Implementing Equity-Based, Personalized Learning in Your District
Following years of interrupted learning and additional challenges faced during the pandemic, the need for implementing equity-based, personalize learning in districts has only grown. With recent national assessment data demonstrating the alarming need for immediate and proactive academic support, many districts have turned to on-demand tutoring to provide personalized learning support in the classroom and out of it. This adoption is unsurprising– tutoring has been consistently linked in educational studies as one of the most high-impact interventions and academic support tools in the K-12 space.
A key component addressing these knowledge gaps and moving the educational world ahead is implementing support structures rooted in equity. Equity in education aims to provide equal opportunity to all students as they build the skills and knowledge they need in order to excel.
On-demand tutoring is an essential part of providing equitable support by reducing barriers that may prevent students from accessing traditional tutoring. However, simply signing a district up for on-demand tutoring may not fully meet your equity initiatives. Just like any new resource or program, the implementation process is key to ensure that on-demand tutoring is continuously contributing to equity and academic support initiatives. To help during this implementation process, we’ve compiled a quick overview of essential strategies to include when bringing personalized learning support to your district.
Communication is key in enabling students to access tutoring support
Districts new to an on-demand tutoring program, like Pear Deck Tutor (formerly TutorMe), will need to implement a clear communication plan that will allow them to share information with teachers, students, and caregivers about what the resource is, how to access it, and how it can support their goals. The Pear Deck Tutor team provides continuous support for our partners, including communication materials, that can be incorporated throughout these processes.
Communicating with teachers
In order to ensure adoption of your new on-demand tutoring program, start by sharing information with your teachers. Your teachers need to know:
- What the program is
- How to access it
- How it will help them achieve their goals in the classroom
- What support it can provide to their students
Make sure you include a clear plan for providing teachers with any training they might need to access the program, as well as how they can make the most of it. Provide details about key parts of the program, like Pear Deck Tutor's Writing Lab, which can provide one-on-one support to students who may be struggling with the writing process. As teachers learn more about the platform, they will be more likely to share information about it with their students and make the most of it.
This step is also essential in ensuring that support programs are implemented holistically across your district. While virtual tutoring may appear as an additional support resource for students at home, it is also a high-leverage intervention and enrichment tool that can be used in the classroom. By facilitating knowledge and communication with education staff, districts can create a pathway to allow for virtual tutoring to be leveraged more often, increasing its efficacy on student learning.
Communicating with students
Students are the main focus when implementing any kind of academic support program, including on-demand tutoring. If students aren't accessing those essential tools, then they are missing out on essential support. Increasing student awareness of on-demand tutoring is a key component in equitable implementation. Make sure students know:
- What the program is
- How they can access it
- What it can do for them
You may want to make sure that students see regular reminders about the on-demand tutoring platform, including signs throughout the school, emails, and handouts. This is also where teacher buy-in becomes essential. By incorporating tutoring during the school day, students learn to utilize this resource naturally with their learning process. Instead of being something extra to the side, tutoring becomes a routine integrated throughout the day.
Communicating with caregivers
Student caregivers are often a driving force for utilizing tools like on-demand tutoring programs. Caregivers often know where students are struggling and where they are most likely to need support. Unfortunately, many caregivers, especially in low-income districts, may not have the means to get their students to in-person tutoring or to take advantage of resources directly provided by the school. On-demand tutoring is a great way to address parent concerns and provide an additional way for them to support their students. Caregivers need to know:
- How to access the program
- How they can view student achievements and progress
- That the program is free to them
- What benefits the program can provide for their students
By providing that critical information to caregivers, you can often increase student adoption of your new on-demand tutoring platform.
Communicating throughout the year
As you implement personalized learning through on-demand tutoring, make sure you have a plan in place that will help with communication throughout the year. You don't want to simply send out information at the beginning of the year, then fail to mention the platform again. Instead, consider when it would be most valuable to send out reminders about the platform.
- Would students benefit from information around report cards or progress report time?
- Do your students have big tests, including college prep tests, coming up that tutoring will help them prepare for?
- Can students benefit from tutoring reminders as end-of-year testing approaches?
- How can you encourage students to take advantage of on-demand tutoring during breaks and vacation times?
By preparing those communications ahead of time, you ensure that students, teachers, and families will get that information when it's most critical.
Continuously collect data to monitor usage
Data is key to understanding when students are accessing tutoring services and how they are using them. This data can provide insights into:
- Which schools or grades across your district are utilizing tutoring sessions the most
- Cross analysis into student achievement and number of sessions held
- Which subjects are receiving the higher amounts of tutoring sessions
- Whether there are underutilized tutoring areas, including vocational subjects or test prep
- Disparities in individual student usage and school usage
By collecting usage data related to your platform, you can often identify whether there are any underlying issues that might be preventing students from accessing tutoring support, including a lack of understanding over what the platform is or a lack of internet access. The Pear Deck Tutor platform provides usage analytics for districts and educators, including how many sessions a given student has attended and how many sessions schools have utilized.
Utilize data to continuously improve access to tutoring services
Districts should schedule meetings throughout the year to review data and evaluate where they need to improve. For example, you might find examples of strong usage and use them to clearly display what a classroom or school is doing well and how the rest of the district can use that information.
Educators might also have the chance to look over real results thanks to the use of platform analytics, which can help put them in a better position to provide more information or support to their own students. For example, the Pear Deck Tutor Writing Lab can provide information on a key skill that many students may be lacking, such as grammar support or paragraph structuring. Using this data, a teacher can position instruction to target this skill area and increase overall mastery.
To continuously improve, districts will need to create a structure that encourages feedback from students or educators on what resources they need, what challenges they may be facing, and how they have benefitted from on-demand tutoring. Pear Deck Tutor can work as a partner with districts to improve access to on-demand tutoring.
Moving forward with your new equity-based program
On-demand tutoring is an essential tool that can help improve equity in education and offer immense support to many students. But how you will implement it is a key consideration when choosing a personalized learning support and ensuring that it is meeting your equity needs. As we mentioned before, Pear Deck Tutor provides resources and assistance during the implementation process. When selecting an on-demand tutoring platform, consider how the platform will assist you during this process and what additional resources you may need. This is a great first step to bringing personalized learning into your classrooms.
Are you ready to get started? Reach out to the Pear Deck Tutor team for more information about how to bring on-demand tutoring to your district.