• Michelle Mason, Ph.D.

Tactical Tutoring


Tactical Tutoring

I thought I would have my first blog describing how I developed Tactical Tutoring. I have had years of experience both working in schools and as a tutor. Through this work, I have found that one-on-one tutoring is the most effective way to help students improve in reading, writing, and math. I have always said that one hour of individualized tutoring is the equivalent of six or more classroom hours. I never had any data (except my own anecdotal data) to back this up until I read the article Alternative Service Delivery Models for Students with Learning Disabilities by Evelyn S. Johnson and Carrie Semmelroth from Boise State University.

Johnson and Semmelroth investigated how a targeted, individualized intervention improved the reading, writing, and math achievement of students with learning disabilities. In their study, they included students from ages 6 to 17 who received academic services at a center. According to the authors, the students received “direct, systematic, multi-sensory, instructional techniques to meet each student’s individual learning needs.”

How did they develop the individualized program for each student? They started with having a psychologist assess the student’s academic performance and cognitive profile. The results of the assessment allowed them to develop the targeted, individualized intervention. Once the intervention plan was developed, the students received one-hour one-to-one intervention services twice a week from learning specialist for 50 hours total.

What they found was that these interventions allowed 50-55% of the students to exit intervention services after 50 hours of intervention. Another 40% of the students exited the intervention services in 100 hours or less. Which means that many students were doing well after 6 months, and most were doing fine after a year.

I think that we can all agree that the sooner a child catches up with peers the better. Students who are succeeding in school can leave special education programs and be in the regular curriculum (remember, students are usually pulled out of their regular classes to receive interventions). Moreover, being successful in school makes it less likely that a student would drop out of school.

Beyond academic improvement, children and adolescents will have other gains. Many students would never have to feel like they were unsuccessful and stigmatized. Their self-confidence and self-esteem would increase. Students would enjoy school more. They would be more motivated to work at their school work. They would feel more optimistic about their futures.

While the focus of Johnson’s and Semmelroth’s paper was on students with learning disabilities, I believe that all students benefit from individualized instruction. I have found that students who do not have disabilities actually reach grade level in academics faster than students with disabilities when receiving one-on-one instruction.

All people have preferences in learning. Do you prefer to learn by reading or by listening? By knowing (through assessments) a person’s strengths and weaknesses in learning, an instructional plan can be tailored to the students learning style, which results in academic improvement. That is why, before starting tutoring with Mason Educational Mentoring, we give a free assessment. We need to have all of the data from the assessments before we can develop an individualized program for your child.

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