July 2023: Dr. Douglas Lauen
Professor of Public Policy and Sociology at UNC-Chapel Hill
High Dosage Tutoring in Union County
“We want to know if this intervention will help with pandemic learning loss in meaningful ways. This knowledge isn’t lost forever. Students just need extra help and support to get back to where they should be.”
Dr. Douglas Lauen
In response to learning loss during COVID-19, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction and the North Carolina Collaboratory have joined forces to fund twenty unique research projects to accelerate learning. High Dosage Tutoring to Support Pandemic Learning Recovery and School Improvement in Union County is one of these projects.
How will this research benefit students and teachers?
We have an educational crisis on our hands with unfinished learning because of the pandemic. Kids are behind in reading and especially in middle-grade math. We want to know if this intervention will help with pandemic learning loss in meaningful ways. This knowledge isn’t lost forever. Students just need extra help and support to get back to where they should be. Right now, this is a major concern because the state test scores show that kids are behind as do national test scores. The trick and the challenge for us is that this is an expensive intervention that is hard to implement, but it is probably our best hope of getting kids back on track.
What would you hope the public understands about the work you are doing?
The purpose of our grant is first to figure out if high-dosage tutoring can be successfully implemented. Second, we will figure out how much it costs. Third, we will figure out the impacts on students.
How is your project able to build off past research?
Union County implemented high dosage tutoring before the pandemic during the 2018-2018 school year. They were an early adopter of this approach, so they decided to expand this to schools that were going to assign students to tutoring based on their test score achievements which was a targeted-tutoring model that came into play after the pandemic because so many more schools were struggling because of pandemic learning loss. It is not tutoring on just anything, but it is tutoring on what they just learned in class. So, the research shows that this model of high-dosage tutoring can raise test scores by a pretty significant amount if it is implemented correctly, consistently, and with enough students and high-quality tutors.
Do you have any comments from interviews you have done so far or general project observations you would like to share?
We have been able to do some interviews and observations of people and students. We are seeing that the schools that have been doing this for a while have a model that is working quite well. Even over the pandemic, they were doing this model virtually. The schools that are new to this program are struggling a bit more with how to implement it which is totally expected. There are going to be bumps along the way. In some of these schools, there aren’t that many kids that aren’t getting tutored. There aren’t that many higher-performing students who aren’t eligible for tutoring. In some of the other targeted-tutoring schools, there are 50, 60, and 70 percent of kids who aren’t getting tutored. There is a lot of variety among these schools. We look forward to working with the district and coming up with solutions to some of these challenges.