Education researchers have long known that small-group tutoring generates some of “the best learning conditions that we can devise,” partly because it individualizes instruction and provides an opportunity for mentorship (Bloom, 1984). Tutoring addresses a central challenge in traditional classroom instruction: teaching students with vastly differing levels of academic achievement. However, the per pupil cost of these programs is often significant, making it unsustainable for public school districts to provide it to students at large-scale.
Saga Education’s high-dosage tutoring provides daily 45 to 50-minute, two-on-one instruction to students during the school day at modest per-pupil costs. By recognizing that tutoring is fundamentally different from traditional classroom teaching, Saga can hire and supervise tutors who can be effective and are willing to do this work for a modest stipend for a year as public service. The pool of individuals who can effectively deliver this small-group instruction far outnumbers the pool of educators who can be successful classroom teachers; the latter requires expertise in classroom management and whole-group instruction that the former does not. Consequently, tutors do not need to have extensive prior teacher training, and their success does not depend on years of on-the-job learning, enabling Saga to deliver this individualized instruction for over 130 contact hours per year at costs that are more reasonable for a public school district to bear by hiring recent college graduates, retirees, or career-switchers.
Personalized Learning Initiative Research Brief
Overview of the Personalized Learning Initiative, a nationwide R&D initiative to scale the benefits of tutoring.
Research Brief: Personalized Learning Initiative
Learn more about the Personalized Learning Initiative.
Saga Technology Research Brief
Learn more about the Saga Technology study and its early results.
Not Too Late: Improving Academic Outcomes among Adolescents
Read our academic paper on the early Saga studies published in the American Economic Review.
Since the 2013-14 academic year, Saga Education has implemented this high-dosage tutoring model in 9th and 10th-grade math classrooms in Chicago. To generate gold-standard evidence on the efficacy of this intervention, the Education Lab research team, in partnership with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and Saga Education, has carried out two separate large-scale randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with thousands of students across the city. Beginning in 2013, the research team worked with CPS to identify over 5,000 9th and 10th graders who could have benefited from programming and then randomly assigned them to one of two conditions—high-dosage tutoring (previously delivered by Match Education, but now provided by Saga Education) or a group receiving “business as usual” or status quo school and community supports.
Results from this study show improvements in math test scores by the equivalent of one to two and half years of extra math learning for the typical American high school student (Reardon, 2011). The results also indicate improvements in students’ math GPA and reductions in math and non-math course failures.