High-Impact Online Tutoring Helps Ector County ISD Reach 'B' Rating

"The average FEV Tutor champion [students who received more than 20 hours of tutoring] increased their RIT scores by 14.42 points." Lisa Wills

In 2018, Ector County Independent School District received the news no school administrator wants to hear:

They were the largest, yet lowest-performing, school district in Texas. 

This prompted administrators to ask a crucial question: How could they effectively help students that were already behind reach grade-level mastery?

Fast forward to November 16, 2023, Ector County ISD, in collaboration with FEV Tutor, shared their remarkable transformation—from failing growth scores to earning a 'B' rating from the Texas Education Agency (TEA). The webinar provided insights into the district's use of high-impact, data-driven online tutoring to meet ambitious benchmark goals.

Dr. Lilia Náñez and Lisa Wills of Ector County ISD and Daniel Hebert from FEV Tutor explored how online tutoring for math and English transformed their student achievement outcomes:

Ector County ISD: Challenges and Initiatives

Ector County ISD has 33,500 students across 45 campuses in Odessa, Texas. In 2018, it received low student performance rankings.

District administrators knew they had to embrace innovative solutions to target student outcomes. However, they were also experiencing a severe teacher shortage and oversized classrooms. 

The administration turned to outcomes-based tutoring, where the success of online tutoring services are measured based on positive student outcomes.

The Strategic Approach: Embracing Data-Driven Solutions

The district used NWEA MAP scores to establish benchmarks and set specific goals in their contracts. 

Their primary objective was to ensure that every student reached the 'meets level' on their state assessments, signifying that all students perform at grade level. They also set an ambitious target to increase the overall achievement levels from 34% to 54% by August 2024.

Central to Ector County ISD's district strategic plan, these goals targeted measurable, relevant, and time-bound outcomes.

High-Impact Tutoring

Ector County ISD kicked off their high-impact tutoring journey with a pilot program at a struggling middle school. The pilot program involved 40 students, and the results showed significant growth. Due to the program’s success, the district moved to wider implementation the following year.

Recognizing the strain on teachers, Ector County ISD opted for individualized tutoring, complemented by regular data reviews, student feedback, and tutor reports.

A dedicated committee ensured the initiative remained on target, with frequent assessments to adjust strategies based on mid-year MAP data.

Multi-Year Initiative

Tutoring sessions, typically 3-5 per week, were embedded within the school day. This schedule ensured accessibility and addressed after-school challenges like extracurricular commitments and fatigue.

In addition to academic growth, the district witnessed another unexpected benefit of tutoring—students developed trust and relationships with tutors. And this, in turn, enhanced their social-emotional learning.

What were the results of high-impact online tutoring on student performance?

Over two years, Ector County ISD's online tutoring program:

  • Served 4,780 students across 30 school sites
  • Conducted 123,066 1:1 live tutoring sessions
  • Achieved a remarkable shift from a D to a B rating

The district also experienced math and reading growth. 

FEV Tutor champions (students engaging in more than 20 hours of tutoring) saw an average increase of 14.42 RIT points in math. The district saw a similar upward trajectory in ELA, with champions gaining an average of 10.55 RIT points in reading.

How Ector County ISD implemented and refined their online tutoring model

Dr. Lilia Náñez and Lisa Wills shared how their administrative team approached and implemented high-impact tutoring at scale:

  • Rigorous Vetting

Ector County ISD narrowed down an initial list of Texas Education Agency's approved tutoring vendors,to two primary partners, including FEV Tutor, based on the following criteria:

  • Scheduled, school-day embedment 
  • Session availability
  • Curriculum alignment

  • Stakeholder Engagement

Principals had a voice in selecting their preferred tutoring partners. Granting this autonomy met building-specific needs and ensured greater adoption of high-impact tutoring.

  • Continuous Learning and Adaptation

The district learned valuable lessons in its first year, adopting a staggered approach for smoother implementation in subsequent years.

The schools with the greatest needs were the first to receive high-impact tutoring. Then, over two weeks, administrators were able to assist with the rollout, dedicating their time and energy. They repeated this approach with the next set of schools.

Recognizing high-impact tutoring’s critical role in student success, Ector County ISD  is actively seeking grants to sustain this initiative.

National Perspective and Replicability

Ector County ISD's tutoring model, leveraging NWEA MAP scores, is comparable to other districts' diagnostic and benchmark assessments like STARR and iReady data. FEV Tutor's integration with these widely used benchmark tools presents a replicable blueprint for other districts.

FEV Tutor's high-impact tutoring approach has seen success across 40 states, reaching nearly 100,000 students.

Q&A Highlights

Q: How was time allocated for tutoring during an already busy school day?

A: Tutoring integrated into the Language Arts (LA) block using a station rotation model. Stations allowed for scheduling 30-minute tutoring sessions three times a week within a 60-minute block. While some students received tutoring, others participated in group activities. 

In middle school, a double block for Reading-Language Arts and Math was used, with the second block dedicated to tutoring, offering more personalized learning.

Q: Are teachers provided professional development or coaching to facilitate High Impact Tutoring?

A: Yes, a coordinator is assigned to work with teachers, guiding them on when and how to utilize high-impact tutoring. 

Teachers are not responsible for conducting the tutoring, but they monitor and ensure student attendance. 

There is a strong partnership between the coordinator and the FEV Tutor's Academic Success Coach, a former teacher, to ensure alignment with the school day and ease the burden on schools. This partnership combines training and coordination, and it's proven effective and replicable at a national level.

Q: How does the effectiveness and scale of tutoring compare to when Ector County managed tutoring in-house?

A: Before adopting online high-impact tutoring, Ector County ISD conducted tutoring in-house and was rated a D. The district faced a heavy load on teachers due to significant teacher vacancies. 

With the introduction of high-impact tutoring, the burden on teachers lessened, allowing them to focus more on core instruction. This shift in approach has been instrumental in improving the district's rating to a B, making high-impact tutoring an indispensable component for the district moving forward.

Recreate Ector County ISD's Success With High-Impact Online Tutoring

Ector County ISD's collaboration with FEV Tutor highlights the potential of data-infused, high-impact tutoring in transforming student outcomes. Their approach, combining strategic planning, rigorous implementation, and continuous evaluation, offers a replicable model for other districts seeking similar transformation.

To watch the entire webinar for more insights, click here.

Partner with FEV Tutor for a solution grounded in ESSA-evidence-based intervention and proven success in district collaborations nationwide. Schedule a demo now to get started.