Caregiver Toolkit

CityTutor DC connects schools, community-based organizations, and other committed stakeholders to expand access to high-impact tutoring (HIT) and accelerate learning for DC students through tutoring. CityTutor DC believes that parents and caregivers are important partners as we work to expand access to HIT.

Tutor points out a word on a worksheet while the student looks on.

What is high-impact tutoring?

High-impact tutoring (HIT) is an evidence-based approach to accelerate learning. HIT takes place in a one-on-one or small group setting where trained tutors and students meet frequently and consistently, usually with a focus on math or literacy.

High-impact tutoring is one of the most studied academic interventions and there is evidence that it accelerates student learning and can increase social-emotional well-being. Students lost valuable learning time and socialization opportunities during the pandemic. By design, HIT focuses on individual or small-group academic support led by a tutor who is invested in your student’s success. All HIT programming should be aligned with evidence-based standards found here.

Why is HIT important now?

DC students’ math and reading test scores have fallen significantly over the past five years. Before the pandemic, 37% of students read at or above grade level. School year 2021-2022 assessments revealed that only 31% scored proficient or above. Math scores also dropped significantly across all grades. HIT’s evidence-based standards, which focus on tutor training, relationship-building, and tutoring for at least 90 minutes per week, address the pandemic’s impact. Learn more about HIT here.

Is HIT accessible to all DC students?

Yes, HIT is accessible to all DC students; however, each school or site selects students for tutoring using its own model, which may be based on student test scores, attendance, or class schedule.

HIT programs are expanding rapidly! HIT may be offered at schools, at after-school programs, or through virtual platforms. Though HIT may take a variety of forms, HIT standards help ensure tutoring across sites remains as aligned as possible. Learn more about where we know HIT is happening here.

What services are available for my student?

To learn about tutoring that may be available for your student, you should consult with their school. Click “More Info” below for specific questions to ask your school.

As a caregiver, the best thing you can do is to ask the school for information about its plans to provide high-impact tutoring to students. Specific questions to ask might be:

  • Is there an opportunity for my student to receive HIT during or after school?
  • What is the process for selecting students for the program?
  • Where will tutoring fit in my student’s schedule
  • How are tutors vetted/hired?
  • How are tutors trained?
  • How do you setup tutoring during the school day?

Click here to see if your student’s school is currently offering tutoring.

Additional FAQs

  • DC Public Library (DCPL) has partnered with Brainfuse HelpNow, a free, on-demand tutoring resource designed for K-12 students. All you need is a library card! Live chat-based tutoring is available in English and Spanish from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m., providing homework help for core subjects, including mathematics, science, and English Language Arts. Students may even submit essays to HelpNow’s Writing Lab to receive guidance and feedback. The resource also offers free practice lessons and tests for students to practice skills in different subjects. To learn more about this free tutoring resource, visit DCPL.
  • DC is offering students scholarships between $1,000-$10,000 for Out-of-School-Time (OST) Programs. The funding can be used to pay for tutoring services and programs designed specifically for students with disabilities, advanced learners, and English Language Learners. For more information, including an application link, visit The Community Foundation.
  • Need help finding a tutor or mentor for your individual student? One of our partners, DC Tutoring and Mentoring Initiative, works with 50+ nonprofit organizations around DC and surrounding suburbs that provide tutoring, mentoring, and after-school programs. Please complete this form and they will get back to you within one business day. If you prefer, you can email them at or call/text 202-688-1261.
    ***Some of DCTMI’s partners are virtual, some in-person, and some a mix of the two. If you have a preference, please let them know in the Notes section of the form.

Just as general education students can receive tutoring as a supplement to their core instruction, students with IEPs can receive it in addition to their core and specialized instruction. Tutoring doesn’t replace IEP services, but can be an additional service. This decision and implementation should be done in coordination with your student’s school and IEP team.

For starters, DC does not yet have enough high-impact tutoring opportunities to meet the needs of the District, particularly in math. The funding we’re providing helps build capacity of our tutoring providers to partner with schools in a way that is aligned to the research on effective and impactful tutoring. CityTutor DC will also be recruiting national providers to collaboratively partner with in expanding access to high-impact tutoring. Tutoring is most effective when it’s integrated in schools, but in some cases offering tutoring means schools must make adjustments to their schedules and operations. We support school leaders in this redesign and change management process and have some resources available to consider in our toolkit.

CityTutor DC is also partnering with community-based organizations to offer tutoring, as we know some students will gain the most from tutoring outside of school. We are also building networks and communities of practice so that schools, tutoring organizations, and community-based organizations can learn from one another.

Great tutors can come from a wide variety of backgrounds and spaces! All tutors undergo comprehensive background checks and receive ongoing training in relationship-building and instruction.

Many tutors are undergraduate and graduate students who are at local colleges or universities who want to be teachers. These programs allow students to receive mentoring and training from their professors.

Other tutors may be teachers, former educators, or volunteers from within the communities they serve. In some schools, teachers and paraeducators on the staff provide tutoring and small-group instruction during the school day.

Though training protocols may slightly vary between tutoring organizations, all tutoring organizations we partner with ensure to include training prior to beginning as a tutor, regardless of tutor background or experience level.

Tutoring organizations provide pre-service training for tutors that can include math or ELA skills, social emotional learning, and trauma-informed teaching. Student well-being is also discussed during bullying prevention training. CTDC offers free, monthly tutor training which provides a broad overview of DC’s educational landscape, key strategies to engage students, and tips on building strong relationships.

While all tutoring sessions look a little different—whether they’re in person or online, during the school day or after school, the basics stay the same. Students work in a small group of four or fewer students with a trained tutor multiple times a week for a total of 90+ minutes per week for 10+ weeks. You can expect each meeting to include:

  • Relationship Building: Tutors are trained in how to build positive relationships with students (i.e. connecting students’ interests to tutoring lessons, asking about their day/weekends, checking in on their emotions, etc.). Strong relationships with adults at school can increase student engagement with their academics, peers, and within their school community. The small group size also helps students build their social skills so they can have positive relationships with their peers.
  • Academic Support: Students generally do not complete homework during a tutoring session. Tutors will work from lesson plans to build on and/or improve students’ understanding of and proficiency in concepts being taught in class or prepare them for upcoming lessons.
    • Example: 1st graders in literacy tutoring may practice sight word recognition, writing simple sentences using sight words, and explaining the main idea from a story they read with their tutor.
  • Data Gathering: After each tutoring session, the tutor records information about the work done that day, such as how well the student appeared to understand the concepts taught, how far they progressed through the lesson, and any areas for improvement to pay attention to in future sessions. This session-level data is important for growth and consistent attendance is crucial to effective HIT. Data helps the school or tutoring team identify if and where additional support is required. Throughout the HIT program, students also take assessments to measure their academic growth.

For more information about CityTutor DC and the work we do, check out our general FAQs or our video

Follow us on social media @citytutordc

*CityTutor DC (CTDC) is a coalition of over 50 members connecting schools, community-based organizations, civic partners, and other committed stakeholders to accelerate learning for Washington, DC students through high-impact tutoring according to research based standards. CTDC has partnered with OSSE to support our State Education Agency in achieving their goal: a majority of at-risk students across DC are on track to recover from interrupted instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic via access to high-impact tutoring programs at their schools.

What is HIT?
Why is HIT important now?
Is HIT accessible to all DC students?
What services are available?