding sunsets, policymakers must identify long-term funding streams that support tutoring. This includes reallocating other federal resources, as well as appropriating state and local funding for high-dosage tutoring and other evidence-based strategies to accelerate student learning.
  • Integration: State and district leaders need to help schools make high-dosage tutoring a standard daily feature for students who are furthest behind. Aligning high-dosage tutoring with high-quality instructional materials and connecting it to current guidance on multi-tiered support systems will allow schools to prioritize this proven intervention. State agencies should lead in developing implementation tools and vetting tutoring programs/providers that are evidence-based, classroom-ready and scalable.
  • Accountability: Schools need help getting students the 50 hours of tutoring that can recover the average four-month learning loss in a single school year. Policymakers must drive the creation of better data infrastructure for reporting and transparency around student attendance and dosage for tutoring. Districts and states can also leverage outcomes-based contracts for mutual accountability between schools and providers for implementation and results.

Read the full article about high dosage tutoring by Nakia Towns at The 74.