Supporting Research

Educational Inequity and High Dosage Tutoring

A body of research and practice informs the implementation of the Denver Math Fellow programs. The programs are an intensive, individualized academic intervention for students below grade level in math. The programs are based on a model developed by Match Education. Match Education runs three schools in Boston where each student receives an additional hour of math and an additional hour of literacy tutoring each day as part of their regular schedule. Tutoring is provided by recent college graduates, career changers and retirees committed to a year of service. After their year of service participants go on to lead their own classroom, pursue graduate studies or a career outside of education.

The fellow model, as developed at Match, was identified by the research of Harvard economist Roland Fryer as an effective strategy used by high performing schools to close achievement gaps. The five strategies identified by Fryer are:

1. An extended school day and year
2. The use of data to drive instruction
3. Devotion to high quality human capital
4. A culture of high expectations
5. Small group instruction

Fryer set out to partner with districts to develop the use of these strategies in high need schools and started with an experiment in Houston (Fryer 2013; Fryer 2011). The work in Houston began in 2010 and is currently  entering its 6th year. Houston started with a corps of 250 fellows and has expanded to over 300.

The math fellow program started in Denver in 2011 with a pilot in the Denver Summit Schools Network and the program was brought to scale in Denver Public Schools (DPS) with the founding of Denver Math Fellows in 2013.

The premise here is simple and is one strategy for combatting educational inequity: provide high quality tutoring as part of the regular school day for students who normally would not have access to the service and at the same time create a context for recent college grads, career changers and retirees to work with our students as part of a service year. Affluent families supplement the education of their children with private tutoring; we’re expanding access to this service for our students. After all, in the United States private tutoring is a $5 billion+ industry! The articles and research in this section will inform your understanding of Denver Math Fellows and the program’s development within a national context.

High Dosage Tutoring: Core Readings

“The 2 Sigma Problem” Benjamin Bloom. This article identifies tutoring as the most effective form of instruction and is written by the same individual known best for “Bloom’s Taxonomy”. (15 pages, 40 minutes)

“Where’s a Tutor When You Need One?” New York Times. “After two years of part-time tutors, administrators hatched a plan in 2003 to create a full-time tutoring corps, converting the school’s top floor into a dorm.” (2 pages, 10 minutes)

“Houston Schools Look to Charters for Guide” New York Times. “In the first experiment of its kind in the country, the Houston public schools are testing whether techniques proven successful in high-performing urban charters can also help raise achievement in regular public schools. Working with Roland G. Fryer, a researcher at Harvard who studies the racial achievement gap, Houston officials last year embraced five key tenets of such charters at nine district secondary schools; this fall, they are expanding the program to 11 elementary schools. A similar effort is beginning in Denver.” (2 pages, 10 minutes)

“Injecting Successful Charter School Strategies into Traditional Public Schools: Evidence from Houston” (2013) Roland Fryer. “All statistical approaches lead to the same qualitative conclusions. Injecting strategies and best practices from achievement-increasing charter schools into low performing traditional public schools can significantly increase student achievement. Students in treatment elementary schools gain almost 0.2 in math per year, relative to comparison samples. Taken at face value, this is enough to eliminate the racial achievement gap in Houston elementary schools in three years. Students in treatment secondary schools gain 0.140 per year in math, decreasing the gap by one-half over the length of the demonstration project.” (9 pages, 1 hour)

“Denver Tutoring Program Shows Gains, Heads to Referendum” (2013) Education Week. “This November, Denver taxpayers will be voting on whether to expand a math tutoring program district wide. But more than that, the vote will determine whether the school district’s efforts to innovate on a larger, faster scale is proven enough to be supported by taxpayers”

High Dosage Tutoring
A National View of Mid to Large Implementations




Program Start


Match Education




HISD – Apollo 20 Math Fellows




Match Education












Denver Math Fellows



Baltimore County

Baltimore County Public Schools



St. Louis