Insights from the NSSA Conference on High-Impact Tutoring

On May 9th, 2024, education professionals from across the country gathered for the National Student Support Accelerator (NSSA) Conference, focused on “High-Impact Tutoring: Supporting Students Now and for the Long Run!” This event brought together district leaders, educators, researchers, and tutoring providers to explore and enhance high-impact tutoring (HIT) programs, aiming to address learning gaps and promote educational equity.


Since its inception in early 2021, high-impact tutoring has expanded significantly, driven by the urgent need to address COVID-19-induced learning losses and long-standing educational inequalities. Across the nation, HIT programs have been making strides, with examples of success seen in various settings:

  • Kindergarten students benefit from one-on-one tutoring with well-trained instructors, using robust instructional materials.
  • Middle and High School students receive focused tutoring in specific subjects like math, helping them excel in their coursework.

What Makes HIT Programs Effective

The conference highlighted several key characteristics essential for the success of HIT programs:

·      Tutor Recruitment and Selection: Selecting tutors with the right skills and mindsets is essential. Programs that hire local tutors who can meet the specific needs of students tend to be more effective. Notably, tutor characteristics can significantly impact literacy outcomes.

·      Tutor Training: High-quality training for tutors is critical. Training tutors effectively can improve their skill levels and positively affect student achievement. Interestingly, the quality of tutor training has a higher impact than the tutor’s degree.

·      Tutor Coaching and Feedback: Ongoing coaching and feedback help tutors refine their practices, thereby enhancing program effectiveness. Regular feedback loops are essential for continuous improvement.

·      Data-Driven Approaches: Effective HIT programs rely on data to guide their strategies. They use formative assessments to monitor progress and make informed decisions. Additionally, they establish processes for continuous evaluation and adaptation based on data insights.

Student Instruction Strategies

Successful HIT programs employ several instructional strategies:

  • Student Grouping: Grouping students by skill or ability level can enhance the effectiveness of tutoring.
  • Tutor Consistency: Retaining the same tutors over multiple years helps build stronger relationships and continuity in instruction.
  • High-Quality Instructional Materials (HQIM): Using research-based instructional materials ensures high-quality education.
  • Frequency and Duration: Tutoring sessions should be held at least three times a week, ideally five, with each session lasting a minimum of 30 minutes.


Scheduling and Integration

The timing and integration of tutoring sessions are necessary for their effectiveness:

  • During School Day: Tutoring during school hours is approximately twice as effective as after-school programs. However, after-school tutoring can still be effective with proper systems for engagement and attendance.
  • Aligned with Classroom Curriculum: Integrating tutoring with the school schedule and aligning it with classroom curriculum enhances its effectiveness.
  • Flexibility and Adaptation: Constantly reviewing data and being willing to pivot and make changes in real-time is vital for success.


Building Sustainable HIT Programs

Implementing and scaling HIT programs is challenging. The conference emphasized the importance of sharing innovative solutions to funding and operational challenges, understanding the latest research, and exploring pathways to quality and sustainability. By fostering collaboration among district, state, and higher education leaders, as well as researchers and tutoring providers, the goal is to increase and equalize access to high-impact tutoring for all students.


The NSSA Conference provided valuable insights into the essential components of high-impact tutoring programs. By focusing on effective tutor recruitment, training, coaching, data-driven approaches, strategic student instruction, and flexible scheduling, educational institutions can enhance the impact of their tutoring efforts. With continued collaboration and innovation, high-impact tutoring can play a pivotal role in bridging learning gaps and promoting educational equity for students across the country.

As we continue to navigate the post-pandemic educational landscape, the lessons learned from this conference will be instrumental in shaping the future of high-impact tutoring and ensuring that every student has the opportunity to thrive academically.