Tutoring in Today’s Schools

By Guest Contributor Lisa Wolfe

Tutoring is a concept that dates back to the Ancient Greeks in 400 B.C., when Socrates tutored his famous student Plato. Today this instructional support strategy has taken center stage as a tool to help educators and parents close the learning gaps that widened during the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. And tutoring is a big business! The global K-12 online tutoring market reached $4.57 billion in 2022, and it is estimated it will grow to nearly $11 billion by 2028.1

There are several different models of tutoring. In some cases, students go to learning centers where they are tutored in small groups after school or on weekends. In one-on-one tutoring, an instructor works directly with an individual learner either face-to-face or online. And now there are also those who see the potential for another model, where chatbot tutors provide academic support.2

The model that may have the most promising research foundation today is high-dosage, high-impact tutoring.3 High-dosage tutoring is defined as one-on-one tutoring or tutoring in very small groups at least three times a week. High-impact tutoring responds to individual needs and complements students’ existing curriculum.

High-dosage, high-impact tutoring can be costly to implement, but with schools’ current access to federal ESSER COVID relief funds, that hurdle may not be as high for them right now. More than 40% of school districts and charter school organizations are using those funds for tutoring according to FutureEd.4 There are, however, other challenges to implementing this instructional improvement strategy.

The National Student Support Accelerator (NSSA) at Stanford University studies the ways that high-impact tutoring can benefit students. NSSA found six keys barriers that schools face with this model:

Tutoring Session
  1. Recruiting educators to do the tutoring.
  1. Training and supervising educator-tutors and providing them with instructional resources.
  1. Providing tutors with the data they need to target tutoring sessions.
  1. Finding time in the school day to schedule tutoring.
  1. Ensuring that students attend their tutoring session.
  1. Building buy-in across a broad range of stakeholders—principals, teachers, parents.5

While your company’s products may not provide direct support for tutoring, there are ways that you can help schools implement this important instructional intervention. Consider:

  • Resources to support tutors. You may already have instructional resources that would be perfect for tutors to use when working with students, or you could easily develop materials from existing content. Then compile them into an online tutoring support kit and reach out to your customers with a campaign to let them know this new set of resources exists to support their tutors.
  • Data to support targeting. Teachers at a school using your instructional program are likely very familiar with its data reporting platform, but a teacher who has been hired as a tutor might need some quick training. Think about creating a short online video that points out the tools that would be most helpful to someone helping students close learning gaps and/or a written tip sheet that shows how to quickly and easily access the data they need to target instruction.
  • Incentives for students to participate in their tutoring sessions. While you probably can’t help schools create more time in the school day, you might be able to help them encourage students to attend the tutoring sessions. Sometimes a small reward is all it takes to motivate any of us, and schools might be grateful if you offered them some tchotchkes to use to encourage students to participate in tutoring. You might have some cool giveaways left from a trade show last year that any third grader would love, or you can give out custom-made pencils or pens with a motivating message.

You likely have other creative ideas to help schools support their tutoring programs. We’d love to help you develop campaigns to share them with educators. Contact us!

Lisa Wolfe is the president of L. Wolfe Communications. Founded in April 2000, L. Wolfe Communications offers its clients a network of senior, experienced public relations executives with a variety of complementary experience and expertise in public relations and communications for the education and library markets.


1K-12 Online Tutoring Market by Type

2New A.I. Chatbot Tutors Could Upend Student Learning

3Research Overview

4An Analysis of Local School Districts’ Ambitious Post-Covid Tutoring Plans

5Challenges and Solutions to Implementing Tutoring at Scale