Saga Education to Develop TAPS System to Enhance K12 Tutoring With Support from the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Science Foundation

With this new grant, Saga Education will partner with CU Boulder to develop and test AI technology to support the work of tutors.

BOSTON, Nov. 30, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Saga Education, the national nonprofit behind one of the most studied personalized tutoring programs in the country, today announced a new collaboration with the National Science Foundation (NSF) in partnership with the University of Colorado Boulder on an integrative research project to develop AI technology to enhance tutoring practices and tutors’ professional growth and satisfaction through the tutoring analytics and performance support model (TAPS).

The collaborative research project will develop and study an innovative tutoring analytics system for operationalizing this theoretical model, along with a toolkit for embedding it within an on-the-job training paradigm. This integrative research will be conducted by an interdisciplinary team of researchers from CU Boulder and practitioner partners from Saga Education.

“The driving force behind this collaborative effort is to define the way in which AI can support the work of human tutors, rather than replace them, so that tutors can grow professionally and better meet the needs of today’s students,” said Professor Tamara Sumner. “Saga’s current tutoring and tutor training programs provide the ideal structure to develop and study the TAPS model.”

Saga has established partnerships with six large U.S. districts – including Providence, Chicago and New York City – serving low income and historically marginalized student populations. Saga’s tutoring program emphasizes personalized mathematics instruction, positive and supportive relationships with tutors, and a research-based mathematics curriculum. With this new funding, Saga and CU Boulder aim to enhance tutoring practices and the professional growth of tutors to enhance student success outcomes.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has enabled schools throughout the nation to find solutions to support students and teachers recover academically. Accelerated by the pandemic, there is a pressing need for new models of tutor training that support the continual improvement through a combination of ongoing professional development, peer learning communities, and on-the-job feedback. As tutors are poised to become central to the future of work in public schools across the country, Saga Education and CU Boulder will work to find the best practices to improve instructional quality with the latest developments in AI technology.

“Tutors play an important role in addressing the widening achievement and opportunity gaps in our public school system and the demand for effective high-impact tutoring has risen,” said Saga Co-founder, AJ Gutierrez. “We are excited for the opportunity to work with CU Boulder on this integrative research so that we can provide ongoing coaching and feedback to rookie educators which is central to implementing tutoring at scale.”

The funding to Saga Education and CU Boulder builds on the NSF investment of more than $29 million in research projects designed to increase opportunities for U.S. workers and generate positive societal and economic impacts at the local and national level. The projects are supported by the Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier program, one of NSF’s 10 Big Ideas initiatives launched in 2017 to foster bold research at the frontiers of science and engineering. For more information including a complete list of projects, click here.

Since 2013, the University of Chicago Education Lab has researched Saga Education’s intensive math tutoring model in Chicago Public Schools and in New York City, finding that it substantially improves academic outcomes for high school students. In two randomized controlled trials, students who received Saga tutoring learned as much as an extra two and a half years of math in one academic year – the equivalent to closing up to 50 percent of the black-white test score gap in one school year. The randomized controlled trials also found that Saga’s tutoring model reduced math course failure rates by 60 percent.

About Saga Education

Saga Education is an evidence-based, national leader in helping school districts implement high-quality tutoring models that accelerate educational equity. By leveraging the power of human capital and technology to improve student outcomes, Saga seeks to establish high-impact, in-school-day tutoring as an integrated part of a student’s education. Saga works alongside school districts nationwide, to  design and implement tutoring programs and technology solutions that enable students to thrive.

About the University of Colorado Boulder

At the foot of the Rocky Mountains, the University of Colorado Boulder is nationally recognized as one of only 35 AAU public research universities. Established in 1876, CU Boulder is a Tier 1 public research university with five Nobel laureates, nine MacArthur fellows and is the No. 1 public university recipient of NASA awards. CU Boulder is a leader in many fields, including aerospace engineering, earth and environmental science, physics and environmental law.