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Tutoring Initiative Shows Improvement in Math Scores

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Transformative Tutoring Initiative Shows Marked Improvement in Mathematics Scores for High School Students

A notebook with white paper and colored math tiles sitting on top of it

Preliminary research results show “high-dosage” tutoring in mathematics resulted in better test scores for Oklahoma high school students who participated in a study led by the Transformative Tutoring Initiative program of the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education at the University of Oklahoma.

“Oklahoma’s eighth-graders have performed well below the national average for mathematics on the National Assessment of Educational Progress test for two decades,” said Stacy Reeder, dean of the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education.

“Tragically, on the most recent NAEP test, Oklahoma students demonstrated the greatest decline in mathematics learning compared to all other states in the nation,” she added. “The timing of this decline indicates a profound toll on student mathematics learning during the pandemic. We must treat the task of helping students with the urgency this moment demands. High-dosage tutoring has the potential to transform learning outcomes for students in our state.”

Made possible by a $3 million gift from The Randall and Lenise Stephenson Family Foundation, the Transformative Tutoring Initiative staff trained more than 100 OU students to serve as tutors for 194 students at the school sites, which cover urban, rural and suburban districts. The two-year study was structured using a randomized control to measure the effect of what the researchers describe as high-dosage tutoring in mathematics, consisting of one trained tutor working with two students for a 50-minute class period three times a week.

The first year of the study in 2021-22 took place at two high schools in the Oklahoma City and Norman metro regions and expanded to include five high schools in the same regions during the second year. Ninth-grade students enrolled at the participating schools who previously exhibited low achievement at the end of eighth grade were randomized to treatment and control conditions. Students in need of tutoring were identified after taking the NWEA MAP test, administered by Transformative Tutoring Initiative researchers.

In the treatment group, students received the high-dosage tutoring in mathematics, while students in the control group attended a remediation mathematics course and did not receive the high-dosage tutoring.

“During the first half of this year, students working with OU tutors showed considerable gains in mathematics – more than double that of their peers in the control group,” said Daniel Hamlin, assistant professor in the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education and lead researcher for the Transformative Tutoring Initiative. “While there is still work to do, these results give us encouragement that high-dosage tutoring is working and may even be an effective recovery strategy for students who lost ground during the pandemic.”

The Transformative Tutoring Initiative team plans to continue to follow the treatment and control group of students beyond ninth grade by investigating the high school, post-secondary and later-life outcomes of participants. This research is also laying the groundwork for expanding this model of high-dosage tutoring across the state.

“Prior to receiving the tutoring, she at best disliked math and at worst hated it,” said one parent whose daughter is part of the program. “Since having a tutor, she is more confident with her math skills and believes she will be able to get through her classes. She also built a great relationship with her tutor and felt like she was not only a great math tutor but also a great mentor.”

Click Here to Read The 74 News Article on the TTI