Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
  • This strategy can help address educational disparities. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve this outcome are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program basics

  • Peer tutoring program where students work in pairs on reading activities designed to improve reading accuracy, fluency, and comprehension
  • Students take turns as reader and listener and provide feedback
  • Activities are 35 minutes in length and are intended to be used three or four times a week

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Strong (second-highest tier)

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Strong (second-highest tier)

Ranked as having the second-highest level of evidence by the U.S. Department of Education What Works Clearinghouse


Target population

Elementary school-aged children

Program cost

Approximately $40 for program manuals; $1,500 for one day of professional development (2012)

Implementation locations

  • Not available

Dates active

Not available

Outcomes and impact

  • Potentially positive effects on alphabetics
  • Improved alphabetics outcomes by an average of 14 percentile points

Keys to successful implementation

  • Administer PALS in groups of two students. One student plays the role of coach and the other plays the role of player. The coach models high-quality verbal explanations and provides corrective feedback to the player. Over the course of the exercise, the two will switch roles.
  • Pair high performing students with low performing students
  • Provide students instruction so they will understand how to coach and ask questions in their paired groups
  • Use PALS procedures both to review previously covered topics and to teach brand new topics
  • Circulate throughout the classroom, ensuring students are following the PALS procedure
  • Encourage appropriate classroom behavior during breakout sessions using a research-tested behavioral management system

Similar programs

Resources