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Washington State Institute for Public Policy
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Tutoring: By peers

Pre-K to 12 Education
Benefit-cost methods last updated December 2019.  Literature review updated July 2014.
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Generally, peer tutoring is an instructional strategy that uses students to provide academic assistance to struggling peers. Peer tutoring may use students from the same classrooms or pair older students with younger struggling students. Tutoring assistance can occur through one-on-one interactions or in small groups and in some instances students alternate between the role of tutor and tutee. The specific types of peer tutoring that have been evaluated and are included in this meta-analysis are (in no particular order) ClassWide Peer Tutoring, Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies, and Reciprocal Peer Tutoring. The evaluated tutoring programs in this analysis provide, on average, about 30 hours of peer tutoring time each year and about six hours of training time for teachers and students to learn program procedures.
The estimates shown are present value, life cycle benefits and costs. All dollars are expressed in the base year chosen for this analysis (2018). The chance the benefits exceed the costs are derived from a Monte Carlo risk analysis. The details on this, as well as the economic discount rates and other relevant parameters are described in our Technical Documentation.
Benefit-Cost Summary Statistics Per Participant
Benefits to:
Taxpayers $3,699 Benefits minus costs $16,795
Participants $8,690 Benefit to cost ratio $142.80
Others $4,584 Chance the program will produce
Indirect ($59) benefits greater than the costs 83 %
Total benefits $16,914
Net program cost ($118)
Benefits minus cost $16,795
1In addition to the outcomes measured in the meta-analysis table, WSIPP measures benefits and costs estimated from other outcomes associated with those reported in the evaluation literature. For example, empirical research demonstrates that high school graduation leads to reduced crime. These associated measures provide a more complete picture of the detailed costs and benefits of the program.

2“Others” includes benefits to people other than taxpayers and participants. Depending on the program, it could include reductions in crime victimization, the economic benefits from a more educated workforce, and the benefits from employer-paid health insurance.

3“Indirect benefits” includes estimates of the net changes in the value of a statistical life and net changes in the deadweight costs of taxation.
Detailed Monetary Benefit Estimates Per Participant
Benefits from changes to:1 Benefits to:
Taxpayers Participants Others2 Indirect3 Total
Labor market earnings associated with test scores $3,699 $8,690 $4,584 $0 $16,973
Adjustment for deadweight cost of program $0 $0 $0 ($59) ($59)
Totals $3,699 $8,690 $4,584 ($59) $16,914
Detailed Annual Cost Estimates Per Participant
Annual cost Year dollars Summary
Program costs $111 2013 Present value of net program costs (in 2018 dollars) ($118)
Comparison costs $0 2013 Cost range (+ or -) 10 %
In the evaluations included in this meta-analysis, the average peer tutoring program provides 30 hours tutoring time and six hours of training time per class. To calculate a per-student annual cost, we used average Washington State compensation costs (including benefits) for a K–8 teacher as reported by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, divided by the number of students per classroom in Washington's prototypical schools formula.
The figures shown are estimates of the costs to implement programs in Washington. The comparison group costs reflect either no treatment or treatment as usual, depending on how effect sizes were calculated in the meta-analysis. The cost range reported above reflects potential variation or uncertainty in the cost estimate; more detail can be found in our Technical Documentation.
Estimated Cumulative Net Benefits Over Time (Non-Discounted Dollars)
The graph above illustrates the estimated cumulative net benefits per-participant for the first fifty years beyond the initial investment in the program. We present these cash flows in non-discounted dollars to simplify the “break-even” point from a budgeting perspective. If the dollars are negative (bars below $0 line), the cumulative benefits do not outweigh the cost of the program up to that point in time. The program breaks even when the dollars reach $0. At this point, the total benefits to participants, taxpayers, and others, are equal to the cost of the program. If the dollars are above $0, the benefits of the program exceed the initial investment.

Meta-analysis is a statistical method to combine the results from separate studies on a program, policy, or topic in order to estimate its effect on an outcome. WSIPP systematically evaluates all credible evaluations we can locate on each topic. The outcomes measured are the types of program impacts that were measured in the research literature (for example, crime or educational attainment). Treatment N represents the total number of individuals or units in the treatment group across the included studies.

An effect size (ES) is a standard metric that summarizes the degree to which a program or policy affects a measured outcome. If the effect size is positive, the outcome increases. If the effect size is negative, the outcome decreases.

Adjusted effect sizes are used to calculate the benefits from our benefit cost model. WSIPP may adjust effect sizes based on methodological characteristics of the study. For example, we may adjust effect sizes when a study has a weak research design or when the program developer is involved in the research. The magnitude of these adjustments varies depending on the topic area.

WSIPP may also adjust the second ES measurement. Research shows the magnitude of some effect sizes decrease over time. For those effect sizes, we estimate outcome-based adjustments which we apply between the first time ES is estimated and the second time ES is estimated. We also report the unadjusted effect size to show the effect sizes before any adjustments have been made. More details about these adjustments can be found in our Technical Documentation.

Meta-Analysis of Program Effects
Outcomes measured Treatment age No. of effect sizes Treatment N Adjusted effect sizes(ES) and standard errors(SE) used in the benefit - cost analysis Unadjusted effect size (random effects model)
First time ES is estimated Second time ES is estimated
ES SE Age ES SE Age ES p-value
Test scores 9 8 400 0.159 0.090 9 0.095 0.099 17 0.334 0.002

Citations Used in the Meta-Analysis

Dion, E., Roux, C., Landry, D., Fuchs, D., Wehby, J., & Dupere, V. (2011). Improving attention and preventing reading difficulties among low-income first-graders: A randomized study. Prevention Science, 12(1), 70-79.

Fuchs, D., Fuchs, L. S., Mathes, P. G., & Simmons, D. C. (1997). Peer-assisted learning strategies: Making classrooms more responsive to diversity. American Educational Research Journal, 34(1), 174-206.

Fuchs, L., Fuchs, D., & Kazdan, S. (1999). Effects of peer-assisted learning strategies on high school students with serious reading problems. Remedial and Special Education, 20(5), 309-318.

Fuchs, L.S., Fuchs, D., Kazdan, S., & Allen, S. (1999). Effects of peer-assisted learning strategies in reading with and without training in elaborated help giving. The Elementary School Journal, 99(3), 201-219.

Greenwood, C.R., & Terry, B. (1993). Achievement, placement, and services: Middle school benefits of classwide peer tutoring used at the elementary school. School Psychology Review, 22(3), 497-516.

Lamport, K.C. (1983). The effects of inverse tutoring on reading disabled students in a public school setting. Dissertation Abstracts International, 44(03), 729A.

Mathes, P.G., & Fuchs, L.S. (1993). Peer-mediated reading instruction in special education resource rooms. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 8(4), 233-243.

Trovato, J., & Bucher, B. (1980). Peer tutoring with or without home-based reinforcement, for reading remediation. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 13(1), 129-41.