Improving achievement across a whole district with peer tutoring

Allen Thurston, Peter Tymms, Christine Merrell, and Nora Conlin consider lessons learned from a project designed to improve achievement across a whole district in the UK

GOVERNMENT ATTEMPTS TO RAISE achievement through policy initiatives are often disappointing. Evidence suggests that it is hard for large-scale, top-down reform to improve student achievement. For example, despite numerous reforms in English elementary schools stemming from the introduction of the Education Reform Act in 1988-2007, including national literacy and numeracy strategies, there has been virtually no improvement in reading standards and only a small improvement in math.

What we know
● Cross-age peer tutoring was effective at raising achievement in reading and mathematics.
● Same-age tutoring, while easier to organize, was not effective.
● It is possible to work with schools on a wide basis on a clustered randomized controlled trial.

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February 2012