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High-Dosage Tutoring: What Is It, and How Does It Help?

As students continue working to recover from pandemic-related learning loss, this academic support method stands out as a top contender.

By Morgan Wood1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSOREDUpdated 4:16PM 03/14/23

Sylvan Learning, the leading supplemental and enrichment education brand for K–12 students, has long leveraged the power of high-dosage tutoring and personalized academic support. Now, as students nationwide work to recover from incredible amounts of learning loss, the learning method is becoming more and more important.

So, What Is High-Dosage Tutoring?

High-dosage or high-impact tutoring is generally defined as a form of tutoring that:

  • Takes place at least three times per week, with each session lasting 30 minutes or more
  • Has a maximum student-to-teacher ratio of 3:1
  • Includes a “sustained and strong” relationship between the student and tutor
  • Monitors the student’s knowledge and skills
  • Incorporates coaching or oversight of tutors for high-quality interactions

High-dosage tutoring is not homework help. Rather, it places a keen emphasis on building skills and encouraging valuable learning.

“As our students work to catch up, the support they receive really needs to be focused on helping them recover any learning that may have been lost during the pandemic,” explained Emily Mitchell, vice president of education at Sylvan. “A lot of schools have invested millions in homework help, and the students receive a link to click. It’s up to the child to take initiative, and the resources largely go unused. Over 80% of students log on either not at all or for less than half an hour over the course of a school year.”

A crucial differentiator between homework help and high-dosage tutoring is the relationship the student builds with their support staff. With many homework help models, tutor assignments are randomized, and students are simply connected with whoever is available at the time. This is intimidating for the child, as it asks them to meet a stranger every time they need support, and removes the potential for relationship-building and growth tracking.

“Students will work so much harder when they feel like they have a grown-up in their corner,” Mitchell added. “When it’s just a computer program, they get no human feedback. Alternately, when they’re working with someone who asks how their day was or how last weekend’s soccer game went, that connection pays off in an academic way, because the child knows they’re working with someone who believes in them.”

What Does Sylvan Do?

The Sylvan Learning model allows center-level staff to be intentional about connecting with students and providing support beyond single-instance homework help.

With over 40 years of experience and a history of proven results, Sylvan’s low student-to-teacher ratio, pre and post-testing, personalized support and expert lesson planning have positioned it as a leader in the education industry.

Whether Sylvan is working with individual parents or school systems, it provides consistent communication, proper staffing and adequate student benchmarking to ensure that each student receives the personalized support they require.

As parents find support for their students individually and school systems work to spend federal funds, Sylvan is providing support through both retail locations and institutional partnerships.

A Guide for Parents

Though the distinction between different types of tutoring is crucial, many parents have not had a reason or the resources to understand how instructional models differ.

“Sylvan held focus groups a few years ago, and we spoke with parents who had chosen different methods of tutoring — some of which were homework help,” Mitchell said. “We discovered that there were parents who really did not understand what they had bought. They had no reason to think that there was a difference among tutoring companies.”

Now that proper support is more crucial than ever, Mitchell suggests that parents ask the following questions when evaluating a supplemental learning program:

  • Is this homework help or a skill instruction model?
  • How many other children will be sharing the teacher’s attention? What is the student-to-teacher ratio?
  • How often will my child attend tutoring sessions? How long will each session last?
  • What kind of progress reporting will we receive?
  • How can the plan be adjusted if my student is not showing progress?

Whether a parent is seeking support independently or evaluating the programs offered by their child’s school, a strong understanding of the model and how time is spent empowers them to make an informed decision.

Once parents have found a program that they feel is promising, they should remember that their child did not fall behind overnight. As such, results will not happen overnight, either. Waiting approximately six weeks to check for progress is a reasonable timeline, but Mitchell says she would recommend that, if a student is not seeing any growth after nine weeks, an alternative solution should be considered.

It is never a bad time to find supplemental learning support, but as we approach summertime, students have an even better chance to recover. 

“If not now, parents should definitely consider some additional instruction this summer,” Mitchell said. “That’s when class stops moving forward, so you’re not chasing a moving target anymore. All of the ground made up in the summer is pure progress, and it will give the child much better footing for when school starts back in the fall.”

Sylvan Learning start-up costs range from $85,525–$186,930. Learn more at


*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.