Our Penicillin/Polio/Covid Moment

The dramatic impact of the pandemic on student learning was clear on October 24th when Dr. Peggy Carr, Commissioner of NCES, detailed the results of The Nation's Report Card at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Charts, graphs, and an insightful narrative depicted widespread declines in reading and mathematics and a significant widening of the achievement gap, with the lowest performing students losing the most ground.

The 2022 Nation’s Report Card offers irrefutable evidence that we need to meet this moment with big things. In a March, 2021 blog, ProvenTutoring co-founder Dr. Slavin described this moment as our “penicillin/polio/Covid moment.” If rigorously researched, scalable programs could make meaningful gains in learning, he believed "this may serve as the example we need to establish that development, research, and dissemination can solve societal problems in education.”

Sharp Declines on

The Nation's Report Card

Average scores in math and reading for both fourth and eighth graders declined significantly.

In 53 states and jurisdictions, and in 26 urban districts, the achievement gap widened among higher- and lower- performing students.

Students experienced the steepest declines in mathematics, with nearly 40 percent of eighth graders performing below the test's Basic achievement level.

“We need evidence-based strategies with science behind them – ones that have been proven to work. And guess what? They’re not all created equal. All of these strategies don’t work equally as well with all students and so we’ve got to match them – the best practices with students that can benefit most from them.”

Dr. Peggy Carr

Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics

Institute of Education Sciences

U.S. Department of Education

To adequately address the magnitude of learning loss, evidence and research will need to play a key role in designing a comprehensive plan for learning recovery. Schools are already harnessing the power of science through partnerships with ProvenTutoring providers that disseminate rigorously-researched tutoring models. In this newsletter, our tutoring providers offer lessons learned that demonstrate how research-proven models are meeting this moment in education, motivating and re-engaging students as well as catching them up.

Lesson One

What is being used for tutoring matters.

For tutoring to move the needle on achievement, there has to be a well-structured, high-dosage model with road-tested procedures, materials, and progress monitoring tools that can target individual needs. When students work with a tutor 3-5 times a week using a structured program, they are able to connect learning from one lesson to the next. Reading Corps, which serves over 25,000 students, demonstrates how a rigorously researched, daily early literacy intervention that is aligned to the science of reading and complements regular classroom instruction accelerates learning. Not only does the program focus on foundational reading skills, but it sparks a love of reading. Kelly Engman, a Minnesota elementary school principal, recalls a 3rd grade student who was initially apprehensive about reading. With encouragement from her tutor, the student blossomed into a confident, expressive reader. Like this student, so many Reading Corps students have made huge gains in a relatively short amount of

time -- 78% of Reading Corps students in the Northern Minnesota area exceeded target growth and accelerate their learning toward grade-level goals.    

Lesson Two

Many different folks can be terrific tutors. 

The best tutors have what Julie Wible from Success for All Foundation and Kate Bauer-Jones from Future Forward Literacy refer to as the “it factor,” that special something that enables an individual to commit to the work and connect with a student. Invested individuals who answer this call to service come from all walks of life. They are retirees, parents, university students, recent college graduates, community members, and educators. Being a content expert is not a pre-requisite. Researchers for Math Corps saw that trend in their data—math knowledge mattered less than using high-quality instructional procedures. When Saga Education recruits high school math tutors, they are not looking for math majors. They are looking for young adults who want to mentor teens and help them experience academic success. AARP Foundation Experience Corps is an early literacy program with a cadre of older adult volunteers across the country, each possessing a lifetime of experiences that enhance relationships with our youngest learners. Seven years is the average length of service for these tutors. Reading Rescue partners with the City university system (CUNY) to train education students in their early literacy programs. Many of their tutors are from the communities they serve and continue serving students through a career in education.

A strong tutoring model nurtures that “it” factor in an individual with strong professional development and ongoing coaching. Targeted Reading Instruction from UNC (TRI) incorporates one-to-one, real-time observation and coaching into the professional development they provide to school personnel who are serving as tutors. This continuous support helps the tutor individualize the one-to-one early literacy intervention and use data to target essential foundational reading skills. 

Lesson Three

Collaboration between schools and tutoring partners can ensure consistent implementation.

At the heart of so many tutoring success stories is the human connection between the adult and student. That human connection develops through the consistent implementation of a high quality program.

ProvenTutoring coalition partners find that collaboration with school leaders on scheduling is key to making sure the daily, or almost daily, intervention occurs and does not conflict with core instruction. Schools that commit an individual or team to help monitor implementation and student progress alongside the provider are able to ensure that crucial elements of the program are actually implemented with fidelity and moving the students forward. 

More High-Dosage Programs

Explore proven, high-dosage models in reading and mathematics on our website, proventutoring.org, or connect with us directly at info@proventutoring.org.

Reading K-3

Reading 4-8

Mathematics K-3

Mathematics 4-8

Mathematics 9-10

Success Stories

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