What a year it has been for education! In much of the country, schools were shut down to finish out the 2019-2020 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic that ravaged the world. Some schools were able to go back in-person in August, but many are still utilizing distance learning as they close the 2020-2021 school year. With the hope of summer just around the corner, the question that some parents and school staff members are wondering is how the pandemic has affected what students have learned in the past year.
Per Engzell and colleagues at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences write, “In an effort to curb its spread, governments around the world have moved to suspend face-to-face teaching in schools, affecting some 95% of the world’s student population—the largest disruption to education in history.” As the world shut down, teachers scrambled to find ways to keep their students learning and engaged from a distance. Every teacher was frantically searching for Virtual educational resources and distance learning resources. As students came back to classrooms or as teachers met with their new groups of students, they were further behind academically and socially than previous years. According to Horace Mann, “Nearly all — more than 97% — of educators reported seeing some learning loss in their students over the past year when compared with children in previous years, and a majority, or 57%, estimated their students are behind by more than three months in their social-emotional progress.” In addition to this, distance learning has been less beneficial for students who do not have access to technology at home. So with some students lacking access to their teachers and lessons and other students just missing out on the in-person learning aspect, many students are behind.
Teachers and most parents want students in school because that is where the best learning takes place. The question now becomes “How do we close the learning gap?” Tutoring is a great solution to combating COVID learning loss. This personalized option is a great way for students to be able to learn at their own pace and hopefully close the learning gap.
Tutoring as Part of the School Day
While we can agree that tutoring improves a student's academic success, the true question deals more with timing. When will students be tutored? Research from the Annenberg Institute at Brown University shows that tutoring programs that are part of the school day get better results. One reason tutoring is more beneficial as part of the school day is because this type of tutoring focuses on every student. The Annenberg Institute even suggests that it can “foster a collective commitment” to tutoring since all students would receive tutoring regardless of academic standing. It is important for students’ social-emotional learning to see everyone on the same level and learning even if they are learning different things.
Further research from the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) provides other benefits of not only tutoring as part of the school day, but also tutoring by teachers and paraprofessionals. Their research shows that teacher-led tutoring is more effective. This is because teachers are already aware of their students' academic achievements and what students need to learn or relearn. While teachers and paraprofessionals should be paid adequately for their time, they can create specific lessons for small groups or individual tutoring sessions that provide extra instructional time.
Using school hours to provide tutoring or extending the school day to include tutoring provides less distraction for students. It also guarantees that the tutoring is taking place with effective teachers and paraprofessionals.
Tutoring benefits are incredible! It can help close learning gaps from the pandemic as well as accelerate learning in many other ways. Do you or your school utilize tutoring as an option? What are your thoughts on adding tutoring as a standard part of the school day? Join the conversation by leaving us a comment below!
Whether tutoring takes place in-person or via a virtual platform, the benefits cannot be denied. The list of life skills that can be learned with tutoring extend beyond a child’s academic success and add important life skills and confidence that all parents and teachers want to see for students.
Whether a student is behind academically or needs to be pushed ahead, tutoring can benefit all students. Tutoring allows students to get one-on-one attention from an educator so that their individual academic needs can be met. Teachers and tutors can create individual lessons and assessments to show a student their own growth. This provides students with the knowledge and confidence that someone is looking out for their personal interests and not just the class as a whole. Even students who are at the top of their class will be able to see growth even though it may not be a significant amount. They can increase their vocabulary and improve study habits for future use. According to the Annenberg Institute of Brown University, “Schoolwide programs do not stigmatize tutees as low-performing students in need of remediation.” Every student will be able to receive tutoring at their own level. This is especially crucial with the COVID learning loss as all students have been affected.
Students who need an extra boost in academics will be able to find that personalized lessons improve their test scores, but it will also help them learn some problem-solving skills. Knowing that a teacher or tutor has created a lesson specifically for each student will help them understand the value of figuring out how to solve the problem or answer the question. When a student encounters a problem or question that they are struggling with, they will be able to take a deep breath and think about how to overcome the obstacle as opposed to just picking an answer and moving on in a homework assignment or test.
Many students face anxiety of finishing an assignment on time or before other students. Student-paced tutoring helps take away some of the anxiety and pressure of having to learn at everyone else’s pace, including the teacher’s pace. This in particular benefits students because then they will figure out their own learning styles as well as build their own study habits.
Motivation and Confidence
When students are able to figure out their own learning styles and then see success in their grades, they will gain confidence. Confidence in the results they see will further motivate students to keep pursuing their goals, both academically and personally. Building motivation and confidence in what they can learn with a tutor’s assistance and on their own will add to their work ethic as they leave high school behind after graduation. We want to help students become more independent and confident in their own skills as a person so they can achieve their goals.