Results of Study Conducted in Chicago Public Schools Lead Experts to Prescribe More Individualized Tutoring Nationwide
At iLearn Academy, we know the impact a tutor can have on a student's academics and future opportunities. Study after study confirm the benefits of tutors and we see these benefits every day in iLearn Academy classrooms. Since our inception, iLearn Academy has sought to bring our small class, and progress based personal approach to tutoring to as many students as possible at as low a cost as possible. Though we strive to make our type of tutoring accessible we are often limited by the practicalities of having to keep the doors open all the while compensating our highly qualified teachers. A new education policy proposal may change that for charitable tutoring centers like ours, by making it conceivable to bring iLearn Academy type tutoring sessions into public schools across the nation at no extra cost to school districts.
The Hamilton Project
We were pleased but not surprised to hear about a recent national education policy proposal made by the Hamilton Project (an economic policy initiative at the Brookings Institute) which calls for public schools to adopt an approach to teaching that is foundational to how iLearn Academy operates. The new policy calls to dramatically ramp up the use of in-school math tutors in addition to regular classes to help students perform at higher levels with existing school funds. This policy was announced by the Hamilton Project following a two year study in the Chicago Public Schools which showed dramatic increases in math understanding through multiple means of assessment on ninth and tenth grade underperforming students. The proposal brought forth in the Hamilton Project, "Improving Academic Outcomes for Disadvantaged Students: Scaling Up Individualized Tutorials" (Ander, Guryan, and Ludwig) calls for public schools to provide its underperforming students with targeted sessions multiple times per week in a small group setting by a tutor well-versed in secondary mathematics with frequent assessments to monitor growth. This approach has long worked for iLearn Academy students and it has now been proven to work for students in the Chicago Public Schools as well.
The Hamilton Project Results: Improved Grades
The Hamilton Project uses the data gathered from a 2013-14 study they conducted to support to their claims that individualized tutoring for math leads to big results. During the study Chicago Public Schools welcomed Match/SAGA (non-profit tutoring organizations) tutors into 12 high schools for one year. The results were impressive: after one year of being tutored in a two to one student to tutor ratio for 50 minutes a day, ninth and tenth grade CPS students who participated in the tutorials saw an average "increase of 0.58" to their math GPA on a 4 point scale, moved from the "34th percentile to the 42nd percentile" in math standardized tests (Plan/Pre-ACT), and "learned one to two extra years of math, over and above what the typical American high school student learns in one year", (p 11. Ander, Guryan, and Ludwig). These results, however, are nothing new. We've long known that tutoring in a small group setting helps students immensely. You'd be hard pressed to find any studies since the 70s that don't reaffirm that. What's new here is being able to provide personalized tutoring to students with no additional expenses to school districts.
Results Show Benefits of Tutoring Go Beyond Education:
1. Reduced Crime Rates
The Hamilton Project lists in "Improving Academic Outcomes for Disadvantaged Students" many future economic benefits, from individual earnings to reductions in crime for having a tutoring safety-net in place for students at risk of failing out of school. The proposal found that the benefits could be "1.3 to 2.9 times as large as the cost" (Ander, 11). The possible social and monetary benefits are wild especially considering that we can get them through funds already available. Due to the reauthorization of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December 2015 school districts can now allocate Title 1 funding to reputable non-profit tutoring services. Chicago Public Schools was able to pay for all Match/SAGA tutorials for '14/'15 and 15'/16' school years all with government stipends through Title 1. Title 1 paid all totaled $2.9 million to provide these tutoring services for 12 high schools one year and 20 high schools the next year.
2. Lower Educational Costs
The Hamilton Project states that the average cost per student to CPS for a year of tutoring was $3,800. If this system was scaled up nationally they predict costs could be cut down to $2,500/yr about 2/3 of the original cost. There were $14 billion (Ander, 12) of Title 1 funding made available to districts nationwide in 2014, and hundreds of millions of dollars each year to large districts like CPS. These cost for tutoring would be 3-4% of Title 1 funds already allocated to schools.
3. Personalized Student Attention
The Hamilton Project has prescribed for the nation essentially what we prescribe for every student who comes through our doors: devoted, personalized, attention in a very small group setting by a tutor who is highly knowledgeable in math. The Match/SAGA Tutorial Experiment done in Chicago Public School proves once again that regular sessions with a small student to tutor ratio are undeniably helpful for students who are behind. They further provide a way schools can get these services at no extra cost to themselves. This would be a practical way to get tutors into public schools where they can have the most impact. iLearn Academy strongly believes in the power of personalized tutoring. We would love to see services like these and ours reach a wider audience and will be covering the progress of this proposal closely.
To read more about the proposal please follow the links below.