Impacts of Blended Learning Tutoring Models on Math Achievement After COVID-19
Results from Saga Education
- Online tutoring models have promise, especially when it is challenging to hire in-person tutors.
- Saga improved student math performance on some end-of-course exams and improved student math grades.
- Students may benefit the most from intensive tutoring if they have lower prior achievement in that subject area. More research is needed to understand whether smaller group sizes may drive larger impacts for tutoring programs.
- Technology-driven tutoring programs can continue to find ways to improve student engagement.
We conducted an impact and implementation analysis of Saga Education’s (Saga) high-dosage, online, in-person, and hybrid “blended” tutoring models in three school districts across the United States during the 2021–2022 school year, when schools were still struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic and its repercussions for student learning. Saga’s blended tutoring models alternated individual online math practice with student tutoring in small groups provided by an in-person or remote tutor. We used a matched comparison design to compare students who participated in Saga with similar students within their school districts who did not participate in Saga. We also conducted a descriptive analysis to understand facilitators and barriers to program implementation and effectiveness. We found that Saga had a large, positive impact on student algebra standardized test scores in one district and on geometry standardized test scores in another but no effects on two other standardized tests. Saga also had positive effects on student math grades across districts and models. The impacts of Saga on math performance were larger for students in schools with fewer staffing challenges and tutoring groups of two students or fewer. Saga also had larger impacts on students with lower prior achievement in math and Black students. Finally, Saga had a small, negative impact on school attendance and some Saga staff reported challenges with maintaining student engagement. More research is needed to rigorously compare the effectiveness of online versus in-person models, and to understand whether smaller group sizes may drive larger impacts for tutoring programs.