Launching ProvenTutoring

Today, my colleagues and I are launching www.ProvenTutoring.org. The purpose of this website is to help make certain that the opportunities made available by the American Rescue Plan and other funding actually have their intended impact on the school success of America’s children.

Websites are launched every day. Why is this one special? ProvenTutoring.org introduces the ProvenTutoring Coalition, a collaboration among 14 established tutoring programs, each of which has strong evidence of its effectiveness. Together, we are capable of disseminating proven tutoring on an unprecedented scale. Collectively, our goal is to serve 100,000 tutors throughout the U.S. with top-quality materials, software, and professional development. These 100,000 tutors, some working one-to-one and some one-to-small group (up to one to five), should be able to provide proven tutoring services to about four million children each year. Each of us has prepared ambitious scale-up plans to accomplish this. We can create the capacity to meet the obvious need. Our website is intended to help districts and schools locate and adopt proven, ready-to-go strategies appropriate to their children’s needs.

What we are doing has never been attempted before in the history of American education. The federal government, along with enlightened state and local governments, is making available substantial resources to combat COVID learning losses, or “unfinished learning.” That kind of thing has happened before. Governments are making recommendations for effective use of the money, more or less based on research. That has happened before. State and local educational leaders are scrambling to figure out how to make wise use of these resources. That has happened before.

But never before has government had available a set of proven, scalable solutions to the educational problems it is trying to solve. Not just general principles, but specific, proven, scalable solutions. If a state or local superintendent calls us, we will show up, and can offer multiple options, each of which is known to be effective at improving student learning.

It has long been known that tutoring is the most effective strategy for accelerating the learning of students struggling in reading and math. Every educator knows this, of course, because when their own children are struggling in school, they get them a tutor. The research just provides evidence to back up common sense. Not all tutoring is effective; it does matter how you do it, which is why it is essential that educators use proven approaches. But “tutoring works” is not big news.

Why, then, is tutoring not universal for students who need it?

  1. Too expensive? Not anymore. At one time tutoring was thought to require a certified teacher and one-to-one. Yet there are now effective programs that use well-trained teaching assistants with college degrees and one-to-small group tutoring, at costs starting at $600 per student per year. And the American Rescue Plan and other funding now make it possible for schools to afford even the most expensive one-to-one programs.
  2. Not available? Not anymore. By training tutors hired locally, quality tutoring programs can operate anywhere. Tutoring should be in-person, if at all possible, but online professional development can make tutoring available anywhere (and tutoring can, of course, be offered online if necessary).
  3. Nothing succeeds at scale in education innovation? Not anymore. It is true that educational innovations that succeed at small scale all too often fail in scale-up. Yet the reason for failure at scale is that to go to scale, programs often have to reduce professional development, materials, and standards of implementation. Yet each member of ProvenTutoring has made a commitment to provide the amount and quality of service they did in the studies that established their effectiveness. Most programs in our coalition have worked in hundreds, some in thousands of schools coast to coast, outside of research.

For Whom Does This Matter?

If you are a parent, teacher, principal, superintendent, board member, or just a member of the public interested in quality education for all children, ProvenTutoring should matter to you. Knowing that American Rescue Plan money is flowing in large part to fund proven programs known to substantially improve learning should make you happy.

If you are concerned about equity in America, ProvenTutoring should matter to you. The students who have suffered most from COVID school closures are disadvantaged and minority students, increasing gaps that already existed. The impact of ProvenTutoring will help in narrow these gaps by moving struggling students toward grade level in reading and math, and this will have a particular benefit for disadvantaged and minority students.

If you are concerned about America’s place in the world economy, ProvenTutoring should matter to you. The mediocre performance of U.S. students on international assessment (like PISA) is mostly due to the number of students scoring at the lowest levels. The U.S. workforce needs to be capable through and through. ProvenTutoring will help ensure that all students reach their full potential, and that will boost our entire economy and society.

If you believe in evidence-based reform in education, then ProvenTutoring should matter to you. It is the first-ever attempt to use proven programs to move the needle at a national scale, to solve a problem of great national importance and interest. If we can make this work, it will do for education what penicillin did for biology: Out of the lab, into policy and practice. Whatever your area of focus in education, preschool to postgraduate, the success of ProvenTutoring should matter to you as a model of how research-to-practice can happen at scale.

Who Are Our Partners?

            Our partners are listed below. Check out ProvenTutoring.org starting next Monday to learn more about them.

Reading
ProgramGradesOrganization
Enhanced Core Reading InstructionK-2U. of Oregon
Experience CorpsK-3AARP
Future ForwardK-2Education Analytics
Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI)K-2Heineman, Fountas & Pinnell
Lindamood-Bell1-3Lindamood-Bell
Reading CorpsK-3Reading & Math, Inc.
Reading Rescue1Benedict Silverman Foundation
Targeted Reading InstructionK-2U. of North Carolina
Tutoring With the Lightning SquadK-3Success for All Foundation
Reading, 3-5/6  
ThemeReads2-5Success for All Foundation
Tutoring With the Lightning Squad3-5Success for All Foundation
Math
ProgramGradesOrganization
Galaxy Math1Fuchs Math
Number Rockets2-3Fuchs Math
Whole Number Foundations (Roots, Fusion)K-1U. of Oregon
Math Corps4-5Reading & Math, Inc.
Fractions Face-Off4Fuchs Math
Pirate Math3Fuchs Math
Math Corps6-8Reading & Math, Inc.
Saga Math9-10Saga

            We are looking forward to working with federal, state, and local leaders, and with everyone with a stake in children’s success, to see that this extraordinary opportunity to make a substantial difference in the school success of millions of children will prevail. Please join us in this enterprise!

Photo credit: NASA

This blog was developed with support from Arnold Ventures. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Arnold Ventures.

Note: If you would like to subscribe to Robert Slavin’s weekly blogs, just send your email address to thebee@bestevidence.org

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