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High Dosage Tutoring Strategy Guide

Pause on 2020-21 and 2021-22 State Accountability System Due to COVID-19

A second year of Accountability Pause (2021-2022) has been authorized by the Colorado legislature. The state's accountability system has been paused for 2020-21 and 2021-22. More details on the implications of a pause in accountability are available in the links below.


Introduction of Strategy

In this guide, we define High Dosage Tutoring as human instruction aimed at supplementing classroom-based education for groups of no more than six students that meet four or more days per week. This definition does not include computer-based supplemental instruction, small group instruction that replaces grade level instruction, or assisting students with completing class assignments or homework.

Research has shown that the following components support the effectiveness of high dosage tutoring. It is important to note that while there is evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of each component (see research following each component), these components are most effective when implemented together. The following components are derived from various articles and research that articulate what High Dosage Tutoring should include:

  1. Plan Vision and Logistics

  2. Implement Aligned and Data-Driven Instruction

Evidence Base

ESSA defines levels of research based on the quality of the study (Levels 1-4).  CDE requires that schools and districts identify the research base for strategies that they select for their Unified Improvement Plans, and for applications for school improvement funds in the EASI application.

The research on high dosage tutoring that is cited here meets the definition of Level 3 research. The research cited focused on the impact on student achievement when all high dosage tutoring components were implemented. In addition, substantial research meeting levels 1-4 have been completed that found that when implemented to a high level, high dosage tutoring had an impact on student achievement.


Cook, P. J. (2015). Not too late: Improving academic outcomes for disadvantaged youth. Northwestern University Institute for Policy Research Working Paper, (15-01).

Dobbie, W., & Fryer Jr, R. G. (2013). Getting beneath the veil of effective schools: Evidence from New York City. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 5(4), 28-60.

Fryer Jr, R. G. (2014). Injecting charter school best practices into traditional public schools: Evidence from field experiments. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 129(3), 1355-1407.

Fryer Jr, R. G., & Howard-Noveck, M. (2020). High-dosage tutoring and reading achievement: evidence from New York City. Journal of Labor Economics, 38(2), 421-452.

Hallgren, K., Gonzalez, N., Choi, J., Kelly, K., Li, A., Ochoa, L., ... & Gill, B. (2017). The Atlanta Public Schools Turnaround Strategy After One Year: High Impact Tutoring and the Purpose Built Schools Partnership. Report submitted to

the Atlanta Public Schools. Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research.

Kraft, M. A. (2015). How to make additional time matter: Integrating individualized tutorials into an extended day. Education Finance and Policy, 10(1), 81-116.

Nickow, A., Oreopoulos, P., & Quan, V. (2020). The impressive effects of tutoring on prek-12 learning: A systematic review and meta-analysis of the experimental evidence.



Possible Root Causes include inadequate, inconsistent or ineffective…

  • System for additional Interventions

  • Student experiences

  • Student preparation

Is this strategy a good fit for your district/school?

  • Does this major improvement strategy focus on a priority performance challenge and associated root cause(s)?

  • Are the expected outcomes of this major improvement strategy highly valued?

  • Do key leaders support this major improvement strategy? Do key leaders have the capacity to lead the strategy ongoing?  

  • What are the skills and competencies needed to implement this major improvement strategy with fidelity?  What support/professional development do staff members need to implement this strategy effectively?

  • Are the time, effort and resources needed for implementation feasible for the staff involved?

Considerations for Strategy Implementation

  • Is there district and community support for high dosage tutoring?

  • Is there time to plan for high dosage tutoring?

  • Are there competing family, community, school and/or district demands that will lessen the effectiveness of high dosage tutoring?

  • Are there staff, teachers and administrators available and willing to provide high dosage tutoring?

  • Is funding available to support high dosage tutoring?

  • Is the purpose of high dosage tutoring clear and aligned to student needs?

Implementation Guide



Establish Vision and Infrastructure

Ensure that there is a clearly articulated purpose and vision for high dosage tutoring. Schools should make decisions around the timing, frequency and duration of tutoring, size of tutoring groups and how to select students and tutors. Additional decisions should be made around tutoring content, communication systems and assessments.

Determine Tutoring Schedule

Tutoring during the school day leads to an increased effect size of 0.4 standard deviations. Tutoring during the school day should be supplemental rather than replacing grade level content classroom instruction. Examples of times during the school day include during electives/specials, or during a second block of content instruction. Schools have increased the length of the school day in order to incorporate tutoring into the daily schedule. Tutoring after school leads to an increased effect size of 0.21 standard deviations.

It is important to have a consistent, regularly scheduled time and location in order to increase student participation in tutoring.

Most tutoring programs reporting increased effect sizes have 30-60 minutes of tutoring at least three days each week, with a greater effect size with four to five days per week.

Students who participate in approximately 65 hours of tutoring have shown an increase in achievement.

Effective tutoring lasts less than 20 weeks; more time has not shown to have an increased effect on academic achievement.

Select Students

Students should be selected using diagnostic assessment data.

Make Decisions around Size of Tutoring Groups

One-to-one tutoring is generally more effective for students in preschool or kindergarten. Students in first grade benefit most from either one-to-one tutoring or in groups of two students. For students in second grade and above, tutoring in groups of three or four students is more effective. High Dosage Tutoring is considered to have six or less students per tutoring group.

Select Quality Tutors

Schools that used teachers as tutors generally have stronger results compared to schools that use others as tutors.

  • Tutoring is most effective when teachers provide instruction. 

  • Using paraprofessionals as tutors provided slightly less effectiveness than teachers, but still provided a significant positive impact on academic achievement.

  • Using community members, such as college students, or parents resulted in a small positive impact. When using community members or parents, there is a need for additional training and supervision in order to achieve results.

Determine Content Area(s)

Generally, tutoring in reading has a greater positive impact on younger students compared to older students.

  • Reading tutoring has a moderate positive impact for preschoolers and kindergarten students. 

  • There is slightly less, but still a significant positive impact of reading tutoring for first grade students. 

  • There is a small but positive impact of reading tutoring for students in second through fifth grade. 

  • There is a slight increased impact for middle and high school students receiving reading tutoring.

Generally, tutoring in math has a greater positive impact on older students compared to younger students.

  • Math tutoring has a moderate positive impact for students in preschool and kindergarten

  • There is a slightly less moderate impact on students in first grade.

  • The positive impact of math tutoring increases to a moderate level for students in second through fifth grade. 

  • On average, there is a small positive impact for middle and high school students receiving general math tutoring although there is research that refers to greater positive impacts for middle and high school students when students participate in high dosage tutoring as defined.

Action Steps


Ensure Match between Student Needs and Tutoring Content

High Dosage Tutoring is more likely to positively impact student achievement when the instructional content of tutoring closely matches the students’ needs. Tutors should use results from students’ diagnostic assessments to determine instructional content during tutoring.

Instructional content during tutoring should also reinforce the core content taught in the regular classroom. Tutoring programs should have systems to regularly communicate what is being taught in the classroom and current performance and misconceptions of students to ensure that tutors can support current classroom instruction

Implement Frequent Assessments

In order to gauge the impact of previous tutoring content as well as determine subsequent tutoring content, student learning should be assessed frequently.