Taxes For Tutoring

On Election Day, residents of Denver CO voted to increase their taxes. For what?

The mill levy will dedicate $15 million to instructional support, including hiring tutors for students needing intensive intervention; $11 million for enrichment programs such as music, art and physical education; and $13 million for early-childhood education.

Ah! The Match Corps idea continues to spread. Recall: As part of an effort to turnaround 9 failing schools in Houston, our team at Match was recruited to design and launch a high dosage tutoring effort...200+ full-time math tutors that became known as Apollo Math Tutors. Results were hug, and economist Roland Fryer, who led the overall turnaround effort, wrote a paper about it.

Roland and his colleague Matt Spengler then brought the same idea to Denver. Last year their kids also had amazing achievement gains associated with the high-dosage math tutoring. So $10 million or so will be spent on scaling the program to more kids.

People ask us all the time: Isn't tutoring expensive? Not if you consider Return On Investment.

Most K-12 interventions don't even have a large enough effect to bother calculating ROI. But if you can put a big ol' effect size in the numerator (i.e., how much kids actually learn measured in test score growth, or the "return"), it can rationalize a fairly large number in the denominator ("investment").

A side benefit is that teachers love having all these tutors around. If you've ever tried to teach algebra to a group of 25 kids who don't know how to multiply, you can understand why math teachers appreciate having a cavalry to help...it becomes much more plausible to "Do your job" if you're not expected to concurrently remediate every single kid with massive deficits by yourself.

Our version of high-dosage math tutoring has now flourished in Boston, Houston, Denver.

We'll see what happens this year in Lawrence. And our friends at Blue Engine are building on some early success in NYC.

Congrats to Superintendent Tom Boasberg and the kids and math teachers in Denver...