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Key Ingredients of Effective High-Impact Online Tutoring

Online tutoring has become a much-discussed solution, with many terms like “high-dosage” and “high-impact” circulating as ways to replace traditional learning interventions. The question is, how do you know how much online tutoring is enough? And how do you identify effective online tutoring strategies that can benefit student math performance, even those who may not need it? 

In a recent edWebinar, Daniel Tracy of MIND Education and Yannai Segal of VIPTeacher discuss their collective vision of improving math learning by integrating high-impact tutoring strategies and best practices. Their discussion covers research and data around the most effective tutoring programs, what exactly high-impact tutoring means, their take—as a partnership—on the tutoring landscape, and how high-impact tutoring can be an optimal approach to ensuring student success nationwide.  

Read further to explore some of their discussion's highlights and key points. 


The Tutoring Landscape 

Though student math achievement had reached an all-time low in the past couple of years, high-impact tutoring has been touted as an effective solution to low math scores even before the pandemic hit. And given that the student math scores have been an issue well before the pandemic, we can’t ascribe all academic setbacks to Covid—so the solution can’t be short-term. Math scores have been dropping for years, well before Covid. 

High-impact tutoring is a solution that can potentially have a long-term impact. Many states are allocating their budget to invest in tutoring long-term. School districts are actively seeking ways to implement tutoring as one of the main classroom interventions to get student math scores back to where they need to be—perhaps even higher. 

Research shows that high-impact tutoring offers positive results and outcomes. For example, when a tutor has a direct relationship with a student multiple times a week—and this can take place in small groups—this makes a difference in how students learn and therefore creates a positive shift in their test scores.

The Main Facets of Successful Tutoring 

High-impact tutoring comprises many components—that's what makes it so high-impact. And the secret to its success in transforming student outcomes is how the different facets of high-impact tutoring come together.


Pairing a student with the right tutor can have a transformative impact on a student's math outcomes. Building a relationship between student and tutor is crucial. Moreover, having a consistent tutor, supported by ongoing oversight and coaching, is one of the main building blocks of any good school or learning environment. The markers of a quality tutor are built on a few things. The tutor: 

  • Is skilled at relationship building and well-versed in the content or subject matter
  • Undergoes training, oversight, ongoing coaching, and has clear lines of accountability
  • Is culturally responsive and reflects the lived experience of the students they serve

Successful tutoring is built upon creating a positive relationship between the tutor—or teacher overseeing the tutoring—and the student. On average, for a high-impact tutoring program to be effective, students can meet with their tutors three times a week, for ten to fifteen weeks. 

Not only do you want the student to get to know that teacher, and become comfortable with them, but you want the teacher to understand those students, see where they’re growing, where they’re challenged…. Having that strong connection is really important.

                                                                          Yannai Segal, Global Partnerships Director, VIPTeacher

High-Impact Tutoring Data 

Data plays a significant role in informing tutoring sessions and classroom instruction. The gold standard inside the tutoring space involves quantitative and qualitative data. When considering how to utilize and apply data, it should be used to inform decisions about curriculum at the district and state levels. 

At the classroom level, however, Daniel Tracy says, "We should rely on teachers and the human interaction that they're having with their students."

We should take big data sets, the size of the moon, and build curriculum that works…. What we're doing with VIPTeacher is we're taking the onus of changing the curriculum off of the teacher and providing insight data back to them.

                                                   Daniel Tracy, Director of Mathematics Innovation, MIND Education

Simply put, the data must inform the tutoring session and classroom instruction. Materials need to be designed in such a way that learning insights can be easily discernible by the tutor. The data should inform teacher-student interaction and not the material itself. In other words, we need a tutoring curriculum, not a curriculum adapted for tutoring—which means a tutoring curriculum that's closely aligned with what's happening in the classroom. 


Learning Integration

Many are of the mindset that tutoring can take place at any time, which is true. But for tutoring to be truly high-impact, it should occur during a school-adjacent time: right before or after school. At its most effective, tutoring should take place during the school day.

Embedding tutoring into the school program, whether before or after school, or carving out time during school hours, has many benefits. It can: 

  • Create a significantly higher likelihood of student attendance
  • Reach the students who need it most
  • Reduce barriers to attendance (e.g., additional cost, transportation)

Attendance is crucial. Knowing how well tutoring works, we want as many students to show up as possible. Additionally, coordinating with teachers creates more consistency for students and results in a deeper understanding of individual student needs. 


In sum, high-impact tutoring needs to: 

  • Involve a consistent tutor
  • Be relationship-focused 
  • Be informed by data 
  • Focus on acceleration (not remediation)
  • Be regularly scheduled at a minimum of three times per week
  • Accessible to all eligible students

There’s an impetus to change the current state of math proficiency. Only a third of students leave high school proficient in math—and proficiency is actually a low bar. Research has shown that high-impact tutoring produces transformative academic outcomes and serves to accelerate student learning. High-impact tutoring isn’t just another learning intervention to add to the mix. It’s an enhancement.

To learn more about the key ingredients of high-impact online tutoring, visit the link here to watch or listen to the full discussion between Daniel Tracy and Yannai Segal.

And for more information on ST Math Tutoring Powered by VIPTeacher, click on the banner below.


Victor Nguyen

About the Author

Victor Nguyen is MIND’s Content and Community Specialist. Victor is a passionate storyteller with a penchant for creative writing. In his free time, you can find him engrossed in books, going on long hikes, or trying to meditate.


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