School districts around the country have rolled out tutoring programs at a feverish pace with the help of federal relief funds, intent on helping struggling students get back on track academically after the disruption caused when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down schools.

It’s one thing to know what makes a successful tutoring program, and quite another to actually manage one.

So says the Center for Education Market Dynamics, a nonprofit that provides information to school district leaders about products and services and that recently released a collection of case studies on tutoring programs.

Lora Kaiser, the organization's executive director, says the lessons shared in the report by district leaders are meant to provide insight at a time when the need — and funding — for high-dosage tutoring are both exceptionally high.

Educators know that high-dosage tutoring needs to happen under the right circumstances to be effective, she says, but not every district has those just-right conditions.

“How do you set up and design your communications, staff and school,” Kaiser explains, “in a way that generates not only the most impact but that you can continue to measure, learn from and iterate? That was the goal of the report.”

The organization picked a diverse set of nine districts to study. They range from the massive New York City Public Schools, with more than 1 million students, to the tiny Lenoir City Schools and its 2,500 students in Tennessee.

The districts also varied in the mode of tutoring used (in-person versus online), whether tutors came from inside or outside the district, and when tutoring took place.

The report’s authors say that successful tutoring program leaders were decisive, flexible and evolved their programs along the way.

“Growing and strengthening these programs was not just about adding more tutoring hours,” the report states, “but also about recognizing the need for new processes and tools as programs grow.”

Districts have already spent more than $700 million in federal relief money on tutoring, according to the report, and they're looking for ways to keep those programs running after those emergency funds are gone.

“Tutoring is an effective intervention, period. We know the disparities in student outcomes have existed since before the pandemic,” Kaiser says. “The most important thing [districts] spoke about is having strong systems in place to measure the programs so they can make the case that these programs are worth sustaining.”

Read the full article about effective tutoring by Nadia Tamez-Robledo at EdSurge.