One District’s Blueprint for Data-Infused High-Impact Tutoring

Maximizing Achievement: Ector County ISD's Data-Infused High-Impact Tutoring Blueprint edLeader Panel recording screenshot

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In 2018, Ector County Independent School District (TX) faced severe challenges. It was the lowest-achieving large school district in Texas, with a D rating, due to a teacher shortage, but by implementing high-impact tutoring programs with partners, things have turned around.

During the edLeader Panel “Maximizing Achievement: Ector County ISD’s Data-Infused High-Impact Tutoring Blueprint,” Ector County ISD Associate Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Lilia Náñez and Executive Director of STEM, PE/Health, and Virtual Tutoring Lisa Wills talked about how they used high-impact tutoring to boost and track student success and growth.

Dr. Náñez explained the challenges Ector County ISD was facing in 2018. The district had over 350 vacancies, which meant students were packed into classrooms and the district was forced to bring in non-certified substitute teachers. Clearly, a change was needed.

In the fall of 2020, the district implemented outcomes-based contracting for tutoring partners. It used the NWEA MAP Growth assessment to measure benchmarks and achievements at the beginning and end of the year to determine bonuses for partners. The district also developed goals focusing on increasing the percentage of students at the “Meets Grade Level” score on the STAAR assessment.

Wills talked about how the district sought partners who shared their outcomes-based contracting philosophy and worked with them to start a successful pilot program at the most struggling middle school. The following year, the program was offered districtwide.

When the district chose high-impact tutoring partners, it made sure the partners knew what the strategic plan was so they could align themselves with it. Sessions are monitored to make sure student needs are met and the plan is followed. The district meets weekly with partners, students rate tutors, and the tutors provide feedback on students. Dr. Náñez added that the tutoring initiative is monitored by the Project Management Oversight Committee, to which Dr. Náñez and Wills report throughout the academic year.

With virtual tutoring, Wills talked about how campus leaders look over student MAP and STAAR data to find students with learning gaps who might be good candidates. The district needs to be selective with virtual tutoring, since it doesn’t work for all students.

Ector County ISD followed the Texas Education Agency’s key principles to set up the framework for effective tutoring. Students attended three to five sessions a week, with each session being 35 to 45 minutes long. Sessions were held during school days, since, if sessions were held before or after, attendance was lower.

In addition, an effort was made to keep students with the same tutors so they could build a relationship on trust. This had the bonus effect of giving SEL students a place where they could discuss their struggles. Furthermore, high-impact tutoring helped students who needed it most. Daniel Hebert, Vice President of  Product and Impact at FEV Tutor, added that students in need are less likely to use on-demand tutoring.

Wills explained the difference between high-impact tutoring and on-demand tutoring. In high-impact tutoring, tutors build relationships with their students that enable them to identify student needs and make students feel more comfortable expressing their needs. On-demand tutoring, meanwhile, is mostly homework help.

In 2022, Dr. Náñez said, the district’s rating was a B. She explained that the virtual tutoring was a big part of that. She added that students who attended and participated in sessions improved more than students who didn’t.

Dr. Náñez talked about how the district chose its tutoring partners. The district looked at partners already vetted by the Texas Education Agency to see who offered what it needed, such as tutoring during the school day. The district reviewed 15 partners and selected five, who then met with principals for 15 minutes each. Principals then chose two partners, one of them being FEV Tutor. This gave principals a voice in the program, which is how buy-in happened.

Hebert emphasized that this is a partnership between FEV Tutor and Ector County ISD. The partnership took a lot of work, but to help students grow, the effort was worth it.

Learn more about this edWeb broadcast, Maximizing Achievement: Ector County ISD’s Data-Infused High-Impact Tutoring Blueprint, sponsored by FEV Tutor.

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FEV Tutor

FEV Tutor is the leader in 1:1 high-impact tutoring for K-12 schools, districts, charter schools, and education organizations nationally. Since 2010, our targeted tutoring intervention has focused on driving usage with priority student cohorts in order to accelerate learning outcomes and growth for the hardest to reach, low-performing students. Grounded in research on effective tutoring principles and instruction, FEV Tutor is ESSA-approved and Digital Promise-certified. For more information on FEV Tutor, visit

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Article by Jon Scanlon, based on this edLeader Panel