5 Tutoring Principles to Reverse Covid-Related Learning Loss

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Written by Keith Brown

Recently, I wrote an article about the Covid Slide, the pandemic’s magnification of what we’ve traditionally called the Summer Slide–those three months between a school year’s end and start in which students lose their grasp on their latest academic gains. 

COVID-19 expanded this timeframe and, unfortunately, students and their studies have suffered. This learning loss has a financial cost to the US GDP estimated to be in the billions. This NWEA Report delves further into the pandemic’s impact on students’ math and reading achievement and growth.

This news is certainly devastating; however, there is a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Several studies demonstrate that intense tutoring can reverse the Covid slide in profound ways, such as these: 

One study, a meta-analysis by J-PAL North America, a research center focused on reducing poverty, found that tutoring programs were effective in consistently improving learning outcomes for students. Moreover, these improvements outperformed those of most other educational programs. 

This study also condensed nearly 100 other studies to determine the most effective tutoring standards to follow. Here are five of these principles that tutors and educators can easily integrate into their learning programs:

1. Organize around subjects and grade level combinations

Tutoring programs organized around specific subjects and grade-level are likely to have a bigger impact on learning, as they are specific and targeted. Examples include 6th Grade Reading, 9th Grade Science, etc.

2. Use diagnostic assessments

Assessments should be used throughout programs, especially at their beginning, to assess areas of opportunity for student improvement. Diagnostic assessments are also valuable markers for student progress!

We take this approach at Enhanced Prep–our test prep programs begin with a diagnostic assessment and progress through a series of practice tests for optimal student learning and strategy retention.

3 Adopt strategies that serve students from diverse backgrounds

Different students will require various approaches to learning! Students with specific learning challenges (ADHD, English as a second language, etc.), for example, will have different learning needs than those who do not.

It’s important to use specific strategies that serve students of diverse backgrounds–diagnostic assessments can be clear for pinpointing these needs at the outset.

4 Avoid reinventing the wheel

Innovation is awesome, but there’s no need to create programs entirely from scratch. 

Rely on dedicated experts who have already developed successful programs or tried-and-true curriculum so that everyone can focus on the students.

5 Use digital learning platforms 

Due to the pandemic, most schools have moved partially or entirely online. Some students are actually performing better with virtual learning (NPR, Extroverts). Virtual tutoring programs in particular allow the best tutors to be available for students, regardless of location. 

These are just a few principles that can guide educators in the direction of serving our students well, no matter their circumstances. These can also be helpful for preventing a second Covid Slide, given that summer break is just on the horizon.

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