Tutoring Program Supports High Schoolers Who Fall Behind During COVID-19
SAGA can add up to two years of math in a single year; new funding to expand program in Chicago and New York
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Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan visited tutors and students in the SAGA program at Bogan High School in Chicago.
SAGA Education, an intensive math tutoring program, has been proven to add up to two years of learning in math over a single school year for struggling high school students, which could have implications for students who have fallen behind in their classwork during the COVID-19 pandemic.
IPR economist Jonathan Guryan and experts from the University of Chicago’s Education Lab have been studying a partnership between SAGA Education and Chicago Public Schools. Their ongoing research shows that providing individualized, one-on-two math tutoring for an hour a day during the school day can substantially improve outcomes for high school students.
“We found that students who were offered the SAGA tutoring program had a significant increase in their math scores, which took them from about the 34 percentile to the 42 percentile nationally,” said Guryan, the Lawyer Taylor Professor of Education and Social Policy in SESP and co-director of the Education Lab.
The program’s success led the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Chicago Citadel Founder and CEO Ken Griffin to donate $6 million to support SAGA tutoring in New York City and Chicago public schools for the 2020-21 academic school year. The program will support 1,600 high school students from under-resourced schools in both cities. In Chicago, 600 new students in five schools will have access to tutoring, bringing the total served by SAGA to 2,120 students in 20 schools.
In a recent blog post highlighting resources that could help students get into college during the COVID-19 era, Bill Gates cited SAGA’s tutoring program. He warned that if educators and others do not look ahead and support high school students, the coronavirus could “permanently derail the dreams of hundreds of thousands of young people.” The Gates Foundation funding will provide 28 SAGA tutors for six high schools in New York City who will work with 2,000 ninth graders over the next two years.
“The individualized supports that a program like SAGA tutoring offers has the potential to help narrow the inequities in education that are resulting from COVID-19,” Guryan explained.
Those inequities include narrowing the achievement gap in under resourced schools. Guryan and his colleagues have previously recommended a national scale-up of the tutoring program, which appears timely given how far behind students have fallen during the pandemic, according to research.
In the tutorials, two students are paired with a single tutor for a daily, 50-minute class period in which tutors can meet each student at their level of knowledge, amounting to as many as 150 hours of individualized instruction per academic year. SAGA has stated they are exploring a range of possibilities to support their students amid the pandemic, including virtual tutoring.
Guryan and his colleagues are currently working on a new study evaluating the tutoring program in Chicago Public Schools.
Jonathan Guryan is the Lawyer Taylor Professor of Education and Social Policy and an IPR fellow.
Photo credit: SAGA Education
Published: September 18, 2020.