our call to action

A person presenting to two individuals in front of a whiteboard.

the challenge

Research suggests that in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, students have learned just 87% of the reading and only 67% of the math that their grade-level peers learned during more typical years. And this shift is even more pronounced for schools operating in low-income communities. When comparing their current students to those previous years, 50% of educators in low-income schools reported gaps in learning of more than three months, compared to 46% of educators in non-low-income schools.*

 *Horace Mann Educator Survey

the solution

In April 2021, the U.S. Department of Education released guidance encouraging states to invest in solutions that address this learning loss. Saga Education’s high-dosage, high-impact tutoring programs are highlighted as a model proven to raise math scores, and foster the confidence and sense of belonging that underpin all academic success.

Students who receive Saga tutoring:

Triple their math

Attend school
more often

Raise their grades
in other subjects

expert testimony

On April 8th, 2021 Saga Education Co-founder, AJ Gutierrez, provided expert testimony to the Colorado House and Senate Education Committees. Colorado House Bill 21-1234 aims to help accelerate student learning—particularly for students from low-income families, students of color, and students in rural areas—after unprecedented disruptions to education from the COVID-19 pandemic, by giving students access to personalized instruction from trained tutors during the school day. 

This bi-partisan legislation was signed into law by Colorado Governor, Jared Polis. In addition, Colorado is investing additional dollars to expand tutoring in the state. 

our policy agenda

1. Call to National Service

Federal stimulus funding may be one aspect of rebuilding the nation. Through a resolution and public statements for a national call to service, we can empower everyday Americans to support one another to accelerate recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We encourage President Biden and Congress to issue a National Call to Service through Presidential Proclamation, Congressional Resolution, or other public means with a goal of spurring a large number of tutors and  future educators. 

The National Call to Service will highlight both the demand of tutoring and teaching and the opportunity to stimulate the supply of tutors.


Click the link for more details.

2. Higher Education Incentives

Student loan forgiveness for graduates who work as tutors.


Increased work-study funding for current post-secondary students to work as tutors.


High-dosage tutoring positions embedded within the school day should count as part of any in-service requirement for teacher candidates. 

3. U.S. Department of Education Guidance

The US Department of Education will likely continue to release guidance around use of ARP and other federal funds to address learning loss. While we are proud that research highlighting the success of Saga’s program was included in the April 2021, we would like to see additional guidance include: 


  • Guardrails that ensure evidence-based programs are implemented by requiring official documentation of research for funding; 
  • Definition of “high-dosage,” “embedded,” etc.;  
  • Prioritization of extending the school day to accommodate integration of high-impact tutoring; and,  
  • Prioritization of Algebra as one of the top 2 critical instructional areas (including early literacy).
  • State and federal education agencies highlight the following frameworks of high-impact tutoring that evidence shows work within their guidelines: 
  • Tutoring is provided ideally in groups of 2-3 students; rarely 1:1, and rarely 4+
  • The same tutor tutors the group of students throughout the school year
  • Tutoring is provided 3-5 times per week, or students receive at least 60-70 hours of personalized tutoring throughout the school year. 
  • Tutoring is implemented through the school day and is not not a before or after school program and is supplemental to core academic instruction and not a replacement for core classroom instruction.
  • Tutors receive information about pathways into teaching  or incentives that place tutors on a career path into education, including opportunities to earn credits for alternative teaching certification or student loan forgiveness for education programs. 
  • Curriculum that aligns with classroom instruction or state grade-level academic standards.
  • Tutoring is data-driven, with interim assessments to monitor student progress and inform instructional approaches for students
  • Thorough pre-service training.
  • Ongoing coaching for tutors, including frequent observation and feedback cycles embedded in their job.
  • Tutors can come from many pipelines, including recent grads, mid-career switchers and retirees.  So long as they receive solid pre-service training, and frequent in-service observation and coaching, they need not be trained educators.
  • State departments of education must count school/district delivery of high-impact tutoring as qualified instructional time under state time and learning standards (so long as it is embedded into the school day and aligns with the evidence-based framework above).
4. Americorps

The American Rescue Plan includes a significant increase in AmeriCorps funding “to respond to communities impacted by COVID-19 such as helping schools safely reopen and tackling the growing hunger crisis.” We have an opportunity to establish tutoring as a priority AmeriCorps program expenditure. 


Saga has a number of priority goals for AmeriCorps, which include:

  • Advance and accelerate the timeline for competing for, and granting awards for school-based grantees so they have runway to source talent and get prepared (currently apply in fall, hear late May; change to apply in fall, hear by March); 
  • Align AC Segal end of service year award to length of school year–a 1400 hour level (currently levels are 1700 hours or 1200 hours); and, 
  • Allow grantees to grow rapidly within their 3-year grant awards so scaling isn’t stalled (grantees currently capped for three years  at first year award level).
5. President’s Commission on Learning Recovery & Acceleration

Establishing such a commission will promote collaboration as opposed to competition, and could advance further policy priorities around measurement, transparency, outcomes, etc.

6. U.S. Department of Education Capacity

This position or team would provide technical assistance to states as they implement tutoring programs. It would also track data and outcomes, working as necessary with IES and other parts of ED.

7. State Collaboration

Facilitate opportunities for state leaders (e.g., Governors, State Departments of Education) to share best practices, implementation approaches, and any available economies of scale in the administration of tutoring programs at the state and local levels.

evidence to policy

A Pragmatic Playbook for Impact: Direct, Widespread, and Systemic

Saga Education was featured in a new pragmatic playbook for Impact to guide education entrepreneurs looking to scale their impact. Thank you Bellwether Partners and New Profit for developing such a comprehensive resource for nonprofit leaders to further equity and to respond to the urgency of this moment.

Federal and State Policy Recommendations

Saga Education’s policy recommendations to support evidence-based programs and high intensity tutoring are listed above.

Model State Legislation for High Intensity Tutoring

Nationally, there is a growing convergence around tutoring a tool to accelerate student learning; however, not all tutoring is created equal. This model legislation for state leaders outlines the hallmarks that evidence shows will lead to success and aligns with ARP guidelines.

U.S. Department of Education COVID-19 Guidance

Federal guidance on spending American Rescue Plan funds through Sept 2023 highlights Saga Education’s program standards and cites the research on our model in Chicago (pages 20-21).

New York State School Boards Association

The New York State School Boards Association released a three page research brief on addressing “learning loss,” endorsing high intensity tutoring, citing Saga Education’s evidence throughout.

Model Request for Proposal Language

States and school districts are creating requests for proposals for innovative tutoring solutions to improve student outcomes in response to COVID-19. Saga Education outlined the following priorities that can help solicit high quality, comprehensive responses to requests.

OESE Oversight Recommendations

The disruptive impact of COVID-19 in education will be long-lasting and districts and states will utilize tutoring as an ongoing strategy to support youth. To ensure long-term accountability there must be a federal agency, such as the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE), tasked with the oversight of such programs and permeating best practices...

Implementation Toolkit

Saga Education is providing a suite of resources, tools and support with designing and implementing effective in-school tutoring programs. Download our implementation toolkit for high intensity tutoring.

STEM Tutors to Teachers Bill

Teacher shortages have challenged school districts for decades, but the pandemic turned a problem into a crisis. A lack of qualified teachers not only significantly impacts students’ academic achievement, it also stalls progress toward their completing unfinished learning. High intensity tutoring models are opportunities to cultivate the next generation of highly qualified teachers.

AASA survey shows many districts will use ARP funds for high-intensity tutoring

A recent survey by the School Superintendents Association (AASA) on how districts plan to use American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds indicates that 44% of respondents plan to spend stimulus funding on high-intensity tutoring.

COVID-19 and learning loss- disparities grow and students need help

According to McKinsey & Company, the pandemic has set back learning for all students, especially for students of color. Evidence-based acceleration approaches can help. A proven catalyst for accelerated learning is one-on-one support for students. That requires bringing more talent into the system to provide “high dosage” tutoring and coaching. These programs were pioneered by...

interested in learning more?

If you need technical guidance / consulting support with program design and implementation of high impact tutoring,

please visit our Saga Consult page.