O P I N I O N
Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.
Imagine how well you would have done in school if you had access to a tutor 24/7. Today, this is a real option for New Hampshire students, thanks to a partnership between the Department of Education and Tutor.com.
Through a program launched in September, middle and high school students have access to on-demand, one-to-one tutoring anytime, anywhere. Tutoring for nearly every subject is available, and students can connect with tutors whenever they need help – even at midnight.
SAUs across the state are working with Tutor.com’s implementation team to set up single sign-on access for students through each school’s learning management system. Any student not accessing Tutor.com through their school LMS may create an individual account to access the service.
To date, the program has delivered more than 1,500 tutoring sessions with students, which includes 772 math sessions, 210 English Language Arts sessions, and 149 science sessions. Dozens of students have utilized drop-off writing review services and logged in for sessions with the platform’s SAT® and ACT® Essentials test prep from The Princeton Review®; dozens more have connected for real-time tutoring help with Advanced Placement® subjects and other standardized test preparation.
Typically, when we think of tutoring, we imagine academic support happening outside of traditional school hours. A student gets home, starts their homework, and perhaps can’t remember how the teacher described solving for x in a quadratic equation. Now, rather than waiting until the next day for the teacher refresher, that student can take advantage of tutoring, get the help they need, and continue to move their learning forward. This accelerates the student’s learning, making it possible to cover more material in less time. Multiply that benefit over the course of a semester for entire cohorts, and it’s easy to imagine the impact that widespread access can have on student achievement.
Students aren’t the only ones who benefit, however. Tutoring also provides educators with an extra tool to use with their students inside the classroom.
Interestingly, the peak time for Tutor.com usage in New Hampshire is 11 a.m. on Wednesday. Teachers are quite busy in the classroom and can find themselves stretched thin trying to support the needs of all students at once. If a student is struggling with a particular skill, a teacher can assign that student to work with a tutor on that one skill while they continue focusing on the rest of the class. Or, a teacher might have students submit rough-draft writing assignments to a tutor for initial feedback. A teacher might also recommend that a Spanish-speaking student for whom English is a second language engage in a tutoring session with a bilingual tutor to reinforce a lesson in their native language.
Educators using Tutor.com can view the content areas in which their students are seeking tutoring assistance. This can help them tailor their instruction to specific areas where students are struggling. In post-session surveys, 95 percent of NH students said Tutor.com helps them be more confident about their schoolwork, and 93 percent say it’s helping them improve their grades.
Research supports the benefits and efficacy of tutoring for students. One of the greatest challenges, however, is ensuring that students access tutoring when they need help. A recent study by the Annenberg Institute at Brown University highlights one of the problems with opt-in tutoring services. As it turns out, students who are struggling and likely need the tutoring the most are the least likely to engage the support. Therefore, access to tutoring becomes the barrier.
There are ways to overcome this challenge. First, we need to ensure all students are aware that this resource is available to them at no cost. The New Hampshire program makes tutoring available to every student in grades 6–12, whether in a traditional public school, charter school, non-public school, home education program, or Education Freedom Account. Currently, 49 districts are integrated with the platform, and it will continue to be available to every district statewide so that everyone can take advantage of this valuable resource.
The next obstacle is getting students to utilize the tutoring services. By familiarizing students with the resource during school hours, we also set students up to succeed when they engage outside of school. This strategy has proven effective in at least one California district, Tutor.com partner Fresno Unified School District, which includes about 74,000 students – the majority of whom qualify for free or reduced lunch. When teachers encourage students to seek help, and when they model how to access support, students have the tools to connect on their own.
Through our partnership with Tutor.com, as well as numerous other support resources we make available, we are guided by the goal of equipping our teachers and students with tools for success so that every child can realize a bright future.