Press Release UChicago Education Lab June 3, 2024

Study Finds In-School High-Dosage Tutoring Combining Technology and Tutor Time Can Successfully Accelerate Student Learning, Reduce Costs to Districts

Findings from a study of a Saga Education tutoring model show that in-school high-dosage tutoring infused with educational technology increased learning for students in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and New York City Public Schools (NYCPS).

CHICAGO, IL – The University of Chicago Education Lab released results from a study of a high-dosage tutoring model which found that substituting some tutor time with educational technology can reduce costs by one-third and halve the number of tutors needed without compromising effectiveness. This study builds on previous research of high-dosage tutoring shown to double or triple what students learn in a year.

In the aftermath of the global COVID-19 pandemic, United States Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona strongly encouraged districts to support high-dosage tutoring with at least part of the $122 billion the federal government provided to overcome pandemic-related learning loss. Research suggests that high-dosage tutoring—consistent time for students to work with a tutor using a structured curriculum delivered three or more days per week during the school day—is the most effective way to accelerate student learning.

But school districts hoping to expand their tutoring programs are running up against two key challenges to scaling up the benefits of high-dosage tutoring: cost and staffing. Tutoring programs are cost-prohibitive for many schools; even if schools spent all federal pandemic relief funding on tutoring alone, these programs would only reach a fraction of the students in need. And while there is evidence that educational technology can help supplement instruction, there is more to learn about how to implement these resources equitably and at scale.

“The findings from this study mark a pivotal moment for both students and educators, not only within Chicago Public Schools but for school districts across the country,” said Bogdana Chkoumbova, Chief Education Officer of Chicago Public Schools. “By accelerating learning with high-dosage tutoring that incorporates educational technology, we’re beginning to unlock and understand an innovative approach to education that provides targeted supports to students through extended learning time, helping students thrive in the classroom.”

The University of Chicago Education Lab partnered with CPS, NYCPS, and nonprofit Saga Education to evaluate a tutoring program–what we call the “Saga Technology” model–that replaces some tutor time with educational technology. Specifically, this paper examined whether we can reduce reliance on tutor time by encouraging students to use educational technology, while still maintaining student learning outcomes.

The results suggest we can. When students alternated between a tutor and a high-quality education technology platform, schools were able to reduce the costs of tutoring programs by one-third without any drop-off in effectiveness from the previous study. Participating students experienced the equivalent of an extra one to two years of math learning, a result comparable to Saga’s highly successful traditional tutoring program.

“We’re proud to have a longstanding relationship with the UChicago Education Lab. We’re constantly trying to push the boundaries and be innovative in how we can deliver tutoring to the most students possible, and this study is an exciting example of doing just that,” said AJ Gutierrez, Co-Founder and Chief Policy and Public Affairs Officer of Saga Education, a partner in this study. “Today’s results help us understand that our high-impact tutoring model is an effective and cost-effective tool to reach more students and help them overcome learning loss, get back on track, and reach their full potential.”

This study shares findings on the effectiveness of the model in two large school districts during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 academic years. The study provides a proof point that the Saga Technology model can work when the right mix of educational technology and tutor time is implemented, providing a potential “recipe” for scaling high-dosage tutoring.

With this evidence that the Saga Technology tutoring model can accelerate learning at a lower cost, the Education Lab is now exploring whether and how these ideas work at scale. Lessons learned from this study inspired the Personalized Learning Initiative (PLI), the Education Lab’s current initiative to overcome learning loss for students nationwide. Preliminary results from the PLI show that in-school high-dosage tutoring is leading to large and positive effects on student learning in math – even when delivered in the aftermath of the pandemic and in diverse academic settings.

The goal of the PLI is to figure out not just whether tutoring works on average but also determine which models of tutoring work best for which students so we can expand the reach of this effective and cost-effective intervention. The Education Lab is bringing this highly effective tutoring model at a lower cost to more students in need of urgent support.

“Very rarely do you see such a large reduction in cost and no loss in program effectiveness,” said Dr. Monica Bhatt, Senior Research Director at the University of Chicago Education Lab. “These findings are exciting because they provide us a pathway to scale and a potential recipe for districts to follow for implementing high-quality differentiated instruction.”

This study received substantial support from the AbbVie Foundation, Arnold Ventures, Griffin Catalyst, and Overdeck Family Foundation.

Read more about the study

Media Contact: Sarah Rand,, 312-513-1035