High-Dosage Tutoring and Reading Achievement: Evidence from New York City
This study examines the impact on student achievement of high-dosage reading tutoring for middle school students in New York City Public Schools, using a school-level randomized field experiment. Across three years, schools offered at least 130 hours of 4-on-1 tutoring based on a guided reading model, which consisted of 1-on-1 read alouds, independent reading, vocabulary review, and group discussion. We show that, at the mean, tutoring has a positive and significant effect on school attendance, a positive, but insignificant, effect on English Language Arts (ELA) state test scores and no effect on math state test scores. There is important heterogeneity by race. For black students, our treatment increased attendance by 2.0 percentage points (control mean 92.4 percent) and ELA scores by 0.09 standard deviations per year – two times larger than the effect of the Promise Academy Middle School in the Harlem Children’s Zone and KIPP Charter Middle Schools on reading achievement. For Hispanic students, the treatment effect is 0.8 percentage points on attendance (control mean 92.0 percent) and 0.01 standard deviations per year on ELA scores. We argue that the difference between the effectiveness of tutoring for black and Hispanic students is best explained by the average tutor characteristics at the schools they attend.