Update: There is a follow-up article about how this peer tutoring program has adapted to the online space during pandemic school closures.


Today's article features the peer tutoring program at Pioneer Valley High School, Santa Maria CA. Read on to learn more from Heidi Leal about this thriving program.

Program Lead

Heidi Leal, Peer Tutoring Coordinator: I match up tutors with their tutees and monitor tutee attendance as well as provide training for tutors.

Karen Apple, Peer Tutoring Supervisor directly supervises the tutors, monitors their attendance, verifies their time cards, inventories and supplies, creates and updates the tutoring schedule and assists in tutor training.

Reason for a Peer Tutoring Program

The purpose of our tutoring program is to provide one-on-one peer instruction in multiple subject areas, provide opportunities for professional development and employment skills for our tutors as well as peer mentoring for the tutees.

Determining Who Gets Tutored

Tutees are referred by school staff, parents or self referrals. Tutees attend and sign up on a voluntary basis and are first screened by their school counselor to evaluate students' commitment and desire to receive tutoring services. Counselors meet with students who are requesting tutoring service and have the tutee sign an agreement recognizing the attendance policy . Tutee attendance is monitored by the program coordinator. If a tutee misses three tutoring sessions, they receiving a warning that they are at risk of being dropped from the tutoring program. If the tutee misses four tutoring sessions in one semester, they are dropped from the tutoring program. There is constant communication from the tutors and the program coordinator; ongoing issues with attendance is addressed by the counselor.

Peer Tutor Recruitment

Tutors complete an application and must meet the following qualifications: a 3.0 GPA, junior or senior grade level, good attendance and no record of disciplinary action. Students must have a social security number and permission to legally work in the U.S. Qualified applicants are interviewed and selected based on their response to five interview questions. We avoid hiring tutors who participate in sports and / or AVID because we have found that these students' extracurricular activities conflict with their tutoring obligations.

Peer Tutor Training

Tutors attend a two-hour new tutor orientation prior to starting their first tutoring session. The first hour of the orientation covers the program policies, procedures, responsibilities and protocols. The second hour is actual tutor training using the Building Student Success: A Training Work Book for Tutors and Instructional Aides. We cover areas of becoming an effective tutor such as creating positive relationships, motivating students and qualities of successful tutors. Additional ongoing training using the workbook is provided in one hour sessions three times per semester. Tutors receive a total of 9 hours of formal training per year.

Tutoring Sessions: Routines & Procedures

Upon arrival to the learning center, the tutor greets the tutee and is directed to scan in within the QR code system. From there the session begins in the space designated specifically for tutoring. Students have access to and utilize textbooks and supplies to help enhance experience. Tutors are encouraged to use a variety of sources and ideas, and engage the tutee in the learning process. During this time there is much attention, focus and active conversation regarding academics. As the session ends, the tutor will direct the tutee to sign out with the QR code, to ensure the attendance is recorded.

Tutors are taught how to check for understanding as part of their training using the Building Student Success Work Book. With that said, when a tutee shares his progress or achievements, and the tutor feels the student has shown understanding of the content, the tutor will move on to the next lesson.

Peer Tutoring Program Evaluation & Outcomes

Prior to the conclusion of the semester, tutees and tutors are provided with a fifteen question survey. The questions range from the adequacy of the facility and atmosphere, the type of assistance staff members provide, if tutors are equipped to do the job, how a tutee’s grade(s) have changed, to how each group rates the program, overall. The last questionnaire assessed provided a response of 100% approval that all current tutees / participants would recommend the program to others.

This program has provided another source of support for both tutors and tutees. For tutors, this is a great platform for self-discovery and to learn leadership and teaching skills, while enhancing new levels of mentorship. For tutees, the program sets a different atmosphere for learning with peers and helps eliminate fear and diminish the intimidation of a classroom setting. It provides a safe environment and promotes a healthy mindset that leads to building and encouraging respectful relationships established and focused on academics.

Teacher Comment

“I think the biggest change I see with my student who attends peer tutoring is his ability to ask questions. His questions are focused and intelligent. Many students don't ask questions at all or say things like "I don't understand anything". Peer tutoring has enabled my student to ask questions for clarification and understanding. This skill will serve him through his mathematics career. Students need to learn how to persevere and study. Peer tutoring has definitely helped my student with that important piece of the student success puzzle.”
Sharon D.
PVHS Math Dept.

Peer Tutoring During School Closures

Tutors are hired as district employees and are paid for thier training sessions as well as tutoring. With the closure of school due to the COVID pandemic, we were able to continue tutoring services via video conferences. Tutee attendance is monitored with AERIES Supplemental Attendance through the QR code option. This system works extremely well, as reports can be pulled and faculty can view individual attendance of those students in their case load at any time. Of course, this system is set up for classes that are taught outside of the traditional school hours. For our district this includes before school (7:15 – 8:15 AM), after school (3:00 – 4:00 PM) and during the 7th period or last class (1:55 – 2:55 PM) of the day.


Learn more about how this peer tutoring program has been adapted to the online space in this follow-up article.

Resource Donations

The Peer Tutoring Resource Center wishes to thank Heidi Leal and the peer tutoring program staff at Pioneer Valley High School for their time in sharing the inner workings of their program and donating sample materials from the program. These documents are also listed in the resource library.

Peer Tutoring Program Proposal

PowerPoint presentation to the school board.

Tutee Survey Form

Used in collecting feedback about tutees’ experience of the peer tutoring program.

Peer Tutor Job Application

Application form for recruiting peer tutors.

Peer Tutor Interview Questions

Interview form contains a list of interview questions, section for recording candidate evaluation notes and information about hiring decision and next steps.

Peer Tutoring Referral Form

Form used by teachers to recommend a student who needs tutoring.

Tutee Information Form

Used by peer tutors to keep track of tutees. Contains tutoring schedules, tutee contact information, counselor, grade level and start date.


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