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Expert tips to hiring qualified tutors for school districts.
June 14, 2023
As educators and administrators, our goal is to support and uplift our students and set them up for future success in college and/or career. This is especially true when it comes to closing achievement gaps. To accelerate learning in equitable ways, a strategic tutoring program is essential to the overall student support system.
We all know that this is easier said than done. Building, supporting, and sustaining a tutoring program can be daunting. There’s a lot to consider. As I work with school district partners to tailor a program, they appreciate consultation about what Kelly Education is seeing as best practices. No two districts are exactly the same, so I always start with a needs assessment. Schools can’t properly staff tutors until they’ve completed one.
Identify the scope of your entire district's tutoring needs.
- Will sessions be conducted in person, virtually, or through a hybrid model?
- Which grade bands need support and in what content areas?
- What curricular materials will be made available to tutors?
- Will current school schedules accommodate during-the-day tutoring for more student engagement and participation? If so, will tutoring be embedded into the classroom or will students be pulled out at appropriate times?
- How will student achievement be measured?
- What are the budget considerations?
It’s only after you know the answers to these questions that you can begin to build a program that fits your districts needs. The backbone of the program is the quality of your tutors.
Finding the right tutors for your students is possible.
In this tight labor market—especially in education—recruiting quality tutors for in-person and/or virtual sessions is not impossible. You need to be laser focused. Here are a few tips based on my expertise in implementing tutoring programs across the country.
- Hire tutors who mirror the background and diversity of the students they serve. They need to be both qualified and culturally competent tutors who represent a district’s multi-ethnic, multi-language populations.
- Train your tutors through an orientation process that includes specialized tutor methodology— training topics should cover using formative assessments to gauge student comprehension, pacing sessions, and more. It’s also important to offer training on technology and safety issues and provide access to ongoing professional development. You might open an unexpected teacher pipeline!
- Provide ongoing support and accountability to your tutors. Let them know upfront how performance success will be measured. Through individual coaching, group seminars, and e-newsletters highlighting tutoring technology, testimonials, and best-practices, engage and grow your tutors.
- Recognize and reward your tutors for their success and commitment. This could be as simple as mentions in a newsletter for always being there for students or financially rewarding performance based on student progress from standardized assessments. Consider offering them a free lunch or admission to a school event.
High-impact tutoring is the gold standard.
In choosing tutoring models, we base our best practices on the high-impact approach as it best accomplishes academic goals. The Annenberg Institute at Stanford University—through the National Student Support Accelerator—defines high-impact tutoring as personalized instruction that complements classroom teaching, resulting in substantial learning gains for students.
When we help districts design a high-impact tutoring program, here’s what we recommend in getting the most out of the tutor and student relationship.
Tutor-Student Ratio. Tutors should conduct sessions one-to-one or in small groups, preferably with four or fewer students.
Matching. A strong tutor-student match allows the tutor to build rapport with their assigned students, work with schedules, and understand learning styles, academic skills, and personalities.
Consistency. Maintain tutor-student consistency over a semester or academic year.
Dosage. When possible, we strongly encourage during-the-school day sessions for equity and attendance.
Instructional content. Provide access to current district assessments, standards of focus, and curricular ancillary materials. This ensures you are addressing the academic content students are currently struggling with. Using your high-quality instructional materials also ensures alignment directly with district standards and classroom coursework.
Session structure. Sessions should happen in a supportive environment of mutual respect and collaboration to increase self-directed learning. Tutors should understand objectives and plan differentiated and paced sessions, then utilize open-ended questions and informal/formal formative assessments. After each session, tutors should document outcomes and observations.
We can help.
If all of this seems more intense than your district can handle, you aren’t alone. We work with districts around the country for that reason. As an education staffing company, our specialty is recruiting, vetting, and training educators and implementing programs with fidelity.
Sometimes, we provide tutors to other vendors who specialize in curriculum and virtual platforms. In fact, we currently work in the nation’s second largest school district to deliver high-impact tutors in partnership with a curriculum vendor. We also partner with another company to supply quality tutors who work from their curriculum and virtual platform.
When it comes to staffing and implementing tutoring programs, we know that one size does not fit all districts. Reach out today to learn how we can help your students.
Stephanie Wall, Ed.D./SHRM-CP is the director of the Tutoring Solutions Center of Excellence at Kelly Education. Prior to joining Kelly Education, she served for 14 years as a bilingual classroom teacher, building administrator, and district administrator.
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