We’re Still Climbing: A Region 17 Dispatch from the ESEA Conference

student and teacher

The 2024 National Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Conference was held February 7–10, 2024 in Portland, Oregon. The conference’s throughline message was there is still much work to be done to get students back to—and beyond—pre-pandemic achievement levels.

A key student improvement strategy discussed across conference strands was the implementation of high-dosage tutoring—which includes substantial tutoring time, strong relationships, and close monitoring of student progress. The U.S Department of Education, through the Raise the Bar initiative, recently identified high-dosage tutoring as a specific area in which states, districts, and schools should redouble their efforts over the remainder of this school year to increase students’ academic success. Research supports this evidence-based intervention as an effective strategy, and now that states and subgrantees have been given an additional 14 months to use American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act funds, the funding to initiate or continue high-dosage tutoring programs is more likely to be in place.

States have relied heavily on high-dosage tutoring as an intervention to mitigate pandemic learning loss in the last few years, presenting a unique opportunity to learn about what works and what doesn’t. As states move forward it’s essential to ensure they receive concise and accurate information on the subject. Despite the existence of guidance and funding, those looking to implement high-dosage tutoring programs will need to ensure what they do aligns with best practices.

In an effort to provide such information, Region 17—along with Region 14, the National Comprehensive Center, and the state of Arkansas—gave a presentation at the ESEA Conference focused on key learnings about high-dosage tutoring from the period of recovery from the pandemic.

1. Tutoring should be provided at least four times a week for at least 30 minutes per session.

2. Conditions for tutoring must be established by ensuring:

  • Buy-in from teachers and staff members.
  • Space, technology, and staffing are sufficient for implementation.
  • Alignment with student needs and core instruction.

3. Sufficient tutoring dosage can be provided by:

  • Having consistent week-to-week schedules.
  • Avoiding conflicts at the beginning and end of the school day.
  • Accounting for school-year activities and interruptions.
  • Protecting the time of school staff members who serve as tutors.
  • Collecting and tracking real-time data on attendance and dosage.

4. Enough tutors must be recruited and selected. To do so, states should:

  • Expand the networks where tutors are identified to include community based organizations, institutions of higher education, and professional teacher organizations who may be connected to part-time or retired educators.
  • Develop a process to screen and assess many applicants efficiently and effectively.
  • Intentionally recruit racially and ethnically diverse tutors.

As part of the presentation, Tracie Jones of the Arkansas Department of Education shared an overview of the Arkansas Tutoring Corps. This program focuses on identifying and training tutors who could provide high-dosage tutoring in K–8 literacy and math and also support high school math and literacy as needed. The tutoring corps was funded by ARP and has trained 1,121 tutors as of January 2024. Dr. Jones reported that systems to collect data on the corps’ impact were not fully established because of the rush to respond to the pandemic. As a result, the state does not have a valid measure of how the corps has impacted student learning. Arkansas is now working to build these data collection systems in hopes to be able to accurately report on student outcomes.

Tutoring is a key strategy for states as they continue to support students in their journey toward full achievement after the pandemic. For additional information, review this Comprehensive Center guide or contact the Region 17 Comprehensive Center.

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