High-Impact Tutoring Can Positively Transform Students’ Lives

Texas students need help. Just one in two Texas students meet grade-level expectations in reading and just one in three in math, and Texas has historically struggled to catch students back up to grade-level. Effective interventions, like high-impact tutoring, can reverse this trend.

High-impact tutoring (HIT), as described in the above video, outpaces other learning interventions – the average effect of this kind of tutoring program on academic achievement is larger than roughly 85 percent of other education interventions. When implemented effectively, HIT has the potential to recover nearly a year’s worth of lost learning in just one school year. This is notable because, as referenced above, research shows that kids who fall behind stay behind. Only about 5 percent of students who are not at grade level catch up within two years – and this has real implications for lifetime earnings and future unemployment. If unaddressed, declines in students’ future earnings could result in a 1.6% economic loss to Texas’ GDP, or $938.7 billion in present value, according to the Hoover Institute.

Last session, the Texas Legislature took a bold and necessary step by passing House Bill 4545 (87R), sponsored by State Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) and State Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood). The bill requires 30 hours of accelerated instruction for each core subject on which a student did not meet grade-level standards. The bill’s passage prioritized high-impact tutoring in response to the pandemic’s detrimental impact on student learning, making Texas one of the first 10 states to enact statewide tutoring legislation to get students back on track.

HIT is labor and cost intensive but carries a strong return on investment. As the Commit Partnership’s Senior Director of Academic Recovery Dr. Sharla Horton-Williams said, “The tactics of the past will not be enough to combat the learning lost during the pandemic. It is time to change our mindsets and implement evidence-based policies like high quality, high-impact tutoring. It is difficult, but it is doable – and proven to work for our students.”

North Texas voters agree: in a recent poll, 76% of North Texans said they support evidence-backed tutoring ratios for students who are academically behind. That’s why as legislators consider modifications to HB 4545 this session, we must ensure school districts have the support needed to implement high-impact tutoring with fidelity.

Texas can meet students’ academic needs while increasing district flexibility. In particular, Texas should:

  • Narrow required subjects to Reading and Math in Grades 3-9;
  • Provide flexibility in required hours based on academic readiness;
  • Ensure parent communication and engagement in getting students on grade level; and
  • Ensure effective data collection to evaluate progress.

These modifications will help ensure more students receive access to this transformative academic intervention.

“While what we have accomplished in the past [two] years has been significant, we still have a long way to go,” Horton-Williams said. “And we think if we continue the direction we are going, we will see tremendous growth in our students.”

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