Tutor.com Reports High Demand for Algebra Tutoring
Numbers of Sessions and Early Intervention Alerts Track with Student Assessment Scores
Highlights from the report include:
- Two-fold increase in algebra sessions: Unprecedented demand for algebra tutoring correlates with historically low algebra assessment scores.
- Linear equations the most-requested subtopic: Within algebra, students most frequently connect for help with linear equations, followed by the algebra-based physics subtopic of motion, force, energy, and then polynomials.
- Demand highest weekday evenings: After-school evening hours are the most-requested times for algebra tutoring; Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. is the most popular time for students to initiate a session.
- Two-fold increases in length, frequency of sessions: The number of sessions that are unusually long or frequent has risen significantly in the past year.
- Major increase in alerts about students’ algebra knowledge: Tutors have issued a greater number of algebra early intervention alerts—to notify teachers and school leaders about their students’ lack of prerequisite knowledge or low content mastery—than ever before.
- High student awareness about interrupted learning: Students are aware of lost learning and often cite it as a concern with their tutors and in post-session comments.
With more than 200 subjects available for K–12 school and district programs, math topics account for roughly half of all tutoring sessions delivered. Over the course of the company’s 23 years and nearly 25 million tutoring sessions, math has long been Tutor.com’s most-requested subject. (English has been the next most-requested subject.)
“Even for this historically popular subject and subtopic, we are meeting demand for support that we have not experienced before,” said Sandi White, Senior Vice President for Institutional Partnerships. “Our aggregate 2022 session data aligns with what Tutor.com tutors and quality specialists see every day.”
Within math, algebra tutoring looms large. A gateway subject that prepares students to tackle advanced study in calculus, physics, and other areas, algebra presents significant challenges as well as major opportunities for students to attain academic and professional success.
Peaks in demand for the company’s algebra tutoring track with valleys in assessment scores. According to the NAEP Report Card, the average eighth-grade mathematics score was “lower than all previous assessment years going back to 2003.” Likewise, demand for Tutor.com’s algebra tutoring reached an all-time high in 2022. Last year, Tutor.com delivered nearly 100,000 algebra sessions, more than double the number from the previous year. While demand for algebra tutoring in K–12 programs rose steadily at a rate of just over 60 percent per year from 2019 to 2021, it accelerated significantly as the “return to normal” put in stark relief the impact of interrupted learning. (By contrast, in higher education and other institutional programs outside of K–12, demand for algebra tutoring sessions declined in 2022, a trend that underscores the specificity and significance of this topic area in schools and districts nationwide.)
The effects of interrupted learning are not lost on students. In their session comments, students’ most frequently used word was “help”—often compellingly paired with “please.” Not only are students pursuing help at higher rates than ever before, but they’re also engaging in longer and more frequent sessions than in previous years. In 2022, the number of long algebra sessions (defined as being 75 percent longer than average) more than doubled; the number of students who sought algebra help seven or more times in seven days also nearly doubled.
Madhu Trasi, a Tutor.com algebra tutor for the past ten years, noted the recent trend of students needing more—and more frequent—algebra help: “Students are very honest about their lack of background knowledge. They are genuinely motivated to learn, and this has made for more productive, satisfying sessions.” A student wrote in a post-session survey comment: “[My tutor] helped me regain my lost knowledge in algebra.”
Trasi is not alone among tutors in noting students’ struggles in algebra. Tutors issue early intervention alerts—real-time notifications for teachers and school leaders—whenever they work with a student who struggles with content mastery or lack of prerequisite knowledge. The aim of these alerts is to enable schools to address learning challenges precipitously and to provide just-in-time support for students. In 2022, tutors issued more than twice the number of content-mastery alerts than in the previous year, and nearly 63 percent more alerts for lack of prerequisite knowledge.
Algebra has a gateway subtopic of its own: linear equations. These are essential for describing relationships between variables and for predicting trends, and for advancing in studies from calculus and physics to engineering and finance. Still, students tend to get “stuck” on linear equations year after year, and particularly during the last couple of years. For success in some of the fastest-growing occupations (including nurse practitioners, data scientists, information security analysts, statisticians, and web developers), algebra understanding is critical.
After linear equations, the next most-requested topic areas are motion, force, energy (with about half as many sessions as for linear equations) and polynomials (with about two and a half times fewer sessions than for linear equations).
The white paper also details when students are most apt to ask for algebra help: weekday evenings. Specifically, Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. was the most popular time for algebra tutoring sessions in both 2022 and 2021. While after-school hours are overall most popular for algebra tutoring, about one-third of K–12 algebra sessions take place during school hours, and just under one in six sessions was initiated between 11:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. local time in 2022.
With assessment data indicating that students need more algebra support than ever before, students’ help-seeking behaviors also demonstrate that they are ready to take on new challenges, whether at 3:00 p.m. or 3:00 a.m.
To assist schools in delivering a multi-tiered system of support for all students, Tutor.com and its affiliate company, education services giant The Princeton Review®, are launching High-Dosage Tutoring, which will provide small group tutoring in algebra to accelerate student learning. Developed by education experts and based on the Brown University Annenberg Institute’s research-based design principles, High-Dosage Tutoring provides a way for students to make rapid, significant learning gains in algebra, and for teachers to track their progress through Tutor.com’s award-winning LEO™ platform. “Every student deserves the opportunity to succeed,” said White. “With the relational, frequent, curriculum-based High-Dosage Tutoring model, algebra students who had previously struggled will gain the support they need to overcome interrupted learning and pursue ambitious academic and postsecondary goals.”
Since its incorporation in 2000, Tutor.com has delivered more than 24 million one-to-one online tutoring and homework help sessions to students. The company’s more than 3,000 vetted and qualified tutors provide learning assistance that is available 24/7 in a wide variety of subjects. The company’s mission is to instill hope, advance equity, and catalyze achievement in schools and communities. Tutor.com powers tutoring and homework help programs for the U.S. Department of Defense, Coast Guard Mutual Assistance Program, colleges and universities, K–12 school districts, state and local libraries, and companies offering employee benefit programs. Headquartered in New York City, Tutor.com is an affiliate of The Princeton Review, an education services company not affiliated with Princeton University. Follow Tutor.com on Twitter @tutordotcom, Facebook @TutorDotCom, and LinkedIn @Tutor.com.
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SOURCE: Tutor.com: www.tutor.com
CONTACT: Jeanne Krier, Publicist for Tutor.com and The Princeton Review, firstname.lastname@example.org; or Suzanne Podhurst, PhD, VP, Institutional Marketing and Corporate Communications, Tutor.com and The Princeton Review, email@example.com