The Effects of Virtual Tutoring on Young Readers: Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial

Susanna Loeb, Sarah Novicoff, Cynthia Pollard, Carly Robinson, Sara White

This study is the first randomized controlled trial of a virtual early literacy tutoring program. OnYourMark Education provides tutoring grounded in the science of reading and focused on foundational literacy skills (e.g., phonics, phonological awareness, reading fluency). During the 2022-23 school year, OnYourMark partnered with 12 schools in a large charter-management organization in the southern United States to provide virtual tutoring in school to kindergarten, first, and second grade students. The program included four sessions per week for 20 minutes per session from September through May. We randomly assigned students to one-on-one tutoring (N=510), two-on-one tutoring (N=570), or a business-as-usual control group (N=1,005). We find that students assigned to OnYourMark tutoring scored approximately 0.08 SD higher on end-of-year early literacy tests than students in the business-as-usual control group, with lower-performing students (0.18 SD) and first graders (0.19 SD) assigned to 1:1 tutoring benefiting most. These positive findings from a virtual program with young readers provides initial evidence that virtual tutoring could be a promising option, especially in contexts with barriers to implementing in-person early literacy tutoring.

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