MATCH tutoring is effective, cheap

“High-dosage” tutoring has produced large achievement gains at MATCH Education‘s Boston charter schools, according to a Pioneer Institute study.  “MATCH-style tutoring is less expensive and has proven far more effective than widely accepted reforms such as reduced class size and extended school days,” said Cara Stillings Candal, author of  Match-ing Students with Excellent Tutors.

Match Education set up math tutoring in Lawrence, Massachusetts schools. “After one full year of implementation at two grade levels, those students have seen historic achievement gains,” the study finds.

The success of the Match Corps is based on the ability to get well-educated young people to dedicate a year to tutoring, fully integrating the program into the life of the school, the presence of a strong accountability system to ensure its effectiveness and strong relationships among teachers, tutors, students and their families. Every Match tutor calls the parents of the students he or she tutors at least once a week.

To make the program more appealing to elite graduates of the nation’s top colleges, Match provides housing options for its tutors and pays them a stipend ($14,300 for the 2013-2014 academic year). At its high school for example, Match turned the top floor of its building into a dormitory; having tutors on site allowed every Match student to have at least two hours of tutoring daily.

 Alan Safran, MATCH Tutors, says there’s a large pool of people interested in tutoring, despite low pay. It’s a lot easier than being a classroom teacher.

MATCH-style tutoring produced big gains for low-income, black males in Chicago, according to another study, writes Owen Phillips on EdCentral.

Disadvantaged 9th- and 10th-graders scored in the 34th percentile on city math tests at the experiment’s end; the control group was at the 19th percentile.  “The improvement was roughly equivalent to three years’ worth of math instruction,” writes Phillips.

Students spent an hour each day in two-on-one tutoring based on the MATCH model. They also “met once a week in groups to develop emotional literacy, impulse control and interpersonal problem-solving skills.”

Tutored students also had fewer absences and were more likely to be on track for graduation.

The tutors in this experiment were recent college graduates and had no formal teaching credentials or previous experience. They were paid just $17,000 a year. . . . The tutors could individualize lesson plans, and spend less time managing the classroom and more time developing relationships with the students to maximize time-on-task.

The program cost $4,400 per student. By comparison, the Tennessee Star Class Room Reduction experiment cost about $19,600 per participant, notes Phillips.

Class size does matter, especially for disadvantaged students, argues Northwestern Professor Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach in a summary of the academic literature.

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  1. I’m sure every homeschooling/afterschooling parent that reads about these results will think “duh.”
    Individualized teaching, i.e., tutoring, done by a relatively intelligent person is quite effective, and it doesn’t require that the tutor have formal training in classroom management or grading rubrics. Also, in large groups, kids tend to distract each other from focusing their thoughts on their academic work. Don’t schools implicitly recognize this by assigning homework and expecting parents to help their children figure it out and finish it? It sound like the MATCH tutors are a substitute for “afterschooling” parents.

  2. In some places, this could be done with even less cost. I know several retired engineers and high school teachers who tutor for minimal pay, mostly because they care about education and love their subjects. There are also SAHMs who were teachers, but don’t want to dedicate that much time to work. Part-time tutoring would likely appeal to them, too. I know that at one time my church tried to set up a tutoring program with a local school – it went well until they got a new principal. We had no shortage of people happy to spend 2 hours/week with that, and, when I talked to the retired ones, I found that some of them did in-school tutoring, too. Getting set up with a school was hard, but there were competent people willing to work for free.