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Examining the features of high school peer-powered tutoring centers

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Title:
Examining the features of high school peer-powered tutoring centers
Creator:
Koselak, Jeremy
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
University of Colorado Denver
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English

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Degree:
Doctorate ( Doctor of education)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
School of Education and Human Development, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
Leadership for educational equity
Committee Chair:
Chistensen, James
Committee Members:
Fulmer, Connie
Many, Thomas

Notes

Abstract:
This Doctoral Research Project examines the features of peer powered tutoring centers through the lens of research and a cross-case analysis of four Colorado high schools at various stages of implementation. Based on research and field experience, the features proposed to be most essential for a successful centralized peer tutoring model include: (a) peer tutors as mentors and academic coaches, (b) tutor preparation and support, (c) tutoring center dynamics, (d) integration with effective collaborative teacher teams, and (e) integration with embedded, academically structured study skills class. This cross-case study sampled perceptions about the proposed features (and more) from those in the field and gauged the presence of and value placed upon evidence-based practices across four partner sites. Taken together, the study is being used to inform quality improvement with the four partner sites by integrating descriptive and quantitative analysis of data from peer tutor surveys, surveys of teachers from collaborative teams connected to tutoring centers, surveys of building administrators, artifact collection, and interviews with tutoring center directors. The findings highlight how the feature of tutoring centers interact together to keep freshmen on track to graduate and demonstrated that practitioners believe centralized peer tutoring to be effective when the features are intentionally implemented.

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University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
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Copyright Jeremy Koselak. Permission granted to University of Colorado Denver to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.

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Full Text
EXAMINING THE FEATURES
OF HIGH SCHOOL PEER-POWERED TUTORING CENTERS
by
JEREMY KOSELAK B.A., Indiana University, 1999 M.A., University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, 2004
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education Leadership for Educational Equity
2019


©2019
JEREMY KOSELAK ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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This thesis for the Doctor of Education degree by
Jeremy Koselak has been approved for the Leadership for Educational Equity Program by
James Christensen, Chair Connie Fulmer Thomas Many
Date: May 18, 2019
m


Jeremy Kosleak (EdD, Leadership for Educational Equity)
Examining the Features of High School Peer-Powered Tutoring Centers Thesis directed by Professor James Christensen
ABSTRACT
This Doctoral Research Project examines the features of peer powered tutoring centers through the lens of research and a cross-case analysis of four Colorado high schools at various stages of implementation. Based on research and field experience, the features proposed to be most essential for a successful centralized peer tutoring model include: (a) peer tutors as mentors and academic coaches, (b) tutor preparation and support, (c) tutoring center dynamics, (d) integration with effective collaborative teacher teams, and (e) integration with embedded, academically structured study skills class. This cross-case study sampled perceptions about the proposed features (and more) from those in the field and gauged the presence of and value placed upon evidence-based practices across four partner sites. Taken together, the study is being used to inform quality improvement with the four partner sites by integrating descriptive and quantitative analysis of data from peer tutor surveys, surveys of teachers from collaborative teams connected to tutoring centers, surveys of building administrators, artifact collection, and interviews with tutoring center directors. The findings highlight how the feature of tutoring centers interact together to keep freshmen on track to graduate and demonstrated that practitioners believe centralized peer tutoring to be effective when the features are intentionally implemented.
The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication.
Approved: James Christensen
IV


DEDICATION
This research project is dedicated to the thousands of peer tutors in high school tutoring centers across the country who have made a positive difference in the lives of countless freshmen. The tutoring center model would not be possible without you!
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I appreciate the support from the committee, who helped guide me through this extensive and at times unwieldy project. A special thanks to Mary Piontek who helped me bring the results sections together. Thanks to the participants in the study, especially the tutoring center directors who provided their time and insights, all to help improve this model. Finally, I want to thank my family and my wife, Laura, who supported and encouraged me throughout.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER
I. INTRODUCTION...........................................................1
Description of the High School Tutoring Center Model....................2
Purpose of the Study and Research Question..............................6
Methods Overview........................................................6
Partner Sites as Context................................................7
Role of Researcher......................................................7
Equity Language.........................................................8
II. LITERATURE REVIEW.....................................................9
Brief History of Peer Tutoring as Evidence-Based Practice...............9
Conceptual Framework of Peer Tutoring Models in High Schools...........11
Feature 1 - Peer Tutors as Mentors and Academic Coaches................16
Feature 2 - Tutor Preparation and Support..............................23
Feature 3 - Tutoring Center Dynamics...................................24
Feature 4 - Integration with Effective Collaborative Teacher Teams.....32
Feature 5 - Integration with Embedded, Academically Structured Study
Skills Class...........................................................36
Summary................................................................37
III. METHODS.............................................................39
Research Design........................................................39
vii


Propositions
40
Data Sources and Collection....................................................46
Setting........................................................................47
Data Sources...................................................................53
Descriptive Analysis...........................................................56
Data Analysis Procedures.......................................................58
Member Check and Quality Improvement Process...................................59
IV FINDINGS......................................................................61
Organization of Findings from Data Analysis....................................62
Descriptive Characteristics of Population and Participants.....................65
Addressing the Research Questions..............................................73
Research Question 1 Findings...................................................74
Most Critical Features of Tutoring Centers Based on Practitioner Perceptions..74
Feature 1 — Peer Tutors as Mentors and Academic Coaches.......................78
Feature 2 — Tutor Preparation and Support .....................................86
Feature 3 — Tutoring Center Dynamics...........................................95
Feature 4 — Integration with Effective Collaborative Teacher Teams............103
Feature 5 — Integration with Embedded, Academically Structured
Study Skills Class............................................................115
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Effectiveness of Tutoring Centers
124


Research Question 2 Findings.................................................135
Obstacles..................................................................135
Improvement Ideas and Growth Opportunities.................................139
V DISCUSSION.................................................................146
Research Question 1 - Review of Findings.....................................148
Feature 1 - Peer Tutors as Mentors and Academic Coaches...................148
Feature 2 - Tutor Preparation and Support..................................153
Feature 3 - Tutoring Center Dynamics.......................................156
Feature 4 - Integration with Effective Collaborative Teacher Teams........159
Feature 5 - Integration with Embedded, Academically Structured Study Skills Class......................................................................161
Effectiveness of Tutoring Centers..........................................163
Research Question 2 Review of Findings.......................................166
Conclusions and Recommendations..............................................170
Feature 1 - Peer Tutors as Mentors and Academic Coaches...................171
Feature 2 - Tutor Training and Support....................................172
Feature 3 - Tutoring Center Dynamics.......................................174
Feature 4 - Integration with Effective Collaborative Teams.................176
Feature 5 - Integration with Embedded, Academically Structured Study Skills Class......................................................................179
IX


Research Question 2 - Innovations to Improve Effectiveness
181
Future Research............................................................187
Summary....................................................................190
REFERENCES........................................................................197
APPENDIX
A. On-Time Graduation Rate Trends at Central High School 2010-2015........209
B. On-time Graduation Rate Change over time (Slope) and Demographic Changes.....210
C. Updated Graduation Rates at Central High School 2010-17................211
D. On-Time Graduation Rates at North High School 2010-17..................212
E. On-Time Graduation Rates at West High School 2010-17...................213
F. On-Time Graduation Rates at East High School 2010-17...................214
G. Peer Tutor Survey......................................................215
H. PLC Survey for collaborative teacher teams connected to the tutoring centers.218
I. School Administrator Survey of Peer-Tutoring Centers...................220
J. Tutoring Center Director Interview.....................................223
K. Peer Tutor Training Schedule...........................................226
L. Peer Tutor Performance Expectation Rubric..............................236
M. Administrator perspectives and rates of ‘don’t know’ responses for PLC
integration................................................................237
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LIST OF TABLES
TABLE
1.1. Five features of high school peer-powered tutoring centers...........................5
3.1. Peer tutors as mentors and academic coaches, essential elements.....................41
3.2. Tutor preparation and support, essential elements...................................42
3.3. Tutoring center dynamics, essential elements........................................43
3.4. Integration with effective collaborative teacher teams, essential elements..........44
3.5. Integration with embedded, academically structured study skills class,
essential elements..................................................................45
3.6. DRP data sources aligned to examine the five features of high school tutoring centers...46
3.7. Profile of the four DRP sites as of the Spring of 2018..............................48
3.8. Incoming freshmen student data across the four sites, from 8th grade................52
4.1. Populations of peer tutors, directors, teachers, and administrators across four schools.65
4.2. Racial demographics of peer tutor population across four cases......................67
4.3. Peer tutor survey participation rates...............................................68
4.4. Grade-level composition of peer tutor survey respondents across the four schools....69
4.5. Experience level of peer tutors who participated in the survey across schools.......70
4.6. Subject area breakdown of teachers who participated in the survey...................73
4.7. Tutor perceptions about what makes the tutoring center work, by most
common themes.......................................................................76
4.8. Tutor perceptions about the purposes of peer tutoring, organized by most
common themes.......................................................................79
4.9. Tutor perceptions about effective strategies, organized by most common themes.......84
4.10. Peer tutor perceptions of being prepared and supported by school (proxy measures)......87
4.11. Peer tutor perceptions regarding tutoring as a positive experience,
paired samples t-test across cases.................................................88
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4.12. Peer tutor perceptions about preparation and support, by school.....................90
4.13. Highest ranked aspects of tutor training by peer tutors (forced choice).............91
4.14. Administrator perceptions about tutor training........................................94
4.15. Teachers from collaborative teams - perspectives on integration with tutoring centers
by school.............................................................................106
4.16. Teacher perceptions regarding integration between collaborative teams and
tutoring center, paired samples test across cases....................................108
4.17. Teachers from collaborative teams - perspective on integration with tutoring center
by subject area.......................................................................110
4.18. PLC teacher perceptions regarding use of common assessments with tutoring center,
paired samples test across subject areas..............................................Ill
4.19. Administrator Perspectives regarding PLC-tutoring center integration across
math and EL A teams...................................................................112
4.20. Administrator perceptions regarding integration between collaborative teams and
the tutoring center, paired samples test across subject areas........................113
4.21. Structure of access point to freshmen students, by school...........................116
4.22. Percent of freshmen ‘enrolled’ in the access point (study skills/study hall),
by school.............................................................................117
4.23. Tutoring center usage by freshmen (2017-18), by school...............................118
4.24. Arranging peer tutoring, rates of agreement among peer tutors, by site...............120
4.25. Peer tutor perspectives regarding ease of arranging access to students for tutoring,
paired t-test across schools..........................................................121
4.26. Administrator perspectives regarding student access (study hall/study skills class).122
4.27. Administrator perceptions regarding effectiveness of access point, paired t-test
across schools........................................................................122
4.28. Perceptions of participating peer tutors regarding academic and social helpfulness
of peer tutoring......................................................................126
4.29. Paired samples t-tests regarding peer tutor perceptions on helping students socially,
by sites..............................................................................127
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4.30. Peer tutor responses regarding making a difference and helping with their academics
and communication skills, by school..................................................128
4.31. Teacher perceptions regarding effectiveness, across cases..........................131
4.32. Teacher perspective of tutoring’s effectiveness, paired samples t-test by school
and subject area.....................................................................133
4.33. Administrator perspectives regarding tutoring center effectiveness..................134
4.34. Peer tutor perceptions of the biggest obstacles faced as peer tutors, by category...136
4.35. Peer tutor suggestions for improving the tutoring center, by theme and site.........140
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LIST OF FIGURES
FIGURE
1. Pyle’s peer tutor conceptual framework for middle & high schools (Pyle, 2015, p.10;
with permission from Pyle)........................................................12
2. Conceptual framework for high school peer tutoring................................14
3. Layered and convergent support model (with permission from Koselak & Lyall, 2016).30
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CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
Over thirty years ago, Benjamin Bloom conducted research on the academic impact of tutoring and found the results so powerful (generating gains 2 standard deviations above the control group), that he and his colleagues at the University of Chicago challenged schools and communities to solve the ‘2-sigma problem’ by creating or discovering efficient ways to provide interventions as effective as one-on-one tutoring to every student in the country (Bloom, 1984; Topping, 1998). Educators and researchers have since attended to this challenge in a variety of ways, one of which includes strategically deploying and examining the impact of peers as tutors in a variety of formats, groupings, dosage levels, target populations, age levels, and subject areas.
Peer tutoring, as this literature review will explore, has demonstrated consistently and with significant results over time that peer tutors are a powerful, cost-effective intervention regardless of grade level, content, dosage, format, or disability status (Bowman-Perrott, Davis, Vannest, Williams, Greenwood, & Parker, 2013; Dufrene, Reisener, Olmi, Zoder-Martell, McNutt, & Horn, 2010; Wexler, Reed, Pyle, East, & Barton, 2015). A2012 analysis of impact and costs of various education strategies by Education Endowment Foundation and Sutton Trust demonstrated that peer tutors were near the top of the highest impact, lowest cost strategies, producing six months of additional academic gains at the lowest cost possible for schools (feedback to pupils and meta-cognitive strategies were the top two strategies in their study, both of which are also natural components of intentional peer tutoring models) (Higgins, Kokotsaki,
& Coe, 2012).
While much of the attention to peer tutors over the past 30 years has focused primarily on elementary settings and tutoring students with disabilities, groups such as the National Drop Out
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Prevention Network and others have pointed out that tutoring in general, and cross-age peer tutoring in particular, is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve academic outcomes available to schools (Berliner & Casanova, 1988; Giesecke, Cartledge, & Gardner, 1993; Hedin, 1987; Levin, 1984; Martino, 1994, National Dropout Prevention Network, Supik, 1991).
Though peer tutoring is an evidence-based, cost-effective, scalable strategy worthy of implementing across high schools (as similarly noted by Gardner, Nobel, Hessler, Yawn, & Heron, 2007; Peters & Heron, 1993), many high schools don’t provide students timely access to this type of flexible, intentionally structured remedial academic support during the school day (Johnson, 2014; McCabe, 2000).
Utilizing peer tutors is a high-leverage strategy capable of answering Bloom’s 2-sigma challenge and addressing unique high school challenges because effectively empowering peer tutors is the type of strategy Many and Sparks-Many describe as being “complex—but not complicated—ideas that promote high levels of learning for all.. .(they) are research or evidence based and can be replicated, targeted, limited in scope, and focused on a school’s greatest area of need” (Many & Sparks-Many, 2015, p. 31). Taken together, peer tutoring promotes rigorous levels of learning and more time engaged with academic tasks in a sustainable manner, providing schools with a flexible, high-impact, low-cost model.
Description of the High School Tutoring Center Model
Leveraging peer tutors in high school tutoring centers offers an innovative approach to deploy peer tutoring in a sustainable, accessible, and highly effective manner. As noted by DuFour (2004) and Koselak and Lyall (2016), peer-powered tutoring centers provide on-demand tutoring all day, every day, embedded in the school day, through a ‘hub’ that coordinates supply (tutoring) and demand (academic and mentoring needs). This approach was developed to
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support freshmen in response to challenges specific to high schools. It has been field tested by practitioners, refined by teams of educators, and scaled across many high schools— revealing essential features of the model and generating helpful lessons about implementation (DuFour, 2004; Koselak & Lyall, 2016).
The need for such an approach could not be more pressing. Researchers and state education agencies alike have reached the consensus that we must work more intentionally to keep freshmen on track to graduate. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has opened the door for states to rethink accountability frameworks and many now include ‘Freshmen on Track’ status as a key measure of school success, and for good reason. Data from Massachusetts (2015) showed that students who failed any courses in 9th grade were four times more likely to drop out of school than those students that did not fail a class (Massachusetts Consolidated State Plan under ESSA, 2017). University of Chicago Consortium on School Research culled its extensive research on drop out risk factors and narrowed to a single high-leverage intervention opportunity—the 9th grade transition—noting that passing all classes as a freshman is highly correlated with graduating high school (Allensworth & Easton, 2005; Roderick, Kelley-Kemple, Johnson, & Beechum, 2014). Additional studies have shown around 70 to 80 percent of freshmen who fail a class, any class, will not graduate high school (Strategic Data Project, 2012). Based on these studies and recommendations, it would logically follow that high schools should do everything in their power to provide timely supports to ensure freshmen earn credits and remain on track to graduate.
Based on the premise that focusing on 9th grade is one of the keys to improving graduation rates (also noted by Balfanz, McPartland, & Shaw, 2002), this DRP focuses upon how centralized tutoring can support freshmen through the high school transition. The tutoring center
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model provides a powerful, evidence-based alternative to retention and remediation, including an array of potential supports identified as effective by Jimerson, Pletcher, and Kerr: individual enrichment strategies, promotion of specific academic and social skills, and systematic assessment strategies that guide ongoing instructional modifications and targeted intervention at the point of need (Jimerson, Pletcher, & Kerr, 2005).
When it comes to helping freshmen, passing Algebra 1 in particular remains an important threshold to graduating high school. In fact, a 2008 investigation into factors that contribute to California graduation rates showed that performance in Algebra 1 remains one of the best predictors of graduation rates: freshmen who passed Algebra 1 were more than twice as likely to graduate on time (Sliver, Saunders, & Zarate, 2008). Thus high schools focused on improving graduation rates will need to focus part of their supports upon helping freshmen succeed in Algebra 1 as it remains a gatekeeper to more advance mathematics and often presents considerable challenges for freshmen in general education curriculum.
The combination of evidence-based strategies described by Jimerson et al. (2005), practical experience in the field, and the effective tutoring structures described in the remainder of this literature review, highlights a set of five interdependent features of successful and sustainable peer tutoring in high schools (see Table 1.1). These features form the foundation of this research project by organizing the key aspects, structures, resources, and strategies of centralized peer tutoring. The features include: (a) peer tutors as mentors and academic coaches, (b) tutor preparation and support, (c) tutoring center dynamics, (d) integration with effective collaborative teacher teams (interchangeably referred to as Professional Learning Communities or ‘PLCs’ in this study), and (e) integration with embedded, academically structured study skills class.
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Table 1.1: Five Features of High School Peer-Powered Tutoring Centers
1. Peer Tutors as Mentors and Academic Coaches_________________
• Unidirectional, crossage format
• Peer-mediated
• Focused on a clear set of purposes
• Emphasize mentoring and relationships
• Differentiate and personalize to meet student needs
• Attention to tutor-student matching
• Provide structured choice as much as possible
• Empower student ownership of learning
Tutoring Strategies
• Interactive questioning
• Wait time, think time
• Scaffolding
• Targeted Feedback
• Error analysis
2. Tutor Preparation and Support
• Diverse and persistent recruiting that leads to variety, quantity, and quality of tutors
• Emphasize a clear set of purposes for tutoring
• Train tutors on questioning and feedback strategies through copious practice and role play
• Content support provided to tutors as part of initial and ongoing training
• Structured guidance and support
• Monitor tutoring sessions
• Provide frequent feedback and modeling sessions
• Incentivize, recognize, and celebrate tutors
3. Tutoring Center Dynamics
4. Integration with Effective Collaborative Teacher Teams
Collaborative communication across
networks
• Led by a champion who is 'respectfully relentless and relentlessly respectful'
• Empowered by integration with PLCs, study skills, and tiered support system
• Supported by administration, counselors, and departments
Environment (physical and cultural)
• Welcoming, positive, safe, and productive
• Open all day, nearly every day
• Open to all students and directive to those most in need
• Resources and materials readily available
Operational structures and processes
• Convergent use of data to identify and pull students
• Real time support linked to classroom formative assessment cycles
• Effective re-teaching & retesting/ revising procedures
• Flexible, variable dosage levels matched to student need
• Support more students with accessing grade level content
• Direct engagement and partnership with tutoring center(s)
• Utilize common formative assessment (CFA) cycle in partnership with tutoring centers)
• Focus on Essential Learning Outcomes (ELO’s, ideally skills-based, and/or standards/ proficiency based)
• Effective PLC practices in place with a focus on collaboratively examining student work to improve teaching and learning outcomes
• Explicit emphasis on improving Tier 1 instruction rather than overreliance on the tutoring centers as a ‘crutch’
5. Integration with Embedded, Academically Structured Study Skills___________________
• Direct engagement and partnership with tutoring centers)
• Embedded in the school day
• Distributed throughout the school day (offered all periods)
• Access to most freshmen, especially those with academic risk factors
• Flexible, floating curriculum (not missing core content while getting tutored)
• Structured guidance, advisory, monitoring, and accountability (grade checks, organizational skills and goal
setting/tracking taught)
• An academic focus (learning and working environment, homework assistance)


Purpose of the Study and Research Question
This Doctoral Research Project (DRP) proposes that high school tutoring centers, embedded in the school day, powered by peer tutors, integrated with effective collaborative teacher teams, and linked to a structured academic study skills class (freshmen seminar), are an effective, viable, and sustainable way to support freshmen through the high school transition. While each individual feature of the model is well supported in research literature, the tutoring center model is unique in the way it integrates the features together and ultimately functions as a ‘hub-like’ manner. Accordingly, the research questions this DRP seeks to answer are:
1. How do the procedures, systems, and resources within four high school tutoring centers work together and align with what research has found to be important for effective peer tutoring at the secondary level?
2. What ideas do practitioners at the four partner sites have for improving the peer tutoring center experience and outcomes?
Methods Overview
This DRP utilizes a cross-case analysis across four Colorado high school tutoring centers in the same school district to examine the features at depth while also informing ongoing quality improvement at the partner sites. The study integrates and interprets qualitative data gathered from peer tutor surveys, teacher team surveys, building administrator surveys, artifact collection, and interviews with tutoring center directors. The findings from the analysis are then examined through the lens of the five features of tutoring centers across the cases in combination with a thick narrative to help inform the quality y improvement process and guide other high schools with tutoring center implementation.
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Partner Sites as Context
This research project features four large high schools in a suburban district in Colorado (27,000 students) who are at various stages of implementing tutoring centers and are markedly different than one another in terms of demographics and incoming student risk factors. Each school’s tutoring center, led by at least one tutoring center director (teacher on special assignment), has approached the model with common features in mind, though implementation varies based on contextual variables and resource allocations at each site.
Role of Researcher
As the district’s system improvement specialist, this researcher plays a supportive, non-evaluative role with the tutoring centers in the district. However, the involvement of the researcher may not be perceived as neutral. In addition to the potential for the role having perceived authority, the researcher also has a close affiliation with the tutoring centers across the partner sites (e.g. I cofounded the model at Central High School and regularly provide support to all the centers with data and facilitation of their cross-district Professional Learning Community). It should be noted that the researcher is also a friend, confidant, and colleague to most of the tutoring center directors. Being an insider provides both pros and cons and efforts were made to mitigate the researcher’s influence upon the study outcomes. Throughout the study, the researcher frequently conducted member-checks with the partner sites to ensure the study narrative accurately captured their thoughts while also creating a culture of safeguards regarding their ability to speak freely. The process also involved recruiting colleagues to assist with coding and calibrating the qualitative data to improve the trustworthiness of the study. To protect anonymity beyond the quality improvement aspect of this study, two reports were generated: one including actual school names for quality improvement process (shared with
7


tutoring center team and school principals exclusively), the other with pseudonyms for purposes of the DRP formal report alone.
Equity Language
Identifying and working to eliminate school-based opportunity gaps rather than lamenting about student-centered achievement gaps is a core goal of the tutoring center model, though the language used by practitioners may not always align with this shift. For instance, how students who need extra help are described throughout the study may reveal some implicit biases and perhaps even an unwillingness to address inequities that are hard-wired into the education system. There are limits and issues with each term, including the following most commonly shared on surveys and heard during interviews: at-risk, marginalized, furthest from the opportunity, struggling, underprivileged, underprepared, and under-served. Rather than settling in on one term, this paper takes the stance that no single term is universally accepted as a way to describe students who suffer the most under the current educational systems. Thus, a variety of terms will be used in this project to reflect language used by practitioners in the four schools. Unfortunately, that language at times includes negative descriptions of students who are often most marginalized in the system as being ‘apathetic’, ‘disengaged’, and even ‘defiant’.
This project attempts to adopt a tone that captures common language of participants while also pushing towards more student-centered language that recognizes students as individuals who suffer under the opportunity gaps created by the education system and society at large.
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CHAPTER II
LITERATURE REVIEW
This literature review provides the rationale for the proposed five features of effective high school tutoring centers (as represented previously in Figure 1) by briefly covering the history of peer tutoring as an evidence-based practice, providing a revised contextual framework for situating high school peer tutoring models, examining in detail the impact of peer tutoring in secondary settings with a focus upon unidirectional cross-age formats for both tutors and tutees, delineating the features of peer tutoring that stand out as most effective, and articulating why peer tutoring works. The chapter then explores the emerging evidence around peer-powered tutoring center models, illustrates the connection to collaborative teacher teams, and reviews how guided study skills classes ensure access to high school freshmen during the school day.
Brief History of Peer Tutoring as an Evidence-Based Practice Peer tutors have been used, under the guidance of master teachers, as a cost-effective means of reaching more students under tight budgets and limited resources (Levine, Glass, & Meister, 1987; Wagner, 1982) and are likely the oldest, most durable, and widely utilized form of supplemental support for classroom education (Fashola, Slavin, Calderon, & Duran, 2001; Shanahan, 1998). Given the historically rich tradition of peer tutoring and how it has been examined through a variety of contexts, the research on the topic is accordingly diverse, covering more than 50-years as an evidence based practice across settings, contexts, ability levels and content areas (Cloward, 1967; Cohen, Kulik, & Kulik, 1982; Delquadri, Greenwood, Whorton, Carta, & Hall, 1986; Dufrene et al., 2010; Greenwood, Horton, & Utley, 2002; Hattie, 2009; Hattie, 2012; Mastropieri, Spencer, Scruggs, & Talbott, 2001; Mastropieri, Scruggs, Spencer, & Fontana, 2003; Mortweet, Utley, Walker, Dawson, Delquardi, Reddy, Greenwood, Hamilton, &
9


Ledford, 1999; National Tutoring Association 2002; S'aenz, Fuchs, & Fuchs, 2005; Topping, 2005; Wircenski, Sarkees, & West, 1990). From a broad perspective, research has consistently shown peer tutoring to be effective at improving academic and social outcomes for students receiving the help—the ‘tutee’ (Allen & Feldman 1972; Annis 1983; Benware & Deci 1984; Ginsburg-Block, Rohrback, & Fantuzzo 2006; Greenwood, Carta, & Hall, 1988; Griffin & Griffin 1998; Robinson, Schofield, & Steers-Wentzell 2005; Roscoe & Chi 2007; Topping 1996).
Providing even more evidence of the wide impact of peer tutoring, additional research has demonstrated a positive impact on both academic and non-academic factors, for both tutor and tutee. One of the earliest meta-analysis to include the impact of peer tutoring at the secondary level examined 65 independent evaluations of school tutoring programs and showed consistently positive effects on both academics and attitudes of those who receive tutoring (Cohen, Kulik, & Kulik, 1982). Cohen and colleagues found that tutors improved both their understanding of and attitude toward the content being tutored (Cohen et al., 1982).
Drawing similar conclusions, the meta-analysis by Bowman-Perrott and colleagues examined effects of peer tutoring across 26 single-case research experiments for 938 students in Grades 1-12 and found that peer tutoring is an effective intervention regardless of disability status, grade level, or dosage level (Bowman-Perrott et al., 2013). A more recent synthesis by Wexler and colleagues also showed positive effect of peer-mediated academic interventions across 13 studies of secondary struggling learners between 2000 and 2012 (Wexler et al., 2015). This review of studies boosted the case for peer tutoring at the secondary level to suggest that struggling secondary students can improve their reading comprehension and acquisition of content when provided peer mediated interventions, especially when a feedback component was included (Wexler et al., 2015).
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The literature, spanning several decades, consistently affirms peer tutoring as an evidence-based approach to improving academic and social outcomes across content areas, grade levels, and ability levels.
Conceptual Framework of Peer Tutoring Models in High Schools
Regarding formats of peer tutoring, researchers typically organize peer tutoring along distinct categories such as peer-mediated, reciprocal, near-age, cross-age, unidirectional, and heterogeneous (Topping, 2005). On a fundamental level, the main difference in peer tutoring format involves the flow of the tutoring process and how roles are assigned (unidirectional or reciprocal), the age differential (same-age or cross-age), and the setting/structure of the tutoring (classroom or centralized).
Cross-age unidirectional tutoring, while less studied than reciprocal near-age tutoring, has been demonstrated to be more effective than other formats. For example, in Hartley’s 1977 study of the effectiveness of various instructional modes, she found that peer tutoring had the greatest impact of all conditions studied (d = 0.60) and noted that cross-age tutoring (d = 0.79) was even more effective than same-age tutoring (d = 0.52) (Hartley, 1977). Similarly,
Bernstein, Boquiren, and Cho (1997) demonstrated higher impacts from cross-age tutoring (also referred to as Heterogeneous Peer Tutoring or ‘HPT’) (Bernstein, Boquiren, & Cho, 1997). A 2010 meta-analysis also confirmed these findings, suggesting that unidirectional, cross-age peer tutoring has the highest mean effect size as compared to reciprocal tutoring, same-age approaches, computer assisted, and even adult tutoring (Jun, Ramirez, & Cumming, 2010). One study of collegiate peer tutoring even suggested that peer tutors may have a greater impact than fully trained and vetted department tutors (Bailey, 2010). Summarizing these findings, unidirectional, cross-age tutoring is potentially more powerful than other formats and this model
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may be more practical at the secondary level due to structural and cultural considerations. Namely, unidirectional tutoring thrives when it is well monitored and implemented with intentionality (Wexler et al., 2015).
Few researchers have framed both reciprocal and unidirectional formats in a cohesive framework of secondary peer tutoring models. One framework, proposed by Pyle in 2015, attempted to include both formats (see Figure 1) as part of a dissertation project that was also
Figure 1: Pyle’s Peer Tutor Conceptual Framework for Middle & High Schools (Pyle, 2015, p.10; with permission from Pyle)
included in a meta-analytic review of peer tutoring with colleagues at Utah State University (Pyle, 2015; Wexler et al., 2015). Pyle’s conceptual framework for peer tutoring in middle and high schools focused on Classwide Peer Tutoring (CWPT) and targeted tutoring in the classroom through a two-column structure (see Figure 1). CWPT is often described as peer mediated, peer assisted, and same-age. It is typically reciprocal in nature (in which the role of tutor and tutee
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are alternated frequently), involves same-age peers working in heterogeneous groups (Hott, Walker, & Sahni, 2012), and utilizes structured processes like direct rehearsal, cue cards, and careful monitoring of the tutoring interactions (Maheady, Mallette, & Harper, 2006).
Targeted tutoring, by contrast, brings trained peers into a classroom to work with a preidentified group of students to receive support in a unidirectional format, involving either same-age or cross-age peers (Pyle, 2015). Unidirectional peer tutoring most typically utilizes crossage heterogeneous arrangements, partnering more highly skilled students to support students who are struggling with identified academic needs (Pyle, 2015). In a unidirectional framework, the tutors and tutees do not normally alternate roles and the tutors do not necessarily have to be a student in that particular class. The focus of Pyle’s dissertation was upon classroom-based peer tutoring (either reciprocal or unidirectional, in a class-wide or targeted manner) for students with learning disabilities in inclusive secondary classrooms.
Conceptualizing High School Peer Tutoring
Pyle noted the challenge high schools face with freeing up the schedules of older peers to be able to support freshmen on a regular basis (Pyle, 2015). To address this challenge, and to situate peer tutoring specifically into the high school context, this study proposes a modification to and expansion of Pyle’s conceptual framework to include a centralized, unidirectional, crossage format. Centralized Peer Tutoring (CPT) at the high school level brings together cross-age (usually juniors and seniors) peers in a structured and supervised setting to provide unidirectional tutoring to a targeted group of younger students (Koselak & Lyall, 2016). The sessions are typically focused on freshmen in small groups (either one-on-one or small groups of no more than three students per one tutor). Tutors, in the dual role of academic coach and mentor, are
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initially trained, monitored, and supported throughout the term by licensed teachers (often referred to as tutoring center ‘directors’).
It is understandable that researchers have not yet included this branch of the peer tutoring tree as part of previous conceptual frameworks, especially given the lack of empirical studies of the models. Class based peer tutoring models, which can be reciprocal (CWPT) or unidirectional (targeted) and can encompass same-age or cross-age peers, have maintained a broader appeal to classroom educators and researchers (Hott et al., 2012). Based on expanded use of and emerging evidence for peer tutoring across high schools, this DRP situates Centralized Peer Tutoring (CPT) alongside classwide and targeted models as a viable strand of a revised conceptual framework (see Figure 2).
Peer Tutoring in High Schools
Targeted (across classrooms)
Reciprocal, Peer Mediated
All students
Targeted
Directive to Some and Open to All
/ >
\ f N / \
Same-age Cross Age or Same Age Cross-age or Same Age
A A / \ V y
Figure 2: Conceptual Framework for High School Peer Tutoring
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While the delineation in Figure 2 gives the appearance that there are absolute demarcations between formats, peer tutoring in schools can be dynamic, adaptable, and potentially interwoven. For example, both targeted and centralized formats can involve same-age tutoring when same age tutors exhibit extraordinary maturity and skill. Additionally, effective unidirectional tutoring features high-quality pedagogy with extensive use of scaffolding and interactive questioning (as opposed to just having one more skilled student explaining things to a less skilled student). Effective unidirectional tutoring utilizes evidence-based learning principles and techniques in which the tutor is both an academic coach and mentor, building relationships with students while leading them toward greater understanding of material through scaffolded questioning and striving to get the student to ‘own their learning’.
An additional consideration is that each of these formats can be integrated in a variety of hybrid arrangements. For example, a centralized tutoring center model, in addition to providing tutoring in a centralized location, could train and outsource tutors to target specific students in pre-selected classrooms in a dynamic and responsive manner (as described by Gaustad, f992, and Koselak & Lyall, 20 f 6). This approach provides teachers a well-trained group of near-age peer tutors (one or more grade level difference) to provide unidirectional, targeted support directly to a specifically identified group of students.
This conceptual framework also situates peer tutoring as a way to restructure high schools through more inclusionary practices (Stenhoff & Lignugaris-Kraft, 2007; Okilwa & Shelby, 20f0; Wexler et al., 20f3; Pyle, 20f5) and expanded access to more challenging curriculum to those most underserved (Resnick & LeGall, f987; Martino, 1994). Centralized peer tutoring may also help disrupt existing hierarchies of teachers as the only purveyors of
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knowledge and support (Longwill & Kleinert, 1998). Effective peer tutoring at the secondary level can help disrupt opportunity gaps by facilitating access to more challenging content through a sustainable layer of flexible support (Martino, 1994). Peer tutoring can also form part of the support structure described by Resnick and LeGall (1987), whose research showed that providing intentional supports for high school students who are behind academically in more rigorous, grade-level content, provides an avenue to escape the remediation trap so many underserved students fall into (Resnick & LeGall, 1987).
Drawing similar conclusions for students with disabilities, Longwill and Kleinert (1998) reported peer tutoring as an evidence-based means to improve educational outcomes for students with varying ability levels and backgrounds because it plays a “pivotal role for all participants as educational restructuring in high schools increases and promotes greater general education class participation by and community inclusion of students with significant disabilities” (Longwill & Kleinert, 1998, p. 1). This restructuring empowers students to become both academic coaches and mentors to support each other through the high school experience.
Taken together, the literature demonstrates that intentionally structured peer tutoring, as both academic coaching and mentoring, can increase access to grade level and challenging course work because it provides real time, targeted support to help struggling students achieve at higher levels.
Feature 1 - Peer Tutors as Mentors and Academic Coaches
The presence of peer tutoring in high schools can help create a supportive culture of community inside of schools. For example, researchers have examined behavioral, social-emotional, and psychological benefits of peer tutoring, with notably positive effects upon tutor empathy and altruism (Yogev & Ronen, 1982), sense of self-concept, self-esteem, attitudes
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toward school, social confidence, and overall academic efficacy of both tutees and tutors (Fantuzzo, Davis, & Ginsburg, 1995; Ginsburg-Block & Fantuzzo, 1998; Heller & Fantuzzo, 1993; Roswal, Mims, Evans, Smith, Young, Burch, Croce, Horvat, & Block, 1995; Early, 1998; Sprinthall & Scott, 1989). The social outcomes of peer tutoring tend to be greater for those with a range of learning challenges, disabilities, and risk factors (Sprinthall & Scott, 1989; Carter, Cushing, Clark, & Kennedy, 2005; Carter, Sisco, Melekoglu, & Kurkowski, 2007; Carter, Moss, Hoffman, Chung, & Sisco, 2011) and for students who are generally underprepared (Wilmer, 2008). As demonstrated across the literature, the impact of peer tutoring goes beyond increased academic performance to also encompass a range of improved social outcomes perhaps because tutors serve a dual role as academic coach and mentor.
Impact Upon Peer Tutors and Beyond
Peer tutors are consistently shown to demonstrate solid academic gains greater than similar students who don’t participate in tutoring programs (Allen & Feldman 1972; Britz, 1989; Derrick, 2015; Early, 1998; Ginsburg-Block, Rohrback, & Fantuzzo, 2006; Goldschmid & Goldschmid 1976; Griffin & Griffin 1997, 1998; Robinson et al., 2005; Roscoe & Chi, 2007; Topping et al., 2004; Topping, 2005; White, 2000) even when the tutors don’t receive additional subject-specific instruction (Gartner & Riessman, 1994; Robinson et al., 2005). Tutors not only gain better understanding of the subject, they also tend to develop more positive attitudes toward the subject matter they tutor (Cohen, et al, 1982) and develop more effective learning strategies and social skills (Arco-Tirado, Fernandez-Martin, & Fernandez-Balboa, 2011). A 2014 article described two experiments in which participants studied reading passages under the impression they would either be taking a test on the passage or teaching it. Both groups were actually tested (no one did any actual teaching) and the students who were expecting to teach the material were
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better with constructing organized free recall responses and they answered more questions correctly (especially on main points) than did the group expecting to take a test (Nestojko, Bui, Kornell, & Bjork, 2014). These experiments highlight the potential benefits of preparing to teach something, a practice peer tutors engage in on a regular basis.
Noting the potential for peer tutoring to bolster leadership development among a diverse group of students, researchers Roscoe and Chi (2008) observed that while the effect sizes of peer tutoring may not exceed that of expert tutoring, peer tutoring provides unique and additional academic benefits because of the “tutor learning effect” (Roscoe & Chi, 2008, p. 322). The tutor learning effect, in which students learn from their own tutoring experience, has been noted across a range of tutoring formats, such as cross-age (Allen & Feldman, 1976), reciprocal (Fantuzzo, Riggio, Connelly, & Dimeff, 1989), and same-age (Annis, 1983). It has also been shown across subject areas, such as math (Sharpley, Irvine, & Sharpley, 1983), reading (Juel 1996), biology (Coleman, Brown, & Rivkin, 1997), history (Annis 1983), and psychology (Fantuzzo et al.
1989). By putting high school students to work as academic coaches and mentors, the benefits accumulate across the school. Given the important role of setting and supporting high expectations for disrupting inequity in our high schools, this attribute of peer tutoring has wide-ranging implications.
Notably, and increasingly relevant for educators seeking support with psychosocial development among struggling students, peer tutors do more than tutor content—they act as mentors and often inspire confidence in struggling students (Wilmer, 2008). In fact, Karsenty suggests that attention to affective factors are a major component to the success of tutoring models (Karsenty, 2010). Researchers Yogev and Ronen (1982) observed that students who tutor other students experience increased levels of altruism, empathy, and self-esteem as result of
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program participation (Yogev & Ronen, 1982). Similarly, Topping and Ehly (1998) concluded that a sense of pride and responsibility develops among tutors as they learn to be more nurturing toward their ‘tutees’ and that such improvements in attitude and motivation can increase a sense of belonging, commitment, self-confidence, empathy, and self-esteem (Topping & Ehly, 1998).
Contributing to the likelihood that peer tutoring can help our most at-risk students graduate while also improving overall graduation rates, several studies have shown that peer tutors improve their sense of belonging to schools (Cohen et al., 1982; Fantuzzo, King, & Heller 1992; Medway & Baron, 1977; Sprinthall & Scott, 1989), with an emphasis that peer and crossage tutoring alleviates the sense of non-belonging that drives many students to be ‘at-risk’ (Nazzal, 2002). Contributing to this body of evidence, Good, Halpin and Halpin (2000) pointed to peer tutoring as effective at increasing the tutor’s sense of belonging to the school in general and noted that feelings of attachment may increase retention rates, attendance rates, motivation, and overall measures of school success (Good, Halpin, & Halpin, 2000).
Additional evidence from researchers aligns with the equitable nature of peer tutoring, suggesting that tutors who are considered at-risk, underserved, and/or marginalized have successfully tutored others, with positive impacts for both tutors and tutees (Cohen, et al, 1982; Menikoff, 1999; Polirstok& Greer, 1986; White, 2000; Willis, Morris, & Crowder, 1972). Studies have also demonstrated that low-achieving African American, Puerto Rican, and White student tutors increased their own reading performance (Greer & Polirstok, 1982; Menikoff, 1999; Polirstok & Greer, 1986). Confirming the ability of peer tutoring to disrupt inequity in schools, researchers have identified academic and social benefits accruing for student tutors with low prior achievement (Sharpley et al. 1983) and with learning disabilities (Clowney, 1967; Osguthorpe & Scruggs, 1986).
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Considering the findings across the literature, the impact of peer tutoring is not limited to the student getting the help, nor is it limited to academics. Indeed, researchers have identified that the peer tutors themselves also benefit in their dual role of academic coach and mentor to include behavioral and social domains in addition to academics.
Why Peer Tutoring Works
Researchers seeking to situate peer tutoring as a developmental and social process note that its success is based largely on the quality of the social interaction (Fogarty & Wang, 1982; Lumpe & Staver, 1995), a concept traceable to Vygotsky’s notions of developmental change rooted in socio-cultural learning (Vygotsky, 1978). Indeed, Galbraith and Winterbottom (2011) framed the positive outcomes for peer tutors through the lens of role theory and socioconstructivist approaches to learning (Galbraith & Winterbottom, 2011). In this context, the gains experienced by tutors come about because their role motivates them to learn, the learning is reinforced by the recurring process of revisiting foundational materials, and the discussion, questioning, and explanation inherent to the tutoring process facilitates learning (Galbraith & Winterbottom, 2011). As tutors scaffold the learning of tutees, their own learning may also be scaffolded (Topping, 1996) and this metacognitive preparation may be further strengthened by the nature of tutoring in which conversation and socialization validate concepts and engage different approaches to learning and problem-solving methods (Galbraith, & Winterbottom, 2011).
The effectiveness of peer tutoring may also be enhanced through the socio-constructive influence, in which students are generally more open to working with peers than adults because they are closer in age/status and they communicate using similar language (Hedin, 1987; Cazden, 1986; Shadle, 2010). The closeness in age between near-age tutor and tutee tends to
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deemphasize the role of expert and encourages a more interactive and balanced tutoring process than commonly existing between student and adult expert (teacher) (Damon & Phelps, 1989; Grubbs & Boes, 2009). Similarly, Heterogenous Peer Tutoring (HPT) has been linked to improved communication and listening skills (Topping, 2005) because the process enhances problem solving strategies by facilitating peer-to-peer engagement (Worley & Naresh, 2014, p. 27).
In addition to the quality of the social interaction, peer tutoring effectively reduces class size to allow for one-on-one tutoring, resulting in increased time on academic tasks with frequent opportunities to respond and immediate feedback (Bowman-Perrott, et al., 2013). Typical peer tutoring interactions such as questioning and explaining have been shown to bolster student learning while also fostering reflective knowledge building (Roscoe, 2007). The fundamentals of peer tutoring—scaffolding and providing targeted feedback—are considered paramount for improving student outcomes (Franzke, Kintsch, Caccamise, Johnson, & Dooley, 2005; Jacobson, Thrope, Fisher, Lapp, Frey, & Flood, 2001; McKinstery & Topping 2003). Simply put, getting students to spend more time engaging with academic tasks while receiving targeted feedback at the point of error is a major source of peer tutoring’s power (Dufrene, et al., 2010; Greenwood et al., 1993). Researchers Hattie and Timperley (2007) also credit peer tutoring’s impact to the provision of supervised practice combined with more response opportunities and ongoing feedback (Hattie & Timperley, 2007). Each of these studies confirmed Bloom’s initial claims that tutoring’s fundamental power lies with the simple notions of active participation and immediate feedback (Bloom, 1984).
The meta-analysis by Wexler and colleagues (2015) bolster the findings of Bloom and others by demonstrating mostly moderate to high effects from peer tutoring, specifically noting
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an even greater impact when the tutoring included a peer-mediated feedback component (Wexler et al., 2015). Similarly, researchers Dufrene et al. (2010) showed that without a reciprocal feedback component, the tutoring intervention was compromised (Dufrene et al., 2010) and Wexler’s research team found minimal effects when poor pairing techniques in tutoring sessions weakened the quality of the tutoring (Wexler et al., 2015). In studying the impact of peer-mediated interventions, researchers found that incorporating a structuredfeedback component is the best way to improve reading comprehension and/or content acquisition at the secondary level (Gersten, Baker, Smith-Johnson, Dimino, & Peterson, 2006). As a natural component of training and monitoring, Gordon, the author of Peer Tutoring: A Teacher’s Resource Guide, also emphasized the importance of implementing peer-feedback sessions as a means of pooling the experience of tutors, rather than just relying on knowledge from the teacher (Gordon, 2005).
Researchers have also found that peer tutoring is more pedagogically significant when deployed in particular ways. For example, providing scaffolding and feedback during the sessions is effective for tutees (Franzke et al., 2005; Jacobson et al., 2001; McKinstery &
Topping 2003). Similarly, teacher-provided scaffolding and feedback directed toward peer tutors in real time, in combination with structured guidance, improves the effectiveness of tutoring sessions (Allen & Chavkin, 2004; Fisher, 2001; Jacobson, et al., 2001; Scammacca et al., 2007; Stenhoff & Lignugaris-Kraft, 2007; Vogelwiesche et al., 2006).
As noted across the studies, peer tutoring opens the doors for more personalized instruction without overburdening teachers and demonstrates that presenting alternative ways to approach an academic challenge is viable (Brittenham, Cook, & Hall, 2003; Wilmer, 2008). In fact, the more ways peer tutors can find to support struggling students the better, and this flexibility is a major factor in the success of students receiving remedial supports (McCabe,
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2003). Additional lessons can be gleaned from Bloom’s seminal 1984 study in which the research team noted several key techniques that improve tutoring effectiveness, each of which could be readily taught to peer tutors: finding something positive in every student’s response, engaging students more in the learning process, supplying feedback frequently, and continuously clarifying and using illustrations to clear up misconceptions (Bloom, 1984).
The literature taken together presents a host of reasons why and how peer tutoring works, including the ways in which it facilitates quality social interactions and increases time spent actively engaging with academic tasks while receiving targeted feedback at the point of error.
The literature also reveals the importance of training peer tutors and the potential benefits of a centralized, intentionally structured process for training tutors and delivering the tutoring to students.
Feature 2 - Tutor Preparation and Support
Training peer tutors has been noted by a host of researchers as an essential feature for successful models (Allen, 2011; Colvin, 2007; Fogarty & Wang, 1982; Gordon, 2005; Snell & Janney, 2000). When peer tutors in secondary settings are well-trained, prior to working with students and through regular embedded training sessions, results include a large effect on tutee academic outcomes (Stenhoff & Lignugaris-Kraft, 2007). Similarly, tutors trained in questioning techniques and general tutoring skills provided higher quality feedback correlated to better tutee outcomes (including increased motivation) than tutors trained in content knowledge alone (Hsiao, Brouns, Bruggen, & Sloep, 2015).
In a 2007 meta-analysis of tutoring’s impact on reading interventions for adolescent readers, Scammacca and colleagues reported a significant relationship between training peer tutors and improved student outcomes (Scammacca, Roberts, Vaughn, Edmonds, Wexler,
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Reutebuch, & Torgesen, 2007). By preparing ahead of time for tutoring sessions in a well-structured unidirectional model, tutors can clarify their own understanding and work through potential misconceptions in the process of anticipating errors of tutees (Koselak & Lyall, 2016; Nestojko et al., 2014).
Koselak and Lyall, in their examination of high school tutoring center implementation across sites, also emphasized the need to regularly and proactively recruit a diverse cadre of peer tutors, including a wide net of students from various demographic and educational backgrounds (Koselak & Lyall, 2016). The literature taken as a whole indicates that the more diverse and better trained are the tutors, the better the outcomes for students receiving the support.
Feature 3 - Tutoring Center Dynamics
Research by the National Association of Secondary School Principals adds further evidence that at-risk adolescents who participate in intentional, supervised, and well-thought out peer tutoring interactions show a host of benefits (Wircenski, Sarkees, & West, 1990). The benefits include improvements in grade point averages (GPAs), reading, writing, math, communication and study skills, self-confidence, interpersonal skills, and goal identification (Wircenski et al., 1990). Even in cases where tutors are minimally trained, the impacts are still encouraging when educators provide structured support and guidance alongside peer tutors (Allen & Chavkin, 2004; Fisher, 2001; Jacobson, et al., 2001; Vogelwiesche, Grob, & Winkler, 2006). Brophy and Good found that well-trained tutors are more encouraging and provide wider learning opportunities for students (Brophy & Good, 1970).
When implemented effectively, high school tutoring centers can efficiently provide an intentional, supervised, and well-thought out environment that maximizes the power of peer tutoring (DuFour, 2004; Koselak & Lyall, 2016). While not nearly as extensive as the body of
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evidence established in elementary school settings and for students with learning disabilities, research is emerging on more centralized approaches to peer tutoring in high schools (and colleges). Most of the early articles on centralizing peer tutoring have tended toward descriptive and narrative overviews of the model with anecdotal evidence (DuFour, 2004; Gaustad, 1992; Grant, Murphy, Stafford, & Childers, 1997; Jordan, 2006; Koselak & Lyall, 2016; Mowschenson, Joyal, & Weintraub 2009; Shadle, 2010).
In one of the earliest descriptions of cross-age, high school specific peer tutoring,
Gaustad described a pilot peer tutoring program at Willamette High School in Eugene Oregon, which paired academically strong students with at-risk freshmen. The peer tutors, trained in centralized manner, sat with freshmen in their classes and assisted them during ongoing class activities (Gaustad, 1992). The article did not include a robust quantitative analysis and the model focused on distributing tutors to classrooms. Looking more at a centralized provision of tutoring support (support that takes place in a central location instead of a classroom), writing centers provide a model that is common in colleges (and to a lesser extent in high schools). For example, noting that writing centers help tie together disparate departments in high schools with a common theme (writing across the disciplines), Jordan noted how one innovative high school model moved beyond the goals of its homegrown origins to become an agent of change for whole school reform (Jordan, 2006). Additionally, Grant, Murphy, Stafford, and Childers described initial positive findings of having peer tutors in writing centers, focused on formative assessments, and acting as ‘student liaisons’ (Grant, Murphy, Stafford, & Childers, 1997). This model of empowering peers to support other students was described by Grant et al. (1997) in theoretical terms as a means of disrupting existing structures and engaging “high school students
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as catalysts for change as they subvert traditional hierarchies and collaborate with their teachers as co-contributors to the teaching and learning process” (Grant et al., 1997, p. 103).
An additional attribute of the peer tutoring center model (and systematic interventions in general) is that it is ‘directive to some, and open to all’ (Dufour 2004; Koselak & Lyall, 2016) or in the case of rapid school improvement, ‘opt-out instead of opt-in’ (Allensworth & Hart, 2018). Grillo and Leist 2013 pointed out that even college versions of tutoring centers should be more than just ‘open to all’ because students with the greatest academic needs are less likely to choose to get help—thus the need for the ‘directive to some’ aspect of pulling students (Grillo & Leist 2013). Researchers Allensworth and Hart from the University of Chicago Consortium of School Research examined troves of quantitative and qualitative data across seven years (2007 to 2014) from about 600 elementary and secondary schools to confirm the importance of a directive model of systematic supports (Allensworth & Hart, 2018). Their analysis showed that schools can markedly increase standardized test scores when leaders create conditions in which the intervention system is universal, directive, and ‘opt-out’, as opposed to one in which students can choose to ‘opt in’ on their own (Allensworth & Hart, 2018).
In a 2009 article, Mowschenson, Joyal, and Weintraub described a Massachusetts high school with a tutoring center that deployed an academic support program for students with mild learning challenges in a mainstream structure (Mowschenson, Joyal, and Weintraub, 2009). The authors concluded that thoughtfully arranged peer tutoring appears to increase motivation to learn, improve academic performance, and incur long-term financial savings (Mowschenson et al., 2009). Similarly, in describing a Maryland high school that matched seniors as tutors with struggling underclassmen to improve state test scores, Shadle highlighted that peers can be effective as sources of learning because they may better relate to students than teachers (Shadle,
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2010). Research from Ontario also demonstrated a positive impact of peer tutors through a structured high school tutoring model known as PLANT (Peer Literacy and Numeracy Tutoring, as cited in Fullan, 2010). The PLANT initiative partnered upper-classmen with 9th and 10th graders, producing impressive results on high stakes exams and on classroom grades (Fullan, 2010).
These studies and narrative accounts of high school models help illustrate a variety of ways to deploy peer tutors, but they do not emphasize the features and structures that matter most for improving academic outcomes and credit acquisition. Collegiate tutoring center models, which include access to flexible peer tutoring, are more common than their high school counterparts and may provide relevant guidance for high school models (Grillo & Leist, 2013). As an example of a more centralized orientation at the college level, Mynard and Almarzouqi (2006) piloted a peer tutoring center modeled after Beasely’s center (Beasely 1997). Mynard and Almarzouqi (2006) noted the critical nature of emphasizing a clear purpose behind the process for both tutors and tutees, in addition to trainings focused on tutoring strategies and language practice initially and throughout tutor development (Mynard & Almarzouqi, 2006). Allen similarly described critical features underlying successful peer tutoring models, noting the importance of establishing clear goals for peer tutors, training them well, and monitoring results (Allen, 2011).
Tutoring Center as a Hub of Resources and Tiered Support
Based on intensive work with implementing tutoring centers and guiding quality improvement across many high schools, Koselak and Lyall (2016) presented case studies in which schools provide the right combination of training, support, and feedback to empower peer tutors to academically coach and mentor freshmen through the high school transition (Koselak &
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Lyall, 2016). Based on case studies presented by Koselak and Lyall, highly effective tutoring centers function as a tiered hub of resources and supports and they provide for a welcoming, productive and safe environment (physical and cultural). The centers also promote collaborative communication across networks and maintain operational structures and processes that keep freshmen on track to graduate.
According to Koselak and Lyall, the most dynamic and effective tutoring centers are led by at least one champion (tutoring center director) who is ‘respectfully relentless and relentlessly respectful’ (Many & Sparks-Many, 2015)—meaning the best centers embody the mindset of the leader(s) by not giving up on students and maintaining a high level of expectations blended with empathy (Koselak & Lyall, 2016). In addition to being fierce advocates for students furthest from the opportunity, tutoring center directors act more as entrepreneurs and facilitators of resources (tutors) than a typical classroom teacher does. This unique role calls for strong leadership skills and the ability to collaborate across networks (student to tutor, tutor to teacher, student to teacher, center to teacher teams, center to counselor, center to administration) to build a culture of collective responsibility for the success of all freshmen. As is true for the success of most important work in education, getting the right person(s) in place is key for the model to thrive (Koselak & Lyall, 2016).
Koselak and Lyall (2016) described the daily, monthly, and yearly routine of tutoring centers as markedly different than classrooms, including variable dosage levels of tutoring based on the convergent use of data. Namely, tutoring centers experience busy periods and slow periods based on the common assessment schedules across core classes and prioritization of supports provided to students with the greatest needs. These ‘ebbs and flows’ can be anticipated based on extensive communication with teachers and through careful and convergent use of
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assessment and data. The slower times allow time to train tutors, preventatively intervene by front-loading skills support for struggling students, and network with teachers, counselors, and administrators to ensure students do not slip through the cracks.
Operational Structures and Processes
In addition to the importance of the physical and cultural environment and collaborative communication across networks, the operational side of tutoring centers typically includes structures and processes that optimize efficiencies and impact. Three core operational structures and processes were identified by Koselak and Lyall (2016) that are believed to be essential to running the center effectively, including: (a) how students are identified for support, (b) how they are pulled for help, and (c) the process for re-teaching, reengaging, revising, rewriting, and/or retesting.
The first core process described by Koselak and Lyall is determining who needs help and prioritizing resources and time to meet those needs (Koselak and Lyall, 2016). Depending on the stage of implementation, tutoring centers may use a layered, convergent approach to identify which students need help and then prioritize supports based on extensive data integration as demonstrated in Figure 3. This process mirrors a medical ‘triage’ model in which student tutors provide the ‘front line’ of supports and teachers provide more intensive assistance to the students facing the greatest challenges.
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r ^
Preventative Support
Responsive Support
Reteach & revisions
Retest & rewrite
Mentoring & motivation
Salvage and Recovery
Figure 3: Layered and Convergent Support Model (Koselak and Lyall, 2016)
High school tutoring centers are designed to sustainably provide a preventative layer of
support based on incoming 8th grade data points (homework help, skill development, test prep, mentoring, organization), a responsive layer (based on real time data, re-teaching, retesting, revising, mentoring and motivation), and a ‘salvage and recovery’ (using risk indicators to prioritize classes students can pass at the end of a semester and credit recovery modules). This convergent and layered model of supports helps ensure supports are targeted to those most in need at the point of struggle based on the most recent and relevant data (Koselak & Lyall, 2016). The convergent use of data and assessment was also championed by Buffum and Mattos as part of a systematic approach to secondary Rtl (Buffum & Mattos, 2011). Koselak and Lyall described the convergent process as means for high schools to identify incoming freshmen based on 8th grade risk data then throughout the year to help prioritize supports to students most in need based on a narrowing set of “at-risk” data factors (such as standardized tests, GPA, attendance, behavior, common assessments, etc.) (Koselak & Lyall, 2016). The convergent use of data in tutoring centers has evolved in recent years through the development, refinement, and strategic
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use of Early Warning Systems (EWS) that are being shown to be powerful ways to monitor and keep freshmen on track (featured as an evidence-based practice by What Works Clearinghouse’s report on “Preventing Dropout in Secondary Schools”, Rumberger, et al, 2017).
The second core process involves the actual method of pulling students. Pulling students from study skill or study hall classes typically involves a group of peer tutors and/or the tutoring center directors going to the study skills class with a predetermined list of students to pull that period. In addition to calling for specific students for directive support, tutors or the directors may also offer help to anyone else in need of help. This combination of being ‘open to all and directive to some’ helps establish a more welcoming and less stigmatizing culture in tutoring centers (Koselak & Lyall, 2016).
The third core process involves the means of re-teaching, revising, rewriting, and retesting. Because high school grades are often weighted heavily towards assessments and projects, it is imperative that tutoring centers establish efficient and effective re-teaching and retesting/rewriting structures (Koselak & Lyall, 2016). Namely, experience with centers at various stages of implementation has shown that a retesting cycle for mathematics should include time for guided error analysis, guided practice that fades to independent practice and an independent retake of a similar assessment. The process typically takes between 2-4 days and the collaborative teacher team (i.e. PLC) often works with the tutoring center director to establish clear expectations around what score is a reasonable ‘cap’ for those who retake the assessment. As is true with nearly every other aspect of the model, the tutoring center director is charged with maintaining effective flows of resources and channels of communication with teachers to ensure the integrity of the retesting/rewriting process.
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Taken together, the emerging body of research combine with compelling case studies from the field to suggest that tutoring centers can serve as a hub and provide enabling conditions to optimize the impact of peer tutors as academic coaches and mentors. By functioning as a centerpiece of tiered interventions and resources, tutoring centers provide a welcoming physical and cultural environment that leverages collaborative conversations across networks and can deploy effective and efficient operations to keep freshmen on track to graduate.
Feature 4 - Integration with Effective Collaborative Teacher Teams Teachers working in collaborative teams have become an essential aspect of school improvement models across the educational landscape and are nearly ubiquitous at the high school level (Marzano, Heflebower, Grift, & Warrick, 2016). Called by various names (such as Professional Learning Teams and Communities of Practice), this study will use two terms interchangeably because they are the common parlance among the four schools involved in this study: collaborative teacher teams and Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). One of the more successful tutoring center models, located at Adlai Stevenson High School in Illinois, intentionally connected daily tutoring during guided study halls with the intentional work of collaborative teacher teams (with particular attention to team-developed, short-cycle common formative assessments based on a set of essential learning outcomes) (DuFour, DuFour, Eaker & Many, 2010). Their intentional approach required that most freshmen be scheduled in a study hall to ensure timely access to targeted tutoring throughout the school day. In addition, for those struggling the most, the support is required. Adlai’s tutoring center model significantly informed the development of the model featured in this project’s case studies. When high functioning teacher teams partner directly with tutoring centers, the reciprocal nature of the relationship
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combines to provide real time support to students based on collaboratively agreed upon learning outcomes (DuFour et al., 2010; Koselak & Lyall, 2016).
The type of meaningful collaboration on display at Adlai Stevenson that takes full advantage of peer tutoring does not occur by chance. Teams need to be high functioning and there are certain dispositions and practices of PLCs that have been shown to positively impact teaching and learning. In a review of literature about the structures and activities that leaders cultivate best propel teacher learning in collaborative teams, Newmann and colleagues (1996) confirmed five essential attributes: “1) shared norms and values regarding beliefs about student’s ability to learn, effective use of time and space, and roles of stakeholders; 2) consistent focus on student learning; 3) reflective dialogue leading to extensive and continuing conversations among teachers about curriculum, instruction, and student development; 4) deprivatization of practice and 5) intentional focus on collaboration” (Newmann et al., 1996, p. 182).
Confirming the importance of intentional collaboration and deprivatization of practice, Woodland and Mazur (2015) analyzed a high school English Language Arts team at considerable depth to conclude that school leaders are responsible for creating and sustaining conditions that facilitate best practices of collaborative teams. The practices that empower deprivatization include disciplined collaboration focused on student outcomes from common assessments (Woodland & Mazur, 2015). In alignment with previous studies of teacher collaboration, Bolam and colleagues emphasized that teachers engaged in deliberate, collective inquiry build their capacity to optimize professional learning of the entire school community with the purpose of improving student learning (Bolam, McMahon, Stoll, Thomas, & Wallace, 2005). Teacher teams who focused on improving instructional strategies as measured through a common set of student data were more likely to see improved student achievement (Supovitz, 2002; Supovitz &
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Christman, 2003), and as Vescio and colleagues note a “pervasive attention to meeting the learning needs of students” stands out across the studies as the backbone of effective PLCs (Vescio et al., 2008, p. 88).
Integration with Tiered Interventions
To fully empower the PLC model, high schools should focus on developing systematic and tiered interventions (especially for freshmen). For example, Buffum and Mattos proposed the ‘4 C’s of Response to Intervention (Rtl)’, which systematically integrate PLCs with tiered interventions to ensure collective responsibility, concentrated instruction, convergent assessment, and certain access (Buffum & Mattos, 2011). When tutoring centers are aligned and integrated with effective teacher teams through these ‘4 Cs of RtF, the synergy leads to collectively narrowing the curricular focus to essential learning outcomes, using formative assessment and relevant data in a convergent manner to target supports to students most in need, and providing certain access to students during the school day (without missing core content) (DuFour et al., 2010; Koselak & Lyall, 2016).
Further demonstrating the potential of Rtl at the high school level, enhancing grading and assessment practices in conjunction with tiered interventions have been shown to significantly improve academic outcomes (Fisher & Frey, 2013). Researchers Fisher and Frey (2013) spent two years in a high school deeply analyzing the impact of implementing a deliberate and comprehensive Rtl model (without a tutoring center component) and found the integration of certain features coincided with significant increases in GPAand attendance rates at the school, especially for students living in poverty and those with disabilities. Their study concluded that successful tiered models of support at the high school level should: (a) focus on quality core instruction (at tier 1), (b) use course competencies (standards-based or proficiency based
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grading) to monitor student progress, (c) schedule intervention to supplement, not supplant, core instruction, (d) dedicate resources to support intervention efforts, and (e) adopt a school-wide approach to RTI to maximize intervention impact (Fisher & Frey, 2013). The study also noted the time consuming and costly nature of sustaining systematic interventions and maintaining a relentless focus on tier 1 (core classroom). While the Fisher and Frey study did not specifically include a tutoring center model, the findings confirm the importance of sustainably focusing on school wide intervention models that do not pull students from core instruction. The study also affirms the impact of utilizing proficiency/standards-based grading structures to pinpoint areas of concern by student name and need while simultaneously ensuring high-quality tier 1 (core classroom) instruction.
Tutoring centers are well situated to support teams with implementing and succeeding with standards-referenced (or ‘proficiency-based’ or ‘competency-based’) grading and assessment. Koselak and Lyall described a 10th grade math team that successfully integrated a more deliberate approach to assessment and grading with a systematic tutoring center model, even without a strong study skills access point (Koselak & Lyall 2016). The math team they studied organized the assessments and instruction around ‘Big Ideas’, established clear criteria for proficiency, and partnered closely with the tutoring center to provide re-teaching and retesting opportunities targeted directly to students struggling with the ‘Big Ideas’. The self-contained and highly structured nature of the re-teaching made the effort more sustainable for educators and was associated with increased rates of passing math class and improved growth on the state’s standardized assessment (Koselak & Lyall, 2016).
The literature involving PLCs suggests that teacher teams who closely and collaboratively examine the impact of their teaching through the lens of a common set of student
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data/student work samples see the greatest gains. Additional evidence suggests that when collaborative teacher teams also partner with systematic interventions like centralized peer tutoring, the impact upon student learning can be accelerated as schools build their collective capacity to keep freshmen on track to graduate college and career ready.
Feature 5 - Integration with Embedded,
Academically Structured Study Skills Class The transition to high school is challenging for a host of reasons (Smith, Akos, Lim, & Wiley, 2008) and can lead to an increase in many risk factors that may result in students dropping out (Cooper & Liou, 2007; Fritzer & Herbst, 1996). Placing freshmen into a guided academically structured study hall can help mitigate some of those challenges by providing timely and focused support to freshmen to help them earn credits (Butts & Cruzeiro, 2005). In fact, the Adlai Stevenson model described previously depended heavily upon linking guided study halls with tutoring by teachers and peers (Dufour, 2004) as did the model showcased in Koselak and Lyall (2016).
For the dynamic interplay of centralized peer tutoring and PLCs to work, educators must be able to access students during the school day without missing core classes. If access to timely academic supports embedded into school day is lacking for freshmen, it is unlikely tutoring center models will disrupt the opportunity gaps facing our most marginalized student groups (Koselak & Lyall, 2016). Placing freshmen in academic study halls based on a variety of risk factors provides a structured access point and may result in improved academic outcomes (McIntosh, & White, 2006). Structured study halls that feature tutoring support have been demonstrated to improve homework completion by practitioners in the field (Education World, 1996). Similarly, freshmen study halls focused on homework completion, with clearly
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established expectations, have been linked to improved levels of credit acquisition and GPAs (Dicken, Foreman, Jensen, & Sherwood, 2008). In addition to homework support, study halls with tutoring help to increase the focus level of distracted adolescents and provide necessary resources and support for students who may otherwise lack similar opportunity at home (Reach & Cooper, 2004). The focus level of students may also be accelerated when the study hall takes on more an advisory tone (with close monitoring by teachers), leading to improved academic outcomes for middle and high schoolers (Mayer & Tucker, 2010).
While not as extensive as the research on peer tutoring or PLCs, the emerging literature on academic study halls (advisory, guided study skills, etc.) suggests that freshmen students— especially those at risk academically—need extra supervision and structures that encourage them to complete homework and get targeted academic support during the school day.
Summary
With its extensive research basis, peer tutoring has a proven track record of improving academic and social outcomes for both tutor and tutee, and very well could be a sustainable response to Bloom’s 2-sigma challenge when implemented well. As described throughout this literature review, researchers consistently point to what quality peer tutoring should look like (e.g. scaffolding, timely specific feedback, encouragement, and mentoring), and what it takes to ensure peer tutoring is implemented well (e.g. clear purpose, initial and ongoing training focused on quality questioning and encouragement, monitoring impact and regular feedback mediated by peers and teachers). Bringing peer tutors together in a centralized model, with monitoring, intentional training, and feedback, may be particularly advantageous for high schools seeking to disrupt inequitable outcomes and ensure more freshmen start off well and remain on track to graduate. Tutoring centers seemingly function as a hub of tiered supports that relies upon
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collaborative communication and healthy relationships across networks of teams and individuals. Evidence is emerging that the success of tutoring centers depends upon the thoughtful integration of all five features referenced in this literature review: (a) peer tutors as mentors and academic coaches, (b) tutor preparation and support, (c) tutoring center dynamics, (d) integration with effective collaborative teacher teams, and (e) integration with an embedded, academically structured study skills class.
This DRP adds to the emerging body of research on centralized high school peer tutoring models by synthesizing the research with practitioner perceptions to gauge how the five features might work together toward desirable outcomes such as: improved academic performance (for freshmen in particular), keeping freshmen on track to graduate, increased graduation rates across various subgroups, getting more students engaged with grade level content, and providing leadership opportunities for a diverse array of students.
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CHAPTER III
METHODS
Based on the literature review, experience in the field, and feedback from partner sites, this DRP proposes that there are key aspects underlying the five features of peer tutoring that matter most to successful high school tutoring centers. Employing a cross-case analysis with four high school tutoring centers, this study seeks to triangulate data sources and analyze specific research-based propositions to gauge perceptions about the presence of the features and examine their perceived value and integration. This approach will empower the researcher to answer two central questions:
1. How do the procedures, systems, and resources within four high school tutoring centers work together and align with what research has found to be important for effective peer tutoring at the secondary level?
2. What ideas do practitioners at the four partner sites have for improving the peer tutoring center experience and outcomes?
Research Design
This quality improvement study features a cross-case analysis of four high school tutoring centers from one suburban school district in Colorado. The study integrates a descriptive analysis of extant student data with qualitative data brought forth through surveys, interviews, and artifacts collected across the four high schools. In addition to the cross-case analysis, partner sites were provided with collaboratively decided upon deliverables (practitioner guide and executive summary) to support their quality improvement efforts.
Cross-case analysis facilitates comparison of commonalities and differences across units of analysis and helps extend the expertise of the researcher beyond a single case
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(VanWynsberghe & Khan, 2007). Given the four high school tutoring centers presented in this DRP, cross-case analysis is a useful means to determine why the cases vary across settings, groups, and features. The method should enhance shared understanding about the relationships across the cases with the goal of learning from evidence to improve implementation (Yin, 2003). In reviewing literature on case studies, Stake notes that “a case study is both a process of inquiry about the case(s) and the product of that inquiry” (Stake, 2000, p. 436). To guide qualitative improvement with partner sites, cross-case analysis is also a valuable tool to reveal new questions and features, explore new dimensions, and possibly formulate new models to increase understanding of relevant phenomenon (Stretton, 1969). Thus, through cross-case methods, this DRP also seeks to uncover additional features that matter as much as, or more than, the five postulated.
This research project is not intended as an empirical analysis of the impact of tutoring centers upon student outcomes and it does not include direct observation of the actual peer tutoring session themselves. Nor does it consider the perspectives of the students who receive the tutoring support (‘tutees’). Rather, data will be collected specific to the perceptions of peer tutors, teachers, tutoring center directors, and administrators regarding the presence, quality, integration, and importance of various features.
Propositions
To illuminate details from the literature review and study the five features on a more granular level across partner sites, this DRP examines evidence from respondent regarding the presence of and perceptions about the value underlying several core propositions of those features—namely, what aspects of each feature matter, how they matter, why they matter, and to what degree to individuals see the features as being important and/or present in their own
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settings. This section will examine a set of propositions specific to the five features: (a) peer tutors as mentors and academic coaches, (b) tutor preparation and support, (c) tutoring center dynamics, (d) integration with effective collaborative teacher teams, and (e) integration with an embedded, academically structured study skills class.
Proposition 1 (Feature 1)
Based on the study of the literature and field experience, this DRP highlights one particular type of tutoring— unidirectional, cross-age peer tutoring in high schools. Rather than comparing cross-age tutoring with other formats (near age, reciprocal), this study proposes that cross-age peer tutoring at the high school level is empowered when peer tutors function as academic coaches and mentors who are focused on a clear set of purposes (like keeping freshmen on track). This project also proposes that tutors are likely to be more effective when they utilize high impact strategies that scaffold the learning and empower the learner. Table 3.1 summarizes the key parts of this feature that this study examines across four schools through the eyes of peer tutors, tutoring center directors, teacher teams, and administrators.
Table 3.1: Peer Tutors as Mentors and Academic Coaches, Essential Elements
Feature 1 - Peer Tutors as Mentors and Academic Coaches
• Unidirectional, cross-age format
• Peer-mediated
• Focused on a clear set of purposes
• Emphasize mentoring and relationships
• Differentiate and personalize to meet student needs
• Attention to tutor-student matching
• Provide structured choice as much as possible
• Empower student ownership of learning
Tutoring Strategies
• Interactive questioning
• Wait time, think time
• Scaffolding
• Targeted Feedback
• Error analysis
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Proposition 2 (Feature 2)
Based on the literature review and field experience, this study proposes that to optimize the impact of peer tutoring, a diverse group of tutors need quality training at the onset and then on regular intervals, including modeling of questioning techniques, role play and judicious practice. In addition to this training, the tutors need to be provided and reminded of a clear set of purposes for tutoring (e.g. keep freshmen on track to graduate and build relationships with them). This study also proposes that peer tutoring sessions need to be monitored by teachers and that tutors need to be provided targeted feedback around the tutoring process to improve questioning techniques, error analysis, and essential content knowledge. Table 3.2 summarizes the key parts of this feature that will be examined across four schools through the eyes of peer tutors, tutoring center directors, teacher teams, and administrators.
Table 3.2: Tutor Preparation and Support, Essential Elements
Feature 2 - Tutor Preparation and Support
• Diverse and persistent recruiting that leads to variety, quantity, and quality of tutors
• Emphasize a clear set of purposes for tutoring
• Train tutors on questioning and feedback strategies through copious practice and role play
• Content support provided to tutors as part of initial and ongoing training
• Structured guidance and support
• Monitor tutoring sessions
• Provide frequent feedback and modeling sessions
• Incentivize, recognize, and celebrate tutors
Proposition 3 (Feature 3)
As noted in research and based on field experience, this study proposes that tutoring centers can provide enabling conditions to optimize the impact of peer tutors as academic coaches and mentors. By functioning as a center piece of tiered interventions and resources, tutoring centers provide a welcoming physical and cultural environment that leverages collaborative conversations across networks. Ideally, the center is led by a champion who
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advocates for students while holding a high bar of expectations blended with empathy. The support should also be accessible to freshmen nearly every day for all periods of the day (if not even more—such as during lunch periods, before/after school), with a direct focus on students who need the most help (while also being open to other students as needed). Additionally, this study proposes that the center should flexibly work with students with current course material to earn credits in grade level content (particularly math and English), be integrated and aligned with effective PLC teams, and supported by administrators. Furthermore, the impact of the centers is optimized when they are part of a tiered support system and integrated with the study skills class (from which they pull freshmen for help). Operationally, it is imperative that the tutoring centers create and maintain effective and efficient structures and processes (e.g. use of data to identify student needs, pulling process, and reteaching/retesting mechanism) to keep freshmen on track to graduate. Table 3.3 summarizes the key parts of this feature that will be examined across four schools through the eyes of peer tutors, tutoring center directors, teacher teams, and administrators.
Table 3.3: Tutoring Center Dynamics, Essential Elements
Feature 3 - Tutoring Center Dynamics
Collaborative communication across networks
• Led by a champion who is 'respectfully relentless and relentlessly respectful'
• Empowered by integration with PLCs, study skills, and tiered support system
• Supported by administration, counselors, and departments Environment (physical and cultural)
• Welcoming, positive, safe, and productive
• Open all day, nearly every day
• Open to all students and directive to those most in need
• Resources and materials readily available Operational structures and processes
• Convergent use of data to identify and pull students
• Real time support linked to classroom formative assessment cycles
• Effective re-teaching- retesting/ revising procedures
• Flexible, variable dosage levels matched to student need
• Support more students with accessing grade level content
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Proposition 4 (Feature 4)
As evident in the literature and based on field experience, this DRP proposes that tutoring centers benefit when teacher teams attend to research-based collaborative practices and when their work is intentionally integrated with the tutoring center model. Such high leverage team practices include: focusing on essential learning outcomes, use of a common formative assessment cycle to examine the impact of their teaching based on student data, and an explicit emphasis upon improving tier 1 (core classroom) instruction. Evidence from the field also suggests that when teacher teams partner with centralized peer tutoring, the impact upon student learning can be accelerated, especially when there is a thoughtful and systematic integration with tiered intervention models (like Rtl and MTSS). This integrated and collaborative approach is proposed to build the collective capacity of schools to keep freshmen on track to graduate college and career ready. Table 3.4 summarizes the key parts of this feature that will be examined across four schools through the eyes of tutoring center directors, teacher teams, and administrators.
Table 3.4: Integration with Effective Collaborative Teacher Teams, Essential Elements
Integration with Effective Collaborative Teacher Teams
• Direct engagement and partnership with tutoring center(s)
• Focus on Essential Learning Outcomes (ELO’s), ideally skills-based, and/or standards/proficiency based
• Support common formative assessment (CFA) cycle
• Effective PLC practices in place with a focus on collaboratively examining student work to improve teaching and learning outcomes
• Explicit emphasis on improving Tier 1 instruction rather than overreliance on the tutoring centers as ‘crutches’
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Proposition 5 (Feature 5)
Based on the literature review and field experience, this DRP proposes that effective
tutoring center models require access to students from a structured academic study skills/study
hall that is embedded in the school day. Such a study skills class creates a climate of high
academic expectations, provides for a floating curriculum that is flexible to allow for students
being pulled for academic tutoring as needed, holds students accountable to completing core
academic coursework/homework, teaches organizational skills, and helps students set and
monitor academic goals. In addition to providing a structured academic environment, the
tutoring center(s) function more efficiently when working together with the study skills class.
This DRP proposes that the tutoring center model depends upon direct engagement and
partnership with a study skills/study hall that helps facilitate access to timely academic tutoring.
From a logistics standpoint, to help distribute the tutoring support across the school day, study
skills classes should be distributed throughout all periods of the school day to help spread out the
demand on the tutoring center. Additionally study skills should be required for most freshmen,
especially those with academic risk factors. Table 3.5 summarizes the key parts of this feature.
Table 3.5: Integration with Embedded, Academically Structured Study Skills Class, Essential Elements
Integration with Embedded, Academically Structured Study Skills Class
Direct engagement and partnership with tutoring center(s)
Embedded in the school day
Distributed throughout the school day (offered all periods)
Access to most freshmen, especially those with academic risk factors Flexible, floating curriculum (not missing core content while getting tutored)
Structured guidance, advisory, monitoring, and accountability (grade checks, organizational skills and goal setting/tracking taught)
An academic focus (productive learning environment, homework assistance)
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Data Sources and Collection
Table 3.6 displays the data sources that were triangulated to examine these thematic propositions across the four partner sites, including a peer tutor survey, PLC survey, administrator survey, tutoring center director interviews, and artifacts.
Table 3.6: DRP Data Sources Aligned to the Five Features of High School Tutoring Centers
Five Features Peer Tutor Survey Questions PLC Survey Questions Administrator Survey Questions Director Interviews Questions Artifacts
. Peer tutors as mentors and academic coaches 4 2 2 3-4 training protocols, feedback rubrics, materials;
. Tutor preparation and support 5-6 2 2 5-6 training protocols, feedback rubrics, materials; tutor demographics
. Tutoring center dynamics 2-3 2-4 2 4-5 mission, pamphlet, hours of operation subject areas addressed grade levels; physical description, student usage data
. Integration with effective collaborative teacher teams 0 8-10 4 3-4 PLC agreements, supporting documents
. Integration with embedded, academically structured study skills class 1 0 2 3-4 Hours, mission, structure, curriculum description
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Setting
The unit of study for this analysis are the tutoring centers at various stages of implementation from four different high schools in a suburban district in Colorado (27,000 students). The schools that house these tutoring centers are markedly different than one another in terms of demographics and incoming student risk factors. Each school’s tutoring center, led by at least one tutoring center director (teacher on special assignment), has implemented the model based upon a common set of features, though site-specific approaches have varied according to contextual variables and resource allocations. The schools have generally taken a similar approach to keep freshmen on track, with a targeted focus on Algebra 1, because of the challenge of the course and its impact on graduation rates (Silver et al., 2008).
The researcher received approval for this DRP as a quality improvement project from the UCD SEHD through their protocol review followed by approval by the school district for the purpose of conducting academic research. Once approved, the researcher recruited the partner sites and acquired official permission from the four principals as well as consent from the tutoring center directors. Each team was provided the scope of the quality improvement study, including details of data collection and instructions for administering the surveys.
The target population included peer tutors from each site (183 in total, mostly ranging in age from 16 to 18), a targeted group of PLC team members with direct connections to each tutoring center (53 teachers in total), study skills teacher/study hall supervisors for artifact collection (2-3), administrators from each site (30) and the tutoring center directors (8). The extant data to be utilized for the study comes from freshmen across all four partner sites (1,656 students), with current demographics displayed in Table 3.7. The schools have been assigned pseudonyms for this paper.
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Table 3.7: Profile of the Four Schools as of the Spring of 2018
Central HS North HS West HS East HS
Spring 2018: 9th Enrollment 405 559 334 359
% who qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch (FRL) 55% 42% 48% 78%
% who are African American/Black or Hispanic/Latino 50% (9%, 33%) 43% (8%, 28%) 36% (5%, 22%) 67% (10%, 48%)
% who have IEPs 7% 9% 10% 14%
% who are English Language Learners (ELL) 6% 2% 3% 15%
% who are labeled Gifted and Talented (GT) 12% 11% 14% 2%
Initial Tutoring Center Year 2008-09 (Year 10) Year 2013-14 Year 2014-15 (Year 3.5) Year 2015-16 (Year 3)
Implementation (Year 5, fully in Year 3)
Focus of tutoring Algebra 1, Science, and previously English Algebra 1, English, Science Algebra 1 Algebra 1
Quality of Student Access Study Skills (40+ students per period), all periods, credit earned Study Skills (40+ students per period), all periods, credit earned Study Hall, (50+ students per period), all periods, no credit earned Study Skills (15-20 students per period), offered 5 of 7 periods, credit earned
Schedule* 7 period days, with late start Weds for PLC time
Special School Programs IB, MYP, Restorative Justice, AVID AP focused, AVID; emerging in NexGen AP focused, AVID; Project Lead the Way ROTC, emerging Project Based Learning
*Note. Several high schools in other districts have successfully implemented the tutoring center model with a block schedule.
While the school district featured in this DRP now has four tutoring center models in place across its traditional high schools, the model had its humble origins at ‘Central High
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School’, a school that proactively faced rapidly changing demographics. Central HS slowly and successfully implemented key aspects of the model to shrink gaps among sub-groups of students, leading to an expansion of the model to the other three district high schools (North High School, West High School, and East High School). The model continues to be adapted and morphed to fit unique contexts, cultural dynamics, and resource limitations.
Evidence of variance in student results between the four schools motivated the original and underlying problem of practice for this research project: How might we learn from the variability in outcomes across the tutoring centers to better identify key features of the model? Due to time and capacity constraints, this DRP ultimately opted to use qualitative measures to gauge perceptions about the presence and integration of evidence-based features rather than a more empirical, quantitative analysis of variance among student outcomes. The goal remains the same: develop a better understanding the similarities and differences among the centers to improve implementation as way to hopefully improve results and reduce variance in student level outcomes across the sites (e.g. freshmen on track rates, graduation rates). It is also important to note that the tutoring centers in these high schools are but one aspect of a complex learning ecosystem that impact student outcomes. This DRP is focused on a limited set of interrelated aspects of that learning culture (tutors, the tutoring center dynamics, the integration of collaborative teacher teams, and the study skills/study hall access point).
Central High School
Central High School launched the district’s first tutoring center in 2008-9 on a small scale and expanded the model to be open all day, every day, and included support for math, English and other core subjects for freshmen by 2009-10. By 2010-11, the center was also supporting sophomores in multiple subjects and was utilizing more than 80 peer tutors daily. Results
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quickly demonstrated positive correlational impact upon credit acquisition in 9th grade and within three years the school experienced improved graduation rates (overall and for most of the traditionally marginalized subgroups—see Appendix A). Of note, the pace of improvement far exceeded the district and state rates among all subgroups except for students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) (see Appendix B) leading to considerable interest from inside and outside the district. After garnering national attention (Edweek article by Samuels, 2009), Central High School began hosting dozens of site visits by schools and districts from across the United States. Based on these site visits, national conference presentations, articles and books written about the model (Koselak, 2011; Koselak & Lyall, 2016; Koselak 2017), and word of mouth, many high schools across Colorado have now implemented similar tutoring center models. As the innovation continues to scale across a diverse network of schools (both inside and outside the district), the need to bring attention to the features that matter most has increased. This is particularly true as the data at Central HS, due to a range of challenges, is revealing evidence of an implementation dip (see Appendix C).
North High School
North High School began their tutoring center with a math focus in 2013-14 but lacked regular access to students due to an unstructured and inconsistent study hall. Once the school addressed the study hall issue (by building a powerful guided study skills model under the tutelage of a veteran educator) and built a writing center to compliment the math supports, the impact was immediately noticeable. The school dramatically cut freshmen failure rates, halted several declining trends in course performance (students passing classes), and now boasts the highest graduation rate in the district (as seen in Appendix D). The school is preparing to refine
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their study skills model, expand to include 10th graders, and is considering the inclusion of more subject areas.
West High School
West High School, the third of the four high schools to begin a tutoring center model, started with math in 2014-15 and has remained focused on that area (with occasional and sporadic excursions into supporting freshmen English). While there is evidence of improved outcomes for freshmen in math classes likely associated with tutoring center implementation (based on the percent of students passing freshmen Algebra), that same impact has not been observed in other subject areas. Thus, the graduation rates at WHS are worse than both Central and North even though they serve students of better means (Appendix E). It is worth noting that while graduation rates have not shown steady improvement at West, their ACT, SAT, and AP test scores tend to be higher than all other schools in the district. A notable challenge that this DRP will explore is the lack of a robust guided study skills structure at West, something they are aware of and working to address.
East High School
East High School, facing the most challenges with the greatest poverty rates in the city, is in the most precarious situation. Their tutoring center started in 2016-2017 with a focus on math for six periods of the day, explicitly linked to a small guided study skills class (up to 20 students, 5 of 7 periods every day). It remains focused on math, though they have also recently started employing peer tutors from AP English classes across freshmen English classes. The efforts in math appear to be paying off regarding credit acquisition in the freshmen year, though it is still too early to tell if the impact will lead to increased achievement and graduation rates (See Appendix F).
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One context to consider, for reference moving forward with data analysis across the cases (as noted in Table 3.7), is that East HS is the school with the highest percent of freshmen students in poverty (with 78 % FRL as the proxy measure for poverty), followed by Central HS (55%), West HS (48%), and North HS (42%). The percentage of freshmen students of color at each site is mostly in alignment with the FRL rates (67% at East; 50% at Central; 43% at North, and 36% at West). Additionally, all schools in this study are on a seven-period school day, with a late start on Wednesday mornings for collaborative teacher teams to meet (PLC time). Schools from other districts who have implemented the tutoring center model, beyond this study, have successfully used block schedule formats and modified blocks.
Incoming Data on 2017-18 Freshmen Across the Four Sites Figure 3.8 illustrates the differences in the achievement level and risk factors of incoming freshmen students based on state test results and incoming 8th grade GPA. The nature of school choice in the city and mobility rates create challenges with data collection, as a fairly high percent of freshmen enter HS with little or no available data to inform a preventative, tiered model of support.
Table 3.8: Incoming Freshmen Student Data Across the Four Sites, from 8th Grade
Freshmen Incoming Risk Factors from 8th Grade Count for Entire Data set (EOY 2017-18) Percent of Freshmen with no 8th Grade CMAS* data Math percentile 16-17 (average) ELA percentile 16-17 (average) Cumulati ve GPA (average) %of Freshmen with no 8th Grade GPA data
West 326 30% 50.0 50.9 2.67 10%
North 545 33% 49.1 48.0 2.62 12%
East 353 39% 34.6 28.9 2.23 20%
Central 395 41% 40.5 44.0 2.43 12%
Total 1619 36% 44.4 43.8 2.51 13%
* CMAS (Colorado Measure of Academic Standards) is the annual state test given grades 3-8, for Math and English Language Arts, as well as Science, which includes a scale score and percentile rank. Cumulative GPA is calculated quarterly in grades 6-8.
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Data Sources
The DRP integrates descriptive data analysis with qualitative analysis across four case studies to explore similarities and variability across the sites and to see how much the proposed five features matter. In addition to the integration of descriptive analysis of student level data, the qualitative analysis includes a survey of peer tutors, a survey of teachers from collaborative teacher teams linked to the tutoring centers, a survey of building administrators, tutoring center director interviews, artifact collection, and two member-check processes. Data was collected in a uniform manner across the settings (with a few notable challenges) and in collaboration with the tutoring center directors.
Peer Tutor Surveys
To incorporate the perspectives of peer tutors from each of the four high schools and better understand the presence of and perceived impact of training and feedback, a 16-question, 15-minute survey was completed by 183 peer tutors (see Appendix G). Students were informed of the voluntary nature of the survey and could have opted out entirely, partially, or at any time, with no negative consequences. The purpose of the survey was to gauge peer tutor perspectives about the presence and values of tutoring aspects postulated by this DRP to matter the most, including: their role as mentor and academic coach; the training, feedback received along the way, belief in their impact; and key obstacles and improvement ideas. The survey mixed 5-point Likert scale with open ended questions.
Survey of Teachers on Collaborative Teams Linked to Tutoring Centers
A voluntary and anonymous 10-question, 10-minute survey was administered to PLC teams most closely linked to the tutoring centers in the four partner sites. Teachers were informed of the voluntary nature of the survey and could have opted out entirely, partially, or at
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any time, with no adverse consequences. The set of questions (see Appendix H) was completed by teachers from mostly freshmen level math and ELA collaborative teams, each comprised of about four teachers per team, totaling 53. The survey mixed 5-point Likert scale with open ended questions to examine perceived benefits of the tutoring center, the actions that best support the center, the presence of specific PLC actions and beliefs (aligned curriculum, common formative assessment), and the extent of harmony/integration with the tutoring center.
Survey of School Administrators
A voluntary 14-question, 15-minute survey was offered electronically to administrators from each partner site, including principals, assistant principals, deans, and counselors. Administrators were informed of the voluntary nature of the survey and could opt out entirely, partially, or at any time, with no adverse consequences. The survey mixed 5-point Likert scale with open ended questions to gauge perceptions regarding the presence, value, and the quality of: peer tutor training and feedback; PLC integration with the tutoring centers; and study skill s/hall access. The survey also included open-ended questions to see what features of tutoring centers matter most to administrators and what improvements could be made. This set of questions (see Appendix I) was completed by a total of 30 administrators across the four partner sites.
Tutoring Center Director Interviews
As a key part of understanding the features of the tutoring center models, 90-minute individualized interviews were conducted with each of the tutoring center directors (some schools have several directors) over the summer of 2018. Directors were informed of the voluntary nature of the survey and could opt out entirely, partially, or at any time, with no negative consequences. Prior to the interview, the directors were provided a preliminary draft of the descriptive data analysis, a summary of the surveys from tutors, PLC teams, and building
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administrators. Providing the data ahead of time to the directors was intended to member check and frame the conversation around causal inferences—keying in on aspects of the centers that may have led to the variance in results (bright spots and areas of concern). The interview questions, as featured in Appendix J, were designed to draw out the perceptions about the value and presence of features the directors see as mattering most for the tutoring center to be successful with student academic growth and credit acquisition. The interviews were videotaped using Oflfice365 Stream (a secure and restricted district access site) which includes an automated transcription tool.
Artifact Collection
To help ascertain the structural attributes and processes that support tutoring centers, the researcher gathered a set of artifacts (available in the Appendix section). The artifacts were collected from the tutoring centers and the guided study hall/skills classes over the spring semester of 2018.
Tutoring Center Artifacts
The DRP reviewed artifacts collected from each site’s tutoring center, such as: mission and/or vision (pamphlet, website, etc.); quantity of hours open (how many hours open per day); specific times tutoring center is open (if not all day, what periods open); grade levels served (categorical—9th only, or 9th and 10th, or all grades); and content areas served (categorical—math, math and EL A, or math and EL A and other subjects). Additionally, the study examined the retake and revision policies that undergird the formative assessment cycle in connection with PLC teams. Artifacts regarding peer tutoring were also gathered, including recruiting methods, training structures, protocols and orientation process, rubrics and process for peer tutor feedback.
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Guided Study Hall Artifacts
The quality of the guided study hall model is described as a measure of the quality and quantity of student access, based on curriculum description (floating curriculum, organizational skills, study skills, etc.), credit provision (for credit or not), staffing allocation (staffed by educational assistant and/or teacher on special assignment), availability during the school day (all day or certain periods), and number of students supported per period and as a percent of grade level population.
Descriptive Analysis
The data collected across all four partner sites included basic demographics, input data (from freshmen student’s 8th grade experiences in school year 2016-17). The rationale for collecting certain types of extant student data is based on research around early warning indicators of students who may not reach graduation in four years or at all (Balfanz et al., 2002; CCSR, 2014). For example, a study of Oregon districts identified four indicators that helped schools with early warning signs for students not on track to graduate on time: 8th grade attendance below 80%; 8th grade GPA below 2.0; 9th grade attendance below 80%; and 9th grade GPA below 2.0 (Burke, 2015). Balfanz and Johns Hopkins University, through the “Diplomas Now” program, also found value in directly focusing on course performance in core classes (earning a passing mark in math and English, for example) as a robust indicator of graduating on time (as featured in a study by Corrin, Sepanik, Rosen, & Shane, 2016).
Because of mobility across sites and across districts, as well as the flexible nature in which tutoring centers support struggling students, doing a matched pair empirical research study will come with challenges for future researchers. Namely, the model is designed to prioritize, in a timely way based on the most relevant data, support to students most in need throughout a
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semester (including students who are more likely to come and go into the school and face more attendance and disciplinary issues).
Input Data
To better understand the risk level of students entering each of the four high schools as a basis for descriptive analysis, input data includes GPAdata as a proxy measure of student risk rating as 8th graders (from 2016-17 as 8th grade data set matched data with this year’s freshmen). Achievement data features a snapshot of state level assessment data (Colorado Measure of Academic Standards-CMAS), including average percentile scores in both math and English Language Arts (ELA).
Tutoring Center Usage
Each of the tutoring centers collect student usage data to monitor how many students are using the resource and how often. Some students use the center daily, others a few times per week, some a few times a month, and others not at all. Some students drop in for timely help for getting ready for a test or help with an assignment while others, especially those considered to be at risk, the support is more directive—the director pulls students from study skills/hall to provide them with targeted peer tutoring. Upon meeting with the directors from all four partner sites, it was discovered that the partner sites collect usage data in different ways, making any crossschool comparison challenging. Given the variety of approaches, comparisons of intensity within schools is applicable, but comparing usage across schools is less useful. Discussing the variety of approaches with the partner site has already led to a quality improvement decision across the sites to become more consistent in tracking student usage with the use of a student ID scanner. For this reason, the researcher requested that the directors rank the intensity of student supports for school year 2017-18, in combination with recorded usage data, to help capture both
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values for descriptive analysis. This measure of the ‘level of support’ was then sorted into bins of usage intensity to estimate the quantity and intensity of supports provided.
The DRP includes other tutoring center elements in the descriptive analysis across the partner sites, including: the number of peer tutors (and as a percent of total student population); number of students served (as a percent of total freshmen class); and the percent of freshmen enrolled in grade level math and EL A courses.
Data Analysis Procedures
Triangulated data from the various survey and interview instruments was analyzed using the qualitative tool Dedoose (in addition to tables and spreadsheets) to examine emergent themes, qualitative comparisons, and to verify which features confirm the research literature and to what extent. Additional benefits of using a cross-case analysis include the possible generation of new ideas and alternative features that extend the learning of the group and inform potential future research. To establish inter-rater reliability of the themes, calibration of coding was done with the colleague who co-founded the tutoring center model at Central HS and contributed to a book on the subject.
Two of the surveys (peer tutors and teachers) were administered with pencil paper to minimize technology requirements at the sites, loaded into labeled large mailing envelopes, and then entered by the researcher into a spreadsheet to facilitate descriptive analysis (mean, median, variance, standard deviation). The survey of building administrators was conducted electronically using Forms in Office 365 and analyzed in excel to facilitate descriptive analysis (mean, median, variance, standard deviation). In both cases, the open-ended comments were loaded into Dedoose and into table formats to examine themes and patterns (including comparisons and contrasts) across categories, participant groups, and school sites.
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Once summarized, the data was partially shared in its initial form with the tutoring center directors prior to their summer interviews to better inform their responses to questions about the presence and importance of features that matter most. The director interviews also provided a chance to member check in conjunction with gauging the directors’ perceptions regarding the central propositions of the study and additional themes that emerged from the initial data collection. The interviews were audio recorded and transcribed automatically in 0ffice365, with external validation, and loaded into Dedoose as well as in tables for integration with existing data. At each stage, an external coder was brought in to assist with coding and calibration of themes.
Member Check and Quality Improvement Process
The leaders (directors) of the four tutoring centers have been meeting as a Professional Learning Community (PLC) for several years and now they meet about two or three times per year to share data, ideas, and to brainstorm ways to improve upon the model. The researcher is involved with this group throughout the school year in a supportive role to help facilitate their PLC meetings, though without any evaluative relationship over the group. Through this crossschool PLC structure, the group was instrumental in contextualizing this research project, including jointly negotiating the design and research process, helping to clarify the research questions, improving the survey questions, and shaping the deliverables for the sites. Early informal discussions with them led to improvements in data collection approaches at their sites for next year and an increased desire to be more intentional about collaborative data analysis leading to quality improvement. A draft report was shared with the tutoring center directors in January of 2019 to provide an additional chance to check with members regarding the tone and
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content of the study. Their feedback throughout the process of this study helped shape the tone, scope, focus, and the final recommendations.
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CHAPTER IV
FINDINGS
The purpose of this study was to identify the most salient features of effective, centralized peer tutoring in high school settings and better understand how those features work together to improve student outcomes. A cross-case quality improvement study design was chosen to document the perspectives of peer tutors (survey), administrators (survey), teachers from PLC teams (survey), and tutoring center directors (interviews) from four high schools at various stages of implementation.
To better understand the tutoring center model through the lens of practitioner beliefs, this study set out to answer two research questions:
1. How do the procedures, systems, and resources within four high school tutoring centers work together and align with what research has found to be important for effective peer tutoring at the secondary level?
2. What ideas do practitioners at the four partner sites have for improving the peer tutoring center experience and outcomes?
The participants’ perspectives that were analyzed include beliefs about the impact of the tutoring center model, the features of the model that matter most, and how those features interact together. The surveys and interview questions used to collect data from the study participants are provided in Appendices G through J. An additional data collection activity of the cross-case analysis included soliciting site-based insights from practitioners, through open ended response items, about obstacles and recommended improvements.
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Organization of Findings from Data Analysis
In order to answer the two research questions, the results section provides the findings from the analyses of participant responses across the four schools. This chapter, incorporating descriptive statistics and quantitative analysis, is organized to present and interpret a) population and participant demographics, b) key aspects and integration of the five features of centralized high school peer tutoring, c) perceptions of tutoring center effectiveness and d) significant obstacles and improvement ideas shared by participants.
The analyses results are thematically organized by the five features of centralized high school peer tutoring: (a) peer tutors as mentors and academic coaches, (b) tutor preparation and support, (c) tutoring center dynamics, (d) integration with effective collaborative teacher teams, and (e) integration with an embedded, academically structured study skills class. These tutoring center features are based on studies cited in the literature review, the researcher’s experience with high school tutoring centers, and the integration of new insights from participants in this crosscase qualitative study.
The chapter includes findings from the data analysis (including Likert scale prompts, open-ended responses, and demographic data) gathered from peer tutor surveys, PLC team surveys, building administrator surveys, artifacts, and interviews with tutoring center directors.
In addition to providing and interpreting results of the quantitative data analysis of Likert scale survey responses that examine variance across sites and participant groups, this chapter also synthesizes and interprets direct quotes from tutors, teachers, directors, and building administrators. The goal of including direct quotes is to capture and amplify practitioner perspectives regarding common themes within and across the five features.
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This study utilized a cross-case analysis across four district high school tutoring centers from a large suburban school district in the western United States. The schools, known by pseudonyms as West, North, East, and Central were studied for similarities and differences related to the five features of centralized high school peer tutoring. The following data was collected across the four sites during the Spring semester of 2017-18:
• Interviews with eight Tutoring Center Directors for an average of 90 minutes each working through a set of 12-15 questions (Appendix J).
• Survey of 183 Peer Tutors (15-minute survey with 16 questions plus demographic snapshot) — (Appendix G)
• Survey of 30 Administrators, Deans and Counselors (15-minute survey with 14 questions) —(Appendix I)
• Survey of 53 teachers from collaborative teams linked closely to the tutoring center (4 math teams, 2 English teams, 2 Science teams) (10-minute survey with 10 questions) — (Appendix H)
• Artifacts from the four high school tutoring centers (includes training protocols, study skills/hall expectations, recruiting materials, student usage data)
Background of Tutoring Centers
It is important to note that the tutoring centers in these high schools are but one aspect of a complex ecosystem and learning environment that underly the school’s culture and influence student outcomes. This DRP is focused on a limited set of interrelated aspects of that learning culture (tutors, the tutoring center dynamics, the integration of collaborative teacher teams, and the study skills/study hall access point).
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Chapter 3 provided an overview of all four schools and background on each schools’ tutoring center implementation story (summarized in Table 3.7). To review, these schools are at various places along the tutoring center implementation journey, as noted in the following short descriptions.
Central HS (year 10 of implementation; 55% FRL) was the first to implement the tutoring center model, has a fairly strong study skills model, and is focused mostly on math support (dropped English support midway this year but increased science support to start the year). They experienced extensive staff turnover from 2015 through 2018 at key positions linked to the tutoring center. North HS (year 5 of implementation; 42% FRL) was the second school to implement and then transformed it by integrating a robust study skills class (similar to a freshmen seminar) and an English tutoring center to complement their Math center (science is supported to a lesser extent). West HS (year 3.5 of implementation; 48% FRL) was the third school to implement, is focused almost exclusively on math, and pulls students from an unstructured study hall in the cafeteria. East HS (year 3 of implementation; 78% FRL) was the fourth school to implement, focuses almost exclusively on math, and experienced staff turnover in their newly implemented study skills class during 2017-18.
One context to consider for reference moving forward with interpreting the data analysis across the cases is that East HS has the highest percent offreshmen in poverty (with 78 % FRL as the proxy measure), followed by Central HS (55%), West HS (48%), and North HS (42%).
The percentage offreshmen students of color at each site closely mirrors the FRL rates (67% at East; 50% at Central; 43% at North, and 36% at West). In alignment with these data sets, students arrive at these schools as freshmen with varying degrees of academic readiness (see Table 3.8).
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Descriptive Characteristics of Population and Participants
This section provides descriptive characteristics of the populations of peer tutors, teachers from collaborative teams, administrators, and tutoring center directors across the schools included in the study (collected primarily from extractions from the district’s student information system, school master schedules, and staff rosters). Following the descriptions of the populations, this section will also describe the study participants based on data collected through surveys, interviews, and artifact collection.
Populations Across Four Schools
Table 4.1 presents the approximate populations of peer tutors (251), tutoring center directors (12), teachers on collaborative teams connected to the tutoring centers (63), and administrators (50) across the four high school sites. The peer tutor population of 251 is based on an extraction of enrollment data from the Student Information System (SIS) during the Table 4.1: Populations of Peer Tutors, Directors, Teachers, and Administrators across Schools
School Population of peer tutors for SY 2017-18 (semester 2) * Tutoring Center Directors Teachers on Collaborative Teams connected to the centers (approximate) Administrators, including deans and counselors (approximate)
West HS 67 1 6 10
North HS 99 5 28 16
East HS 44 1 5 9
Central HS 41 5 24 15
Total 251 12 63 50
* Peer tutor population is based on roster extraction from Student Information Systems.
second semester of school year 2017-18. The population for directors, teachers, and administrators was compiled based on estimates provided by the tutoring center directors and
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cross referenced with artifacts supplied by schools and the district (master schedules and lists of administrators, deans, and counselors).
Racial composition of the peer tutor population across the four sites. Peer tutoring in high schools creates leadership and learning opportunities for a racially diverse cadre of peer tutors (who are diverse across other demographic factors as well) that can lead to increased level of school engagement (Good, Halpin, & Halpin, 2000), increased reading performance among at risk students provided the chance to tutor (Menikoff, 1999; Polirstok & Greer, 1986), and positive overall academic and social impacts for underserved students (Cohen, et al, 1982;
White, 2000; and Willis, Morris, & Crowder, 1972). Accordingly, the racial composition of the peer tutor population is an important data element to consider.
Table 4.2 presents the racial composition of the entire population of peer tutors across the four school sites, including comparisons relative to each school’s overall student demographics, broken down by semester. The population data, based on the extraction of student rosters from the Student Information System), reveals that African American students are somewhat underrepresented as tutors at West HS (3% and 1% during the two semesters compared with 5% of the school’s overall demographic composition), North HS (3% and 1% compared with 7% of the total student population), and at East HS (10% and 9% compared with 12% of the school’s overall demographic composition). African American students are nearly equally represented at Central HS (8% and 9% compared to 9% of school’s overall demographic composition).
The population of Hispanic/Latino peer tutors are somewhat underrepresented at West HS (22% and 14% compared with 25% of the school’s overall demographic composition) and at East HS (20% and 32% compared with 45% of the school’s overall demographic composition).
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Table 4.2: Racial Demographics of Peer Tutor Population across Four Cases
Racial Composition of Peer Semester 1 Semester 2 School Overall
Tutor Population* Demographic Composition
West HS Count Percent Count Percent Percent
Asian 5 7% 4 5% 2%
Black/African American 2 3% 1 1% %
Hispanic/Latino 17 22% 12 14% 25%
Native Hawaiian/Pacific 0 0% 1 1% 1%
Islander White 52 68% 49 58% 62%
WHS Total 76 67
North HS Count Percent Count Percent Percent
American Indian or Alaska Native 1 1% 0 0% 1%
Asian 3 3% 1 1% 2%
Black/African American 3 3% 1 1% 7%
Hispanic/Latino 22 25% 23 23% 25%
White 60 67% 74 75% 57%
NHS Total 89 99
East HS Count Percent Count Percent Percent
American Indian or Alaska Native 3 6% 0 0% 2%
Asian 6 12% 3 7% 2%
Black/African American 5 10% 4 9% 13%
Hispanic/Latino 10 20% 14 32% 45%
Native Hawaiian/Pacific 0 0% 1 2% 1%
Islander White 26 52% 22 50% 33%
EHS Total 50 44
Central HS Count Percent Count Percent Percent
Asian 1 1% 4 6% 2%
Black/African American 8 8% 6 9% 9%
Hispanic/Latino 43 45% 19 30% 34%
White 44 46% 35 55% 47%
CHS Total 96 64
* Population is based on roster extraction from Student Information Systems.
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Hispanic/Latino students are nearly equally represented at North HS (25% and 23% compared with 25% of the school’s overall demographic composition) and Central HS (45% and 30% compared with 34% of the school’s overall demographic composition.
Participation Rates and Additional Demographics of Peer Tutors
Table 4.3 summarizes the survey participation rates of peer tutors across the four high school sites. This research project includes survey responses from 183 peer tutors who participated of the population of 251, representing an overall participation rate of 73%. The participation rate ranged from a high of 93% at West HS to a low of 57% at North HS, with Central HS at 81% and East HS at 75%.
Table 4.3: Peer Tutor Survey Participation Rates
School Population* of peer tutors in the centers for Semester 2, SY 2017-18 Peer tutors who took the survey % Survey Participation Rate
West HS 67 62 93%
North HS 99 56 57%
East HS 44 33 75%
Central HS 41 33 81%
Total 251 183 73%
* Population is based on roster extraction from Student Information Systems.
Peer tutors who participated in the survey were asked to provide two pieces of demographic data: their grade level (9-12) and their experience level (based on the number of semesters as a tutor).
The high school tutoring center model described in this research project is predicated on cross-age (‘near-age’), unidirectional peer tutoring because that model has been shown to be more impactful than same-age peer tutoring (Bernstein et al., 1997; Hartley, 1977; Jun et al., 2010) and more sustainable at the high school level (Gaustad, 1992; Koselak & Lyall, 2016).
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Cross-age tutoring also encourages a more balanced tutoring process which deemphasizes the role of adult expertise (Damon & Phelps, 1989). To validate the degree to which each school deploys tutoring through a cross-age format, the peer tutor survey asked about the grade level of the tutor (see Appendix G). Table 4.4 illustrates the grade level composition of peer tutors who participated in the survey across the four schools (based on 251 total tutors enrolled).
Table 4.4: Grade-Level Composition of Peer Tutor Survey Respondents Across Four Schools
9th 10th 11th 12th No response % 11* & 12th Total Sample
n % n % n % n % n % N
West HS 4 6% 21 34% 16 26% 21 34% 0 0% 60% 62
North HS 0% 14 25% 16 29% 25 45% 0 0% 74% 55
East HS 0% 9 27% 10 30% 13 39% 1 3% 69% 33
Central HS 1 3% 7 21% 13 39% 11 33% 1 3% 72% 33
Grand Total 5 3% 51 28% 55 30% 70 38% 2 1% 68% 183
It is notable that North, East, and Central have similar grade level breakdowns for second semester (with over 69% of tutors from grades 11 and 12), while West has a lower rate of upper classmen tutors (60%). North (74%) and Central (72%) have had their tutoring center model in place longer (5 and 10 years, respectively), which has likely helped build awareness about the opportunity to be a tutor compared to East and West (3 and 3.5 years, respectively).
Additionally, North and Central HS support more students with more subjects (more than math at North and Central), across more periods of the day (all seven periods are covered at North and Central), than East and West HS (which are fully open five or six periods daily). The differential in hours of operation may be a motivating factor for recruiting more students at North and Central HS. Based on comments made during interviews with tutoring center directors, North
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and Central are more systematic in their recruitment efforts across networks (including current peer tutors, counselors, administrators, and classroom teachers).
The peer tutor survey also included a question pertaining to the experience level of peer tutors as measured by number of semesters worked in the tutoring centers (see Appendix G).
Also related to the differences with grade level representation in Table 4.4, tutors had varying amounts of experience in the tutoring centers. Participating tutors from North (62%) and Central (60%) were more likely to have tutored more than just one semester when compared to tutors from East (52%) and West (50%) (see Table 4.5 for semesters tutored across all four schools by counts and percent).
Table 4.5: Experience Level of Peer Tutors Who Participated in the Survey Across Schools
Tutoring Experience by School (# of Semesters) Count of Survey # Percent
West 62
1 Semester 31 50%
2 Semesters 22 35%
more than 2 Semesters 9 15%
North 55
1 Semester 21 38%
2 Semesters 21 38%
more than 2 Semesters 13 24%
East 33
1 Semester 16 48%
2 Semesters 12 36%
more than 2 Semesters 5 15%
Central 33
1 Semester 13 39%
2 Semesters 13 39%
more than 2 Semesters 7 21%
Grand Total 183
1 Semester 81 44%
2 Semesters 68 37%
more than 2 Semesters 34 19%
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While not a key element originally identified in the research literature, examining perceptions about the tutoring center model through the lens of tutor experience levels revealed a few key points of variance which will be explored throughout this chapter. As evident in Table 4.5, 56% of peer tutors across the four schools in the study tutored more than one semester, with some differences across the four sites. The fact that a higher portion of North and Central tutors had more than one semester of experience might be an expected result given the two schools implemented the model earlier, have established recruiting channels, and because they support more subjects and/or grade levels than just math and just freshmen (compared to the other two participating schools). In comparison, West HS has a narrower focus (math only), has not been open as long, and does not have well established recruiting channels. Accordingly, the 39% of the participating tutors at West HS are 9th or 10th graders (as noted previously in Table 4.4) and their survey respondents had the least amount of experience overall (only 50% had more than 1 semester of experience, as compared to survey respondents from North, East, and Central (62%, 52%, and 61%, respectively).
Based on all the contributing factors, it is not surprising to see the higher portion of upper classmen tutors and more experienced tutors at the two more established programs (North and Central). Given the differences in experience level of tutors across the four sites (and the potential for that variable to matter), the number of semesters tutored was included as one of the factors used to examine variance across survey items throughout this chapter. Whether age and/or experience level improve the impact of centralized peer tutoring is beyond the scope of this study (and could be a relevant question for future researchers to consider).
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Participating Tutoring Center Director Demographics
Eight of twelve tutoring center directors agreed to be interviewed (one from West, one from East, three from North, and three from Central), resulting in a 67% participation rate. The directors come from diverse professional backgrounds and have many years of experience working in a variety of education settings. The average years of professional experience among the group is 25, ranging from 11 years to 34 years, and all but two hold Master’s Degrees in Education. Number of years of experience directing their respective tutoring centers ranges from two to four years. Seven of the directors are white women and one is a white male. Four are former math teachers, three are former English teachers, and one is an administrator on special assignment (running the study skills class). All eight directors shared that they had significant experience working with struggling (‘at-risk’) students in secondary education settings. Findings from interviews with the eight tutoring center directors will be presented in the aggregate to protect anonymity of respondents.
Participating Teachers from Collaborative Teams
The teacher survey only gathered demographic data specifying the subject area taught and focused on by the collaborative team (subject areas included: math, English, science, or social studies). With 53 teachers participating in the survey (of about 63), the participation rate was approximately 70%. Given that two of the school’s tutoring center models focus almost exclusively on mathematics at the freshmen level (West and East), the following breakdown of teacher by subject across the partner sites in Table 4.6 is predictably weighted more towards mathematics PLCs teachers than other content areas (28 of the 53). Because the model is implemented differently based on subject area, this data element was used as one of the factors in analysis of variance across survey items. An additional factor for consideration in the analysis is
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that English support through the tutoring center was dropped mid-year (prior to the start of this survey) at Central HS, though four of the teachers from that English ‘PLC’ team did still complete the survey.
Table 4.6: Subject Area Breakdown of Teachers Who Participated in the Survey
School English Interventions Math Science Grand Total
West HS 6 6
North HS 7 9 6 22
East HS 4 4
Central HS 4 1 9 7 21
Grand Total 11 1 28 13 53
Participation Rates and Demographic Data from School Administrators
The only demographic data collected from school administrators was the school they work in and the role they serve. Included among the 30 survey participants, of a population of about 50 administrators (representing a participation rate of approximately 60%), were two (2) principals, eight (8) assistant principals, sixteen (16) counselors, one (1) dean of students/attendance, and three (3) teachers on special assignment.
Addressing the Research Questions
This section addresses the two research questions through a narrative and descriptive overview of the survey and interview data, with particular attention to perceived effectiveness of the tutoring center model and the presence and integration of the five features of a high school peer tutoring model. More detailed reports have been shared with each of the four partner sites as part of a member checking process and to guide quality improvement efforts at their site (see Chapter 3).
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Research Question 1 Findings
The following section addresses the first research question, How do the procedures, systems, and resources within four high school tutoring centers work together and align with what research has found to be important for effective peer tutoring at the secondary level? The study examines common themes and key differences among survey respondents (peers, teachers, and administrators) and interview participants (tutoring center directors). The common themes and key differences are drawn from practitioner perceptions about centralized peer tutoring through the lens of the five features: (a) peer tutors as mentors and academic coaches, (b) tutor preparation and support, (c) tutoring center dynamics, (d) integration with effective collaborative teacher teams, and integration with an embedded, academically structured study skills class.
In order to frame the answer to the first research question, this section begins with interpretation of responses by tutors, school administrators, and tutoring centers about the most critical features of tutoring centers (i.e., the features that matter most and make the model work). The section then looks at each of the five proposed, research-based features individually by exploring and interpreting participant responses. The section concludes with an analysis of the perceived effectiveness of the high school tutoring centers featured in this study.
Most Critical Features of Tutoring Centers Based on Practitioner Perceptions Tutors, administrators, and tutoring center directors were asked a related set of questions to determine their perspectives about the most important features of tutoring center model. For example, peer tutors were asked, “what processes and resources of the tutoring center matter the most/what makes the tutoring center work?”; administrators were asked, “what features of the tutoring center model in your school are most critical to students being successful?”; and tutoring center directors were asked “what are the features that matter most to the success of the tutoring
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center?” Their responses to the ‘what’ questions are synthesized to also help answer the ‘how’ question underlying tutoring center models. Thus, the interpretation of their responses help frame the answer to the first research question, how do the procedures, systems, and resources within four high school tutoring centers work together and align with what research has found to be important for effective peer tutoring at the secondary level?
Peer Tutor Reflections on what Makes the Tutoring Center Work
When asked, what makes the tutoring center work, peer tutors suggested a range of ideas that were coded and clustered into several major categories, as presented in Table 4.7. The categories can be generalized to include people (the tutors and directors), communication and relationships, the environment, resources, and the directive/optional nature of the pulling students. Direct quotes from tutors mapped to these categories will be used throughout the rest of chapter’s exploration of the five features. Those that most effectively highlight the integration of these features include statements like: “One on one student tutoring being reinforced by teachers and collaboration with teachers on what students struggle with.” Regarding the directive nature of the model, tutors were split on this topic: one tutor stated that “mandatory tutoring for certain students. They wouldn’t come in otherwise, but we can help them that way” while other tutors, especially from West HS, countered that making it directive doesn’t work. Tutors repeatedly noted that a welcoming, safe, productive environment is key to the model: “We pull down kids (from study skills class) and their teachers suggest them. We make them feel welcome and reward them. We try to make them feel as comfortable as possible.” Others noted the value of resource availability: “we are in an open environment with access to computers, printers, scratch paper, textbooks + more” and one of the math tutors shared that the model
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works because of “calculators, paper, pencils, answer keys. I say the keys because I usually use it
to check I’m fully understanding it before I show the student.”
Table 4.7: Tutor Perceptions about What Makes in Center by Most Common Themes
Q 14: What processes and resources of the tutoring center matter the most, in other words, what makes it work?
Total West HS North HS East HS Central HS
Item response count 166 60 45 31 30
Peer tutors and individualized support 50 15 12 13 10
Materials and supplies (answer keys, resources) 41 19 16 2 4
The directors and tutoring center staff 40 15 6 3 16
Communication and relationships 35 3 11 12 9
Environment - welcoming, productive & safe 19 8 3 4 4
Consistent systems and process 15 6 6 2 1
Directive and optional nature of pulling students for help 13 10 0 1 2
Tutor training 11 6 1 1 3
Administrator Reflections on the Most Critical Features of the Tutoring Center
Administrators were asked “What features of the tutoring center model in your school are most critical to students being successful?” (question 12 from the survey). Their responses often included multiple elements. They were coded and categorized by the most common themes, including access to students, the staff and tutors running the tutoring centers, tutor training, the environment, relationships and communication, and structured follow up (persistence).
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Ensuring students had access to the tutoring center during the school day was a dominant theme among administrators. One noted that access to students was the most critical feature, “The study skills class is the access point for 9th grade students. This is a MUST!” while another noted, “Access, throughout the school day. Being able to pull them out of study hall to work with them when they get behind, need to do make up work or retake a test is really helpful. ” An administrator from one of the schools noted the importance of the environment: “Making the tutoring center accessible, friendly, welcoming and helpful (reputation & results).” Several administrators noted the importance of the person running the centers, with one stating the most critical feature is “a very strong leader who is tough but gives a place for those students to belong and get help without feeling bad about it.” Drawing a connection to the importance of integration between tutoring centers and collaborative teacher teams, an administrator pointed to the most critical feature being “PLCs. The PLC for Math is intimately linked to the support provided in the TC. English is less intimately linked, and therefore, less efficient and effective.” Additional references by administrators included the flexibility and timeliness of the support, the systematic nature of pulling students based on classroom assessment data, and the ability to address individual student needs through personalized peer tutoring.
Tutoring Center Directors’ Reflections on the Features that Matter Most
Tutoring center directors contributed extensively during their interviews about the features that make tutoring centers work best, and they were asked specifically about the features that matter most for the success of the tutoring center model. Their views consistently emphasized the five features of effective tutoring centers and will be described in greater detail throughout this chapter.
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Feature 1 — Peer Tutors as Mentors and Academic Coaches
Perspectives from the peer tutors and administrators survey respondents and the director interview participants were collected using open-ended questions to reveal the dual nature of tutors as academic coaches and mentors (three questions from the tutor survey, two from the administrator survey, and one from the interviews with directors).
Purpose(s) of the Tutoring Center
To gauge perspectives of practitioners (tutors, administrators, and the tutoring center directors) were asked to provide insights as to “the main purpose of peer tutoring” at their schools. The survey respondents and interview participants identified ‘helping students pass classes/earn credits’ as the primary purpose of their centers (especially in Algebra 1). Descriptions of this “help” by the respondents was sorted into the following subcategories:
• Attending to work completion, make up work, and homework
• Supporting those who have fallen behind and struggle (for whatever reason)
• Re-teaching and retesting around essential learning outcomes
• Attending to skill development and remediation
• Focusing on learning and understanding
• Providing personalized peer tutoring
• Increasing engagement and confidence with school & content
• Relationships/mentoring and content support
While supporting struggling students academically was the most commonly reported purpose noted across all participant groups (as evident in the coded responses), participants across sites and groups also emphasized a multi-faceted set of purposes for peer tutoring, including: a focus on supporting content (skill development, work completion, pre-teaching and
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re-teaching) and building relationships (mentoring, modeling, confidence-building, and motivating); skill development and helping students pass classes/improve grades (which were nearly always presented as distinct and disconnected goals); and improving outcomes for struggling students and developing peer tutors as leaders.
The following section further examines the purpose(s) of peer tutoring identified by peer tutors, tutoring center directors, and administrators.
Peer tutor perceptions around the purposes of the tutoring center. With 178 of 183 responding to the prompt about the main purpose of peer tutoring, peer tutor comments were coded along four major themes (with some overlap). As Table 4.8 illustrates, peer tutors communicated that the purpose of tutoring was a) multi-purpose and aspirational, b) designed to help and support students, improve their understanding, and prevent course failure, c) mentoring and relationship focused, and d) an avenue to differentiate and personalize support by leveraging peer tutors. To a lesser extent, eight tutors noted that it benefited themselves in a variety of ways.
Table 4.8: Tutor Perceptions about Purposes of Peer Tutoring, Organized by Common Themes
Purposes of Peer Tutoring Survey count Item response count Multi- purpose, relational, and aspirational Help and support students, improve understanding, and prevent course failure Mentoring and relational Differentiate and personalize, leverage peers Benefit tutors
West 62 61 29 12 12 9 2
North 55 54 19 21 6 2 3
East 33 31 14 6 9 3 0
Central 33 32 11 11 9 9 3
Total 183 178 73 50 36 23 8
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Table 4.8 includes survey count, item response count, and responses organized into those five themes, by school. Immediately following are sample responses from tutors that best exemplify each theme.
Tutors pointed to the multi-faceted, relational, and aspirational goals of tutoring, including: “Main purpose benefited not only me as a tutor but the students I helped. We communicated and got to relate to each other.” In similar fashion, one peer tutor made the case that the goal is to “help freshman begin of get the hang of high school. To create bonds with the kids and be a good role model.” A tutor from the same school noted that peer tutoring is about “making a difference — may be miniscule to some, but to some students it’s a world of difference.” Pointing to an aspirational and compelling purpose of peer tutoring, one tutor described the purpose as being “the youth of the future” while another affirmed the importance supporting the high school transition: “Peer tutoring reaches mainly the freshman to give them a positive push as they adjust to a new faster paced environment in high school.”
One of the ways peer tutors mentored struggling students was to help acclimate freshmen to the school, including: making them feel welcome, encouraging them, getting to know them, connecting with them and relating to them. For example, one peer tutor said the purposes was to “help freshmen get on the right track in school, guide them, and help them maintain good grades.” Another noted that tutoring’s purpose is to reach “mostly the freshmen to give them a positive push as they adjust to a new faster paced environment in high school.” Also suggestive of mentoring as a key purpose, one tutor wrote that “it’s about getting them on the right path” and another believed the purpose was to “help freshmen with classes while giving them life advice as well.”
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Tutors also described the importance of helping students pass classes. Embedded within several of the comments about helping students pass classes, a number of tutors described the importance of conceptual understanding to, as one put it, “help students with concepts/work that they are struggling in in order to enable them to pass their classes.”
Tutors described how the model provides personalized supports to students who struggle with traditional classroom structures. For example, one tutor noted that the purpose of tutoring is “helping students who may not learn as well from the teacher. The teacher may teach students a way they don’t fully understand but peer tutors may explain the way to do the problem different.” Similarly, other tutors noted that the power of the model lies in helping to “teach the students through another student perspective and help them understand” while another pointed out that the goal is “helping kids that might need that extra one on one help, some kids can’t focus in a class full of students especially in high school.”
A handful of peer tutors described the personal benefits of tutoring, that peer tutoring was an easy way to earn a credit while helping others. Other described tutoring as a means of “simultaneously improving the leadership/teaching skills of the tutors.” One tutor pointed out that tutoring “helps me have a sense of satisfaction when I help a student understand something, and it helps me with my curriculum.”
Director perceptions of the purpose(s) of tutoring centers. Directors shared their thoughts about the purpose of peer tutoring primarily in response to an interview question about the purpose (question two of the first interview section). They also expressed ideas about the purpose of peer tutoring in responses to several other interview questions, including: “describe the nature of peer tutoring” and “describe the ideal tutoring session” (see Appendix J).
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When asked what they believed to be the purpose of the tutoring center, directors shared perspectives that ranged from the pragmatic (help freshmen pass classes) to the profound (create a learning community that links students across backgrounds with educators and community members and creates conditions to reduce opportunity gaps). As an example of the later response type, one director shared that the tutoring center model is powerful because it embraces the compelling purpose of providing “an opportunity for all students (including tutors) to be part of the learning process, to get a taste of learning math as a collaborative process of asking questions.” Echoing similar sentiments, a director from one of the other schools stated that the purpose of the center was to “provide a supportive intervention system in the school day to help students figure school out, develop communication skills with peers and teachers, and so much more.” Emphasizing both the purpose and the importance of peer tutoring, another director reminds peer tutors on a frequent basis that they are “the most critical piece” and that “working with you may be the first time these students experience success.”
Other directors revealed how the model helps to disrupt opportunity gaps with an emphasis upon building confidence and relationships, such as this reflection: “It is our job to give 2nd chances for students to be taught the material, for them to ask questions, to learn again, to practice what to do next.” Another way that peer tutoring reduces opportunity gaps is by providing leadership opportunities, and developing job skills (such as communication, responsibility, resiliency, working in a fast-paced and challenging environment, problem solving, taking initiative, etc.) for students from diverse backgrounds, something that six of the eight directors directly addressed during their interviews.
Another common refrain from directors is that the centers are ever-evolving, with increasing emphasis upon relationship-building: “At first, it was solely about helping students
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earn credits as freshmen so that they would be on track to graduate—but we have now melded SEL (Social Emotional Learning) elements into the framework to attend to the whole student.”
Administrator perceptions of the purpose(s) of tutoring centers. Responses by administrators regarding the purpose of peer tutoring and the tutoring center were coded and categorized into four major themes (28 of 30 responded to question #11 on the admin survey). The results closely aligned to the themes expressed by peer tutors and tutoring center directors and are well matched to research literature about the purposes of peer tutoring: a) help and support students to improve understanding, prevent course failure, and develop skills, b) differentiate, personalize, and leverage near-age peers as tutors in tutoring center environment, c) multi-purpose, relational, and aspirational, and d) provides leadership opportunity for tutors.
Examples that exemplify the themes include the purpose of providing “assistance for students that need it and provide leadership opportunities to student tutors.” Another administrator noted that the purpose of tutoring was “to have our best and brightest help other students to improve their academic skills. The truly remarkable result is that the peer tutors themselves grow in their knowledge of the subject they are tutoring as a result of being a peer tutor.”
Perspectives on Effective Tutoring Strategies
When describing effective tutoring strategies, peer tutors reinforced the multiple purposes of the model. In response to question 13 on the tutor survey (“What are the most effective strategies you use as a tutor”), peer tutors identified a host of preferred strategies that most benefited students. Open responses by peer tutors (with 170 of the 183 responding to the prompt) were coded and organized into five themes, including: (a) scaffolding with targeted feedback and error analysis, (b) mentoring and building relationships, (c) interactive questioning,
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(d) differentiating, being creative, and personalizing to meet individual needs, and (e) empowering student ownership of the learning. The response frequencies, organized by theme and across school sites, are available in Table 4.9. The most common themes that emerged from peer tutor coded responses included the importance of scaffolding, interactive questioning, and targeted feedback.
Table 4.9: Tutor Perceptions about Effective Strategies, Organized by Most Common Themes
Peer tutor survey question 13: “most effective strategies you use as a tutor” Response Count Scaffolding with targeted feedback and error analysis Mentoring and building relationships Interactive questioning Differentiate, be creative, and personalize to meet individual needs Empower student ownership of the learning
West HS 61 29 12 12 9 3
North HS 46 19 21 6 2 7
East HS 32 14 6 9 3 1
Central HS 31 11 11 9 9 1
Total 170 73 50 36 23 12
The considerable number of responses that were coded under the theme “mentoring and building relationships” affirm the dual purposes of peer tutoring and support the importance of affective strategies. Representative of the tone expressed by at least 50 tutors on the relational/mentoring strategies, one stated: “getting to know them helped a lot. Home life affected many of my kids, so knowing what’s going on helped me assist them with attendance or academic behavior.” One tutor described the importance of bringing “encouragement and enthusiasm” and another pointed out: “I try to create a personal relationship with the student, so I’m not seen as another person just trying to shove a bunch of numbers at them, but more so a peer attempting to help.” Present among tutor responses was the sensation that the tutors took
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pride and responsibility in helping students, potentially contributing to additional benefits of peer tutoring (such as increased levels of altruism, empathy, pride, motivation, sense of belonging, self-confidence and self-esteem).
Peer tutors can be empowered to approach ‘teaching’ creatively, including personalized academic and mentoring supports to engage students who struggle the most. Demonstrating how peer tutors can blend creativity, differentiation, and persistence in their approach to reaching students, one tutor championed the power of “continually coming up with new ways to explain things that appeal to a variety of kids.” Tutors and directors, in response to the first question from section three of the interview (“describe the ideal tutoring session”), noted the use of a variety of modalities during the sessions, such as: small white boards at the table with students; large white boards on the walls; scratch paper readily available at every table; read-aloud and supportive writing activities; and some even integrated games and manipulatives. Many of these methods were described as powerful ways to differentiate, personalize, scaffold and fade away the supports to build independence to and to get the student to, in the words of one director,
“own their own learning.”
Tutoring center directors emphasized that ‘content support’ and ‘practice with question asking’ as strategies used in “ideal tutoring sessions”, and nearly all noted the importance of focusing on relationship building/mentoring with their tutors. Additionally, one director noted that it is important that tutors “get students explaining their reasoning throughout the process” (not just when they get something wrong). Others focused on “backing up to where the student is” to help work from the point of misunderstanding. Directors also cited the importance of being encouraging, focusing on positives before correcting students (“2 stars and a wish”), as well as allowing enough wait time for students to show what they know or don’t know.
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Directors and students alike frequently mentioned that the tutors learn a lot from each other, especially when experienced tutors are partnered with new tutors.
Feature 2 — Tutor Preparation and Support Several questions helped gauge participant perceptions about the importance of tutor recruiting, training, monitoring, support, and feedback. This section, including responses from a range of survey and interview questions, presents analysis across the four cases and participant groups, including tutoring center directors, peer tutors, and to a lesser degree, teachers and administrators (because the latter two groups had less knowledge and understanding about this aspect of the model). As this section will illustrate, study participants across all groups emphasized the importance of initial training and supporting the tutors throughout the semester. Peer Tutor Perceptions on being Prepared and Supported
To help gauge peer tutor perspectives around preparation and support, this section analyzes six survey prompts. Three of the peer tutor survey questions are clustered together to indirectly gauge the perspectives of peer tutors about the supportive climate of the tutoring center and serve as a proxy measure of the impact of the training, support, and tutoring environment. These are presented in Table 4.10, including: (a) “My experience this year as a peer tutor was positive (Q4)”, (b) “I feel valued by the teachers running the tutoring center (Qll)”, and (c) “Being a peer tutor made a difference in my school (Q12b)”. The second set of survey prompts, available further into this section as Table 4.12, directly measure respondent beliefs about training and preparation and included: (a) “I felt prepared to provide tutoring in ‘that’ content area (Q3)”, (b) “the training I received at the beginning of the semester prepared me for working with students in the center (Q5)”, and (c) “the ongoing training and feedback provided throughout the semester helped me improve as a tutor (Q6)”. All six of these peer tutor survey
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Full Text

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EXAMINING THE FEATURES OF HIGH SCHOOL PEER POWERED TUTORING CENTERS by JEREMY KOSELAK

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Jeremy Koselak

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1. 2.

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Peer Tutoring in High Schools Classwide Reciprocal, Peer Mediated All students Same age Targeted (across classrooms) Unidirectional Targeted Cross Age or Same Age Centralized Unidirectional Directive to Some and Open to All Cross age or Same Age

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1. 2.

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Feature 1 Peer Tutors as Mentors and Academic Coaches Unidirectional, cross age format Peer mediated Focused on a clear set of purposes Emphasize mentoring and relationships Differentiate and personalize to meet student needs Attention to tutor student matching Provide structured choice as much as possible Empower student ownership of learning Tutoring Strategies Interactive questioning Wait time, think time Scaffolding Targeted Feedback Error analysis

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Feature 2 Tutor Preparation and Support Diverse and persistent recruiting that leads to variety, quantity, and quality of tutors Emphasize a clear set of purposes for tutoring Train tutors on questioning and feedback strategies through copious practice and role play Content support provided to tutors as part of initial and ongoing training Structured guidance and support Monitor tutoring sessions Provide frequent feedback and modeling sessions Incentivize, recognize, and celebrate tutors

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Feature 3 Tutoring Center Dynamics Collaborative communication across networks Led by a champion who is 'respectfully relentless and relentlessly respectful' Empowered by integration with PLCs, study skills, and tiered support system Supported by administration, counselors, and departments Environment ( p hysical and c ultural) Welcoming, positive, safe, and productive Open all day, nearly every day Open to all students and directive to those most in need Resources and materials readily available Operational s tructures and p rocesses Convergent use of data to identify and pull students Real time support linked to classroom formative assessment cycles Effective re teaching retesting/ revising procedures Flexible, variable dosage levels matched to student need Support more students with accessing grade level content

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Integrati on with Effective Collaborative Teacher Teams Direct engagement and partnership with tutoring center(s) ) , ideally skills based, and/or standards/proficiency based Support common formative assessment (CFA) c ycle Effective PLC practices in place with a focus on collaboratively examining student work to improve teaching and learning outcomes Explicit emphasis on improving Tier 1 instruction rather than overreliance on

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Integration with Embedded, Academically Structured Study Skills Class Direct engagement and partnership with tutoring center(s) Embedded in the school day Distributed throughout the school day (offered all periods) Access to most freshmen, especially those with academic risk factors Flexible, floating curriculum (not missing core content while getting tutored) St ructured guidance, advisory, monitoring, and accountability (grade checks, organizational skills and goal setting/tracking taught) An academic focus ( productive learning environment, homework assistance)

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1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

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Freshmen Incoming Risk Factors from 8th Grade Count for Entire Data set (EOY 2017 18) Percent of Freshmen with no 8th Grade CMAS * data Math percent ile 16 17 (average) ELA percentile 16 17 (average) Cumulati ve GPA (average) % of Freshmen with no 8th Grade GPA data West 326 30% 50.0 50.9 2.67 10% North 545 33% 49.1 48.0 2.62 12% East 353 39% 34.6 28.9 2.23 20% Central 395 41% 40.5 44.0 2.43 12% Total 1619 36% 44.4 43.8 2.51 13% * CMAS (Colorado Measure of Academic Standards) is the annual state test given grades 3 8, for Math and English Language Arts, as well as Science, which includes a scale score and percentile rank. Cumulative GPA is calculated quarterly in grades 6 8.

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1. 2.

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opulation is based on roster extraction from Student Information Systems .

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Racial Composition of Peer Tutor Population* Semester 1 Semester 2 School Overall Demographic Composition West HS Count Percent Count Percent Percent Asian 5 7% 4 5% 2% Black / African American 2 3% 1 1% % Hispanic / Latino 17 22% 12 14% 25% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 0 0% 1 1% 1% White 52 68% 49 58% 62% WHS Total 76 67 North HS Count Percent Count Percent Percent American Indian or Alaska Native 1 1% 0 0% 1% Asian 3 3% 1 1% 2% Black/African American 3 3% 1 1% 7% Hispanic/Latino 22 25% 23 23% 25% White 60 67% 74 75% 5 7 % NHS Total 89 99 East HS Count Percent Count Percent Percent American Indian or Alaska Native 3 6% 0 0% 2 % Asian 6 12% 3 7% 2 % Black / African American 5 10% 4 9% 1 3 % Hispanic / Latino 10 20% 14 32% 4 5 % Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 0 0% 1 2% 1 % White 26 52% 22 50% 33% EHS Total 50 44 Central HS Count Percent Count Percent Percent Asian 1 1% 4 6% 2 % Black / African American 8 8% 6 9% 9% Hispanic / Latino 43 45% 19 30% 34% White 44 46% 35 55% 47% CHS Total 96 64 opulation is based on roster extraction from Student Information Systems .

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opulation is based on roster extraction from Student Information Systems .

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9 th 10 th 11 th 12 th No response % 11 th & 12 th Total Sample n % n % n % n % n % N West HS 4 6% 21 34% 16 26% 21 34% 0 0% 60% 62 North HS 0% 14 25% 16 29% 25 45% 0 0% 74% 55 East HS 0% 9 27% 10 30% 13 39% 1 3% 69% 33 Central HS 1 3% 7 21% 13 39% 11 33% 1 3% 72% 33 Grand Total 5 3% 51 28% 55 30% 70 38% 2 1% 68% 183

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Tutoring Experience by School (# of Semesters) Count of Survey # P ercent West 62 1 Semester 31 50% 2 Semesters 22 35% more than 2 Semesters 9 15% North 55 1 Semester 21 38% 2 Semesters 21 38% more than 2 Semesters 13 24% East 33 1 Semester 16 48% 2 Semesters 12 36% more than 2 Semesters 5 15% Central 33 1 Semester 13 39% 2 Semesters 13 39% more than 2 Semesters 7 21% Grand Total 183 1 Semester 81 44% 2 Semesters 68 37% more than 2 Semesters 34 19%

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School English Interventions Math Science Grand Total West HS 6 6 North HS 7 9 6 22 East HS 4 4 Central HS 4 1 9 7 21 Grand Total 11 1 28 13 53

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Purposes of Peer Tutoring Survey count Item response count Multi purpose , relational, and aspirational Help and support students, improve understanding, and prevent course failure Mentoring and relational Differentiate and personalize, leverage peers Benefit tutors

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Peer tutor survey question 13: ost e ffective strategies you use as a Response Count Scaffolding with targeted feedback and error analysis Mentoring and building relationships Interactive questioning Differentiate, be creative, and personalize to meet individual needs Empower student ownership of the learning

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(Total) West North Central West North Central West 33 North 33 55 Central 62

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3.0399 3.2 t 3.0399 3.2000

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West North Central West North Central West North Central

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t he tutoring center is supportive of our work as a collaborative team w e work well with the tutoring center to facilitate re teaching and testing of major tests/assignments o ur team uses co mmon assessments to identify students who need additional support through the

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tutoring center he p artnership with the tutoring center helps improve our PLC work Q3. The tutoring center is supportive of our work as a collaborative team (Total) 4.679 53 0.5468 4.571 21 0.5976 4.000 4 0.8165 4.818 22 0.3948 5.000 6 0 Q 2. We work well with the tutoring center to facilitate re teaching and testing of major tests/assignments (Total) 4.509 53 9 3 % 4.714 21 0.4629 100% 3.500 4 1.0000 75% 4.364 22 0.9535 86% 5.000 6 0 100% Q1. Our team uses co mmon assessments to identify students who need additional support through the tutoring center (Total) 4.547 53 9 3 % 4.667 21 0.577 4 95% 4.000 4 0.816 5 75% 4.409 22 1.0537 9 1 % 5.000 6 0 100.0% Q7. The p artnership with the tutoring center helps improve our PLC work (Total) 4.17 53 79% 4.238 21 0.9952 71% 3.500 4 0.5774 50% 4.318 22 0.8937 9 6 % 3.833 6 0.7528 6 7 %

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the tutoring center is supportive of our work as a collaborative team ( Q3 ). S 3.500 1.000 4.714 0.4629 3.95 5 3.500 1.000

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t Q2. We work well with the tutoring center to facilitate re teaching and testing of major tests/assignments (Total) 3.95474 4 p = 0.00063 3.794733 p = 0.00528 Q3. The tutoring center is supportive of our work as a collaborative team 3.2113 9 p = 0.0037 3.7947 the tutoring center is supportive of our work as a collaborative team For this prompt, there w 0.8165 4.818 , 0.3948 3.211 4

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2.2104

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Q3. The tutoring center is supportive of our work as a collaborative team (Total) 4.679 53 Q2. We work well with the tutoring center to facilitate re teaching and testing of major tests/assignments (Total) 4.509 53 9 3 % 96% 9 1 % 8 5 % 1 100% Q1. Our team uses common assessments to identify students who need additional support through the tutoring center (Total) 4.547 53 9 3 % 28 96% 11 7 3 % 13 100% 1 100% Q7. The partnership with the tutoring center helps improve our PLC work (Total) 4.17 53 79% 28 11 13 1

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t Q1. Our team uses common assessments to identify students who need additional support through the tutoring center 2.2104 p = 0.013

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4.269 28 4.429 3.364 23 3.391

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t 4.280 4 p = 3.523 7 p =

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Number of f reshmen in s tudy s kills /study hall Total n umber of f reshmen e nrolled in the school % of f reshmen a ccessible West Most freshmen have Study Hall 330 close to 90 % * North 352 554 64% East 144 351 41% Central 261 424 62%

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Freshmen tutoring center usage 2017 18 West HS North HS East HS Central HS Grand Total* Most Intense Count 11 69 15 29 124 % 3.4% 12.7% 4.3% 7.3% 7.7% Somewhat Intense Count 8 83 123 35 249 % 2.5% 15.2% 34.8% 8.9% 15.4% Less Intense Count 40 69 3 84 196 % 12.3% 12.7% 0.9% 21.3% 12.1% Occasional Count 0 0 0 56 56 % 0% 0% 0% 14.2% 3.5% No support due to student refusal or no access Count 32 0 0 0 32 % 9.82% 0% 0% 0% 1.98% No support needed, offered, or recorded Count 235 324 212 191 962 % 72.1% 59.4% 60.1% 48.4% 59.4% Total Freshmen Enrollment Count 326 545 353 395 1619

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Agreement Likert scale, 1 =strongly disagree; 2= disagree; 3 = neutral; 4 = agree; 5 = strongly agree Item Response Count Mean Median Mode Std. Deviation % who agreed or strongly agreed Q12d: West 61 3.721 4 4 0.8192 59% North 49 4.265 4 5 0.7296 8 4 % East 33 3.697 4 4 1.0454 70 % Central 33 3.818 4 4 0.9170 6 4 % Total 176 3.886 4 4 0.8871 6 9 % 0.7296 3.721 0.8192 0.7296 3.697 1.0454

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t Q12d. A

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Agreement Likert scale, 1 =strongly disagree; 2= disagree; 3 = neutral; 4 = agree; 5 = stro ngly agree Item Response Count Mean West North East Central West North East Central 5.175 5 t Q9. The access point* for freshmen is effective 5.175 5 p = 0.00023

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t 3.331

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Q4. The tutoring center helps struggling students pass my class (Total) 4.472 52 0.5752 96% 4.52 4 21 0.511 8 100% 3.5 00 4 0.577 4 50% 4.59 1 22 0.5032 100% 4.6 00 5 0.5477 100% Q6. The tutoring center helps more students successfully gain access to grade level content (Total) 4.308 52 0.8053 81% 4.190 21 0.9284 76% 3.250 4 0.5000 25% 4.619 21 0.4976 96% 4.333 6 0.8165 83% Q5. Peer tutors are effective at helping struggling students (Total) 3.75 52 0.9262 68% 3.524 21 0.9808 57% 2.500 4 1.0000 25% 4.190 21 0.6016 86% 3.833 6 0.7528 6 7 %

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0.5032 0.577 4 3.9116 0.5118 0.5774 3.6035 0.4976 0.5000 5.0399

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T Q4. The tutoring center helps struggling students pass my class Agreement Likert North HS and East HS 3.9116 p = 0.0007 Central HS and East HS 3.6035 p = 0.0015 Q6. TC helps students more students successfully gain access to grade level content Agreement Likert North HS and East HS 5.0399 p = 0.00004 Q5. Peer tutors are effective at helping struggling students Agreement Likert North HS and East HS 4.6444 p = 0.0001 0.6016 1.00 4.6444

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Mean Median Mode Response Count ( n) Std. Deviation % Agree or Strongly Agree Q1. The tutoring center is supportive of freshmen 4.767 5 5 30 0.7739 97% Q2. The tutoring center helps struggling freshmen earn credits 4.621 5 5 29 0.6219 90%* Q3. The tutoring center helps more students successfully gain access to grade level content 4.500 4.5 5 30 0.5085 100%

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Improvement in on time Graduation rate (slope), 2010 2015 WHS NHS EHS CHS Non Traditional Schools District State African American Total 4.4% 1.7% 0.4% 8.2% 0.7% 1.5% 1.4% African American Female 1.2% 5.5% 1.3% 6.7% 3.0% 2.9% 1.4% African American Male 5.8% 0.3% 0.1% 9.3% 1.3% 0.4% 1.4% Hispanic Total 1.5% 0.6% 0.9% 3.2% 1.5% 1.6% 2.4% Hispanic Female 4.0% 0.0% 2.0% 2.3% 3.0% 2.7% 2.4% Hispanic Male 0.5% 1.3% 0.6% 4.0% 0.4% 0.8% 2.4% Economically Disadvantaged 0.1% 3.6% 0.2% 4.4% 1.7% 1.3% 1.2% ELL 0.5% 1.7% 2.4% 8.0% 3.9% 3.6% 2.4% IEP 1.4% 0.4% 0.5% 1.0% 1.9% 1.0% 0.4% GT 1.7% 0.3% 3.5% 0.2% 5.3% 0.9% 0.2% White Total 0.5% 0.6% 1.7% 1.8% 1.8% 0.4% 0.5% White Female 1.3% 0.1% 1.0% 1.1% 3.0% 0.5% 0.5% White Male 0.4% 1.0% 2.3% 2.4% 0.6% 0.2% 0.6% Total Graduate rate 0.3% 0.9% 0.4% 2.3% 1.6% 0.8% 1.0% CHS Base Count, as % of Total Base Economically Disadvantaged Non white IEP ELL 2010 31.9% 28.1% 8.5% 2.4% 2011 40.2% 37.9% 7.7% 4.3% 2012 40.8% 38.1% 6.9% 3.8% 2013 45.4% 45.4% 7.9% 6.4% 2014 50.6% 42.9% 5.6% 6.4% 2015 51.2% 43.8% 6.4% 6.2% 2016 54.3% 50.0% 8.4% 8.2% 2017 55.4% 47.3% 8.6% 7.9% % of Total Graduation Base, change 2010 17 (slope) Economically Disadvantaged Non white IEP ELL Overall yearly graduation Rate improvement EHS 2.9% 1.6% 0.5% 1.4% 0.6% CHS 3.2% 2.5% 0.0% 0.8% 1.8% WHS 2.3% 0.6% 0.3% 0.4% 0.1% NHS 2.8% 1.2% 0.1% 0.4% 1.1% Non Traditional 1.3% 0.2% 0.5% 0.2% 2.4% District 2.4% 1.1% 0.1% 0.5% 0.7% State 1.5% 1.0% 0.1% 0.4% 0.9%

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Training Day 1 objectives involve laying out the scope and importance of the work of peer tutoring, while providing clarity regarding expectations, roles, and responsibilities. I n addition, students will be reminded of the benefits and impact that their actions have on themselves and the students they will be helping. By the end of the first day, all tutors should leave with the following concepts clearly understood: 1) Treat the s tudents as if they are the most important person in the room. 2) Tutoring only works if you establish trust and communication. 3) The Tutoring Center is successful (helping students reach graduation) because of peer tutors. The following outline describes key conversations to have with tutors during this first day of training. Introduction o Start by expressing appreciation for their willingness help their school and acknowledge their sacrifice (a free period, personal time, elective class, etc.). o P rovide a quick reminder of the extrinsic and intrinsic benefits they receive from being a peer tutor: Looks great on a transcript and for college and job applications Letter of recommendation from the TC director o Point out the impact tutors have on others: Some of these students might not graduate without our help. Some of these students might not have anyone else fighting for them. Some of these students need to see what this school is about. o Improves marketable skills for your future: Strengthens your individual skills and often helps you in your own classes Strengthens your personal communication and teaching skills o You represent _______, and this program makes the whole school look good. o Remind them this is a class and there are only three ways to fail: Not showing up Breaking confidentiality

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Unwilling to tutor Confidentiality o This is a non negotiable requirement every tutor must agree to. o As a tutor, you will be working with students and will potentially have access to their grades o r test scores. This information cannot and will not be shared or discussed with anyone else. This includes grading, data entry or simply seeing a test score. o Even discussing grades in the hallway is a breach of confidentiality. o A confidentiality agreement (most districts/schools have these) must be signed and followed; transcript. Additional Responsibilities o Not every tutor will be tuto ring every day. If not engaged in tutoring you should: Clean Organize Ask if there is something you could do Be otherwise productive (research ways to help improve the TC, student engagement, working on your own homework, etc.) Never be a distraction to the learning of others! Problem Students o It is not the job of the student tutor to discipline or deal with exceptionally difficult students; that privilege belongs to the director. o If you find yourself having difficulty with a student, let the director know. Often we share the work load of high needs students, so no one gets too stressed out. o On the flip side, you will find yourself working with students whom you really enjoy. This is fine, as long as you are actually helping the student. Al so, let the director know so you can be paired up accordingly. o Sometimes, you will find a challenging student latch on to a specific tutor; keep in mind you may be the one person who can actually make a difference with this student. How to Treat the Stud ent o Treat them as if they are the most important person in the room. Everything else will fall into place. o More specifics will be provided on Day 2. o -ask questions.

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o o Give your director a clue (without yelling it out) to let them know tutors should be switched or additional support is needed. Guided Tour o Work area o Location of answer keys and other resources o Study hall o Sign in location Typical Day in Review (could be done with the tour) o Check the daily objective o Match up with a student or two with a common topic o Check out the answer keys assigned to you o Tutor the student(s) o Put keys away and clean up o Report status to the director Being the Face of the Tutoring Center o From time to time, there will be visitors and community volunteers in the Center. It is important to realize that you are the face of the TC and your actions and attitudes represent the school. o Help welcome visitors. o Trea t them with friendliness, respect, and be willing to share your experiences with them. Ending Thoughts o This program will not work unless you want to do this. o We are a team in this endeavor and need to support one another. In order for that to work su ccessfully, it requires good communication, involvement, and teamwork. o Your feedback is needed the good and the bad. o In general, students want to take the path of least resistance; make doing the right thing the easiest path. o When in doubt, ASK A QUESTION! o End the day with these reminders: Treat the students as if they are the most important person in the room. This program only works if we have trust and communication. The Tutoring Center is successful (helping all reach graduation) because of pee r tutors.

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Training Day 2 The second day of training begins the foundational work of training students how to tutor. Keep in mind that good tutoring goes beyond simply pairing students up to work together. Tutors must blend a variety of skills together in an artful and effective way. They are at once teachers, cheerleaders, role models, and mentors. It is the The most effective way to train tutors is through role playing and targeted feedback. The role playing provides a safe and fun way for students to work through common and difficult scenario s they are likely to face. Peer tutors tend to do a lot of the thinking and talking in early practice sessions, allowing only nominal time for the student to process and respond. Tutors do not especially like the discomfort they experience when students st ruggle. They understandably want to move the student out of that place of not knowing into a place of knowing. They prefer to do so quickly and efficiently, sometimes at the risk of the students not owning the learning. The role playing and practice sessio ns should provide peer tutors ample opportunity to ask questions that may result in slow response times. This training process is an interactive approach that challenges tutors to clarify what effective tutoring strategies look like. The role playing, with embedded support by the director, also highlights how tutors can empower students to become more active in their learning process. The role playing scenarios remind everyone involved that the work of tutors goes beyond conveying content or procedural abi lity. Tutors must help build something far more important: student confidence. The belief a student gains in themselves by understanding the material will sustain a student s we noted in chapter 1, the impact from helping a student build a sense of efficacy is at the top of education research literature (Hattie, 2012) and peer tutors must be fully aware of this goal from the beginning. The objective of the second day is to t rain tutors to recognize both desirable and ineffective tutoring strategies. Additionally, the day is intended to help tutors recognize potential pitfalls in tutoring and clarify what an acceptable end product looks like. Make sure by the end of the day st udents leave with the following points of tutoring in mind: 1) -they do the writing. 2) -you ask questions and the student does the telling. 3) -allow the student to prove to you they know it. 4) Back up to me et them where they are with the content. 5) Provide feedback in a positive and specific way.

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Begin the day by recapping the three main ideas of the first day. Then follow the ensuing narrative outline for Day 2. Model the Tutor : Have a student do a problem and model the tutor role for them. The other tutors should watch and listen for desirable and ineffective tutoring strategies. The director plays the role of a tutor in order to model both desirable and ineffective tutoring ac tions. For example the director should sample from both sides of this table in order to clarify what makes a quality tutoring session: Do's and Don'ts of Peer Tutoring Debrief: Have the tutors verbalize the desirable and ineffective strategies they observed. Focus the conversation around the essentials: o -they do the writing. o -you ask questions and the student does the telling. A master tutor can take a kid from clueless to confident by only asking questions. o -allow the student to prove to you the y know the material. The director must trust you when you say the student understands a concept . o done. o Discuss possible methods of ensuring the conversation stay positive, sometimes referred to as what it is called, encourages tutors to focus on specific things students did well before offering corrective guidance. For ex balanced the equation ( o Share some effective questions/prompts that get students thinking and demonstr ating understanding. Desirable Tutoring Actions Ineffective Tutoring Actions Back up to meet them where they are with the content Ask questions Provide wait time Illustrate and verbalize the thought process (show work) Use scratch paper Give positive feedback more than corrective (negative) Write for the student Tell them the answers Assume they know L ook at your cell phone or get distracted Rush them

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Model the Student: The director should pick a student to practice being a tutor while the director plays the role of a struggling, disengaged student. Done well, this will give them an idea of what challenges peer tutors might encounte r. The other tutors should be observing the exchange while looking to ies. As the director portraying a struggling student, model those words and behaviors common to struggling students in your building. For instance: o o follows up with a clarifying question (because o Make a mistake to see if they catch it. o Get distracted. o o Just guess answers until you get it right and see if the tutor realizes you actually had no understanding (this is also a common game for struggling students to play). o Try to get them to write/think for you. o Try to get them talking about something else. Debrief o Have the tutors give feedback on both the desirable and ineffective strategies they saw. o Have the tutors identify the things you were trying to do as a student to distract from learning. o Review worksheet. o Highlight the following key conc epts: Count the small victories (sometimes just getting a student to put pencil to paper is worth celebrating). despite distractions). Asking Questions: As this chapter suggests, the quality of a tutoring session de pends on many things, including building relationships, allowing wait time and mistakes, and providing positive feedback and targeted support. But it also calls on tutors to ask effective questions and to scaffold appropriately. Bringing these facets of qu ality tutoring together leads to deeper ownership of learning by the students. The first few days of training provide ample opportunity for the director to model and discuss effective questioning/prompting techniques. However, training tutors to ask quest ions which support learning is a process, not an event. After introducing a few basic question stems (see

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While having a bank of prescriptive questions is a good starting point, tutors will need to be comfortable and flexible enough to adapt to various contents and conditions. The director therefore must regularly enhance the capacity of tutors to be masters of asking questions that get student s thinking and demonstrating their understanding. Mentor Discussion o Model behaviors of a mature, engaged student o Follow the school rules. o Show students that you are here for them: You are NOT on your phone just waiting for them to ask a question. You are frequently checking their work. You remain positive. o Often times, even if these students want to do well, they do not know how. Show them. o Lead by example and offer encouragement. o Find common interests and get students involved. Ending Thoughts o Review the big ideas from Day 1. o Emphasize the expectation that these practice sessions provide the basics of tutoring. Tutors will polish their skills over the remainder of the semester. o Treat the students like they are the most impo rtant person in the room. This program only works if we have trust and communication. -they do the writing. -you ask questions and they do the telling. -they prove to you they know it. Back up to meet stud ents where they are. Make sure feedback is thoughtful, specific, and positive. Training Day 3 As previously mentioned, a primary fear new tutors have is not knowing the material thoroughly enough. It is not uncommon to hear a calculus student state they ar e unsure if they would be successful at know that much about writing. Day 3 is the time to help alleviate their fear. This review often leads to resp do

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have the chance to stop and look over what they will be tutoring. This willingness to recognize and itally important skillset to develop early in the process and should be part of the regular Tutoring Center routine. refreshing their memories about the curriculum they are most likely to be supporting. With a bit of director led instruction, the tutors develop a better underst anding of the essential ideas, the end result, potential pitfalls, and specific approaches that will be used by various teachers for the first unit of study. Pre teaching core concepts also helps put tutors at ease around the content and demonstrates that they will be supported in their roles. The tutors then utilize upcoming homework, practice tests, or writing samples with rubrics from the first unit of the curriculum to practice with one another (rotating roles as tutor, student, and observer/feedback gi ver). These objectives can be completed in an integrated fashion (sometimes this requires 2 days). We outline the two approaches below, best done sequentially: Developing answer keys Have the tutors create answer keys to the materials from the first unit. They could do a practice test or maybe the first homework of the upcoming chapter in order to: o o Highlight t he big picture of the unit. o Discuss how the teachers have decided to teach the big ideas. o Get any basic questions out of the way so they can feel more confident when tutoring. o Identify common struggles and error patterns likely to be exhibited by students. Mock tutoring Once they have received some instruction and completed some of the assignment, have the tutors pair up. One will be the tutor, equipped with a key, and one will be the student supplied with a blank worksheet. In participating in the role pla y, they should work together to complete the worksheet, then switch roles and try another assignment. This lets tutors practice without much pressure. It does take a little longer and keys will have to be available ahead of time, but it allows the director the opportunity to address the needs of the tutors while also modeling effective questioning and feedback strategies. Ending Thoughts o As this initial training ends, tutors often think of others who might be good tutors. Capitalize on that potential for adding tutors now and for the future. o Informally quiz them about effective tutoring strategies. o Ask tutors to give feedback regarding their training days.

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It is important to note that training is not limited to these outlined days. It is an ongoing and emb edded process. It is the role of the director to observe, circulate, model good strategies, and provide feedback to tutors over the course of the entire term. In other words, frequent formative assessment is powerful for developing high quality tutors, jus t as it is critical to quality instruction. Tutors also need reminders about the importance of the work. They will spend considerable time with disengaged, poorly skilled students who often lack supportive family structures (in addition to being immersed i n negative peer networks at school). Tutors often find it quite a surprise that some of these students may not want the help. However, when it comes to the opportunity gap, we simply cannot afford to leave something so important to choose and chance. The o dds are stacked against this group of students, as Mike Mattos (2014) and John Hattie (2009) remind us (see Chapter 1). We can be a valuable resource for these rajectory. Beyond teaching struggling students math or literacy skills, tutors also need to convince students that they are capable and that it is worth it for them to put forth effort. Causing this shift in mindset requires the collective efforts of the throughout the academic experience has been that they are no good at certain subjects or sc hool altogether. For this reason (and others), they dislike school and see little relevance to it. This is why it is so important that tutors are trained to provide encouraging feedback to students. Accordingly, directors not only need to build the content knowledge and questioning skills of peer tutors, they also must strengthen their capacity to nurture self efficacy and resilience. Through this effort, good peer tutors often Additional Ways to Ensure a Successful Tutoring Environment Beyond the structures outlined in this chapter, there are several ways to increase the effectiveness of the tutoring environment. We share several ideas below for directors to consider. Celebrate : Honoring the hard work and sacrifices of the tutors is not only a way to improve recruitment -it is a vital component to enhance the culture and extend visibility of the Center. Beyond token (yet effective) gestures like occasionally providing treats to a class of tutors, many scho ols take celebration and recognition further. For instance, schools might host a banquet honoring all the tutors (peer and community volunteers) who have contributed. Schools could also purchase t shirts, designed by tutors, for tutors, and even share a se t with their school board and superintendent. An additional way to recognize their hard work is to set up fun team building nights (bowling, go see a movie, laser tag, mini golfing, do community service together, etc.). These interactive celebrations and t eam building opportunities enhance the sense of community and highlight the value of tutors for others to see.

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Provide Feedback : As noted previously, the director increases tutor effectiveness by providing them with continuous and specific feedback. Feedba ck can be given both informally and formally through a rubric with a focus on improving, growing and learning together. This is ideally done with each tutor at least once per semester, including a self evaluation followed by a discussion about areas for improvement. This level of reflection is helpful in building their resilience in accepting feedback and engaging in the improvement process. In this respect, the Tutoring Center is also an incubator for cultivating insightful future leaders. Solicit Feedback : Tutoring Center directors would be wise to solicit peer tutor feedback regularly (formally and informally) about the TC and how to improve it. This feedback could be easily gathered during the semester (quick surveys, suggestion box, etc .) and in a more structured way during the final exam. The final exam should be simple and formatted in way to gather systematic feedback and suggestion for improving the Center. It should also require that tutors recommend other tutors, for the sake of ma intaining and growing the center. Perhaps most importantly, the final exam offers tutors the opportunity to reflect about how their experience affected them and the students they served.