Why Online Tutors Are in Such High Demand in K-12 Districts
Students benefit substantially from tutoring, which is one reason on-demand tutoring is in high demand. Within the world of tutoring, the convenience of online tutoring makes it possible for students to connect with a highly qualified tutor at any time of day, from any location with access to the internet.
School districts want their students to achieve academically, so many of them seek online tutoring platforms that are available 24/7 as a way to help support student needs. As more and more districts realize the efficacy of having online tutoring available on demand, tutoring platforms, like TutorMe, continue to grow.
The Need for Online Tutors in K-12 Education
The pandemic caused significant disruptions in the education system. Some students could continue learning at home through remote work assigned by their teachers, but nationwide school shutdowns resulted in learning disruptions for many students, putting them behind historic benchmarks. Although schools are now back in session, educators are struggling with the different levels of learning that need to be provided in the classroom to get everyone back on track.
According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), students' scores in math and reading have both dropped since the pandemic. This can be discouraging, but is not unexpected given the extreme challenges schools, educators, and students experienced during the pandemic. However, it does set the tone for how proactive districts need to be to address these dropping test scores.
Many schools met the challenge by providing students with computers and iPads during the pandemic, becoming 1-1 technology districts. A 2021 survey by EdWeek Research Center found that only two-thirds of middle and high school students had access to a school-issued device before the pandemic. By 2021, over 90% of students had access to devices.
However, the device alone won't teach the children. They need real people to help them understand new concepts and master skills.
Unfortunately, staff shortages in K-12 schools are making that more and more difficult. The National Center for Education Statistics reported that more than half of our public schools were understaffed at the start of the 2022-2023 school year. Teachers in schools throughout the nation are struggling to find the time and resources to meet their students' needs. Giving students access to their own device is a big step toward ensuring each student receives individualized attention to help them succeed academically.
With standardized test scores down and fewer teachers in the school system, what can districts do to help their students?
To provide individualized learning support to assist students in their unique education experiences, districts are increasingly incorporating on-demand tutoring within their classrooms.
Efficacy in Practice
When searching for support structures to address academic needs, districts are turning to intervention strategies that are evidence-based in having an impact on student success. Growing research is linking tutoring to being one of the most effective interventions.
A study at Brown University concluded, "High-dosage tutoring — defined as more than three days per week or at a rate of at least 50 hours over 36 weeks — is one of the few school-based interventions with demonstrated large positive effects on both math and reading achievement." In an era where schools are under immense pressure to find actionable and proactive support for their students, this research is incredibly compelling. It gives schools direction to improve the academic success of their students, but it comes with implementation complications.
While excellent in theory, in-person, high-dosage tutoring is difficult to provide with limited staff and conflicting student schedules. To reach the amount of hours proven to be impactful, students would need to access tutoring multiple times a week. In-person tutoring is also extremely difficult and expensive to implement during the school day.
Historically, students would receive tutoring after school. This limits the time students can access support, removes the option of utilizing tutoring as an in-class support, and creates issues with equity.
Since in-person tutoring can be difficult to make accessible to all students, districts are turning to online tutoring as a viable avenue for high-dosage tutoring. Students can use their school-provided devices to log on to online tutoring platforms during their free time at school, after school, and at home. However, this many hours of tutoring will require a large workforce, making online tutors a valuable resource for districts around the country.
Key Qualities of an Effective K-12 Online Tutor
The need for virtual tutors is clearly there. This is a growing field that will only continue to grow as more districts opt for on-demand tutoring. When selecting a new job field, demand is important to consider, however, individuals considering a career as an online tutor should also consider if this job is a good fit for their skills and needs.
Though the exact qualifications of a successful online tutor will vary across different tutoring platforms, a candidate for a career in online tutoring should demonstrate the following characteristics:
- Content expertise. Online tutors have expertise in a field demonstrated through their higher education degrees. Your degrees may be more specific than the related subject in the K-12 realm. For example, if you have a degree in physics, you may also be an expert in elementary math, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and physical sciences. In addition to content knowledge, fluency in an additional language is also a great asset to have as an online tutor. With the percentage of English Language Learning students growing in public schools every year, having an additional language to provide academic support for these students increases your marketability.
- Passion for education. Tutors are not teachers, but they may be former educators, individuals interested in pursuing a career in education, skilled or interested in the science of learning, or polished communicators. Passion for your subject and helping students learn both play into tutoring success.
- Patience and empathy. Online tutors help many students in different situations. No two students are the same, yet each one is there to learn. Because each has a unique learning style and starts from a different place, you need a lot of patience and compassion. Empathizing with students helps you meet them where they are at academically. The last thing you want to do is intimidate or put too much pressure on a struggling learner.
Use the above criteria to help you decide if a career in online tutoring is something you might like to do.
Ready to Shape Successful Futures For Students?
More and more districts are turning to online tutoring platforms to meet the rising demand for personalized academic support. Online tutoring is proven to help students learn and achieve more, particularly in understaffed schools and for students who cannot access in-person tutoring.
As this trend toward online tutoring grows, platforms, like TutorMe, are expanding and recruiting more qualified tutors. This is a growing career opportunity for individuals who are subject matter experts and love to help students learn.
Does this sound like you? Apply to become an online tutor with TutorMe!