November 10, 2014

$400K grant keeps Pottstown after-school program running

By Evan Brandt, The Mercury

Robin Romero, left, and fifth- and sixth-grade Principal Matthew Boyer help a student during the 21st Century after-school program at Pottstown Middle School. Photo Courtesy of Gail Cooper

An after-school and summer enrichment and tutoring program for Pottstown students will be continued and expanded as the result of a $400,000 grant award, Gov. Tom Corbett announced Monday. Funded through the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program, the state issued a total of $23.1 million to 64 school districts and community-based organizations in 29 counties across the state. In Montgomery County, the only other organization to receive a grant was the Norristown Area School District.

“This is very exciting,” said Pottstown Middle School Principal Gail Cooper, who heads up the building where much of the efforts have been focused for the past several years the program has been up and running. The grants come in three-year increments and this is the third time the district has been awarded a grant. This year, the application written by grants writer Sue Yocum calls for expanding the program into both the high school and elementary school levels.

Adding younger students

“Ever since we moved the fifth grade into the middle school, we have a lot of fifth and six graders arriving at school and hour early, because they come with their older brother or sister,” explained Matthew Boyer, principal of the fifth and sixth grade portions of the middle school.

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Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Funding,Government,K-8

August 26, 2014

Funds to expand GED tutoring

By Jessica Holdman, originally published in The Bismarck Tribune

Multiple federal investments are being made to improve business and careers on North Dakota’s reservations. Sitting Bull College in Fort Yates received $250,000 in federal funds to expand its GED tutoring and testing program to communities throughout the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. “Many of the community members do not have transportation,” said Mary Roussaau, AED/GED director at Sitting Bull College. “Going an hour to and from school gets to be a long day … Being in the communities is a brand new part of the program.”

Traditionally the GED tutoring was only held at Sitting Bull College’s three campus sites. Now those enrolled in the college’s GED program can receive tutoring at the community centers in places like Little Eagle and Porcupine, Roussaau said. She said the college also hopes to add services in places like Cannon Ball. The funding for the program expansion is part of a federal economic opportunity grant, Roussaau said. “These funds provide critical opportunities for many Native Americans to further their education in ways they once thought unlikely,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said in a statement.

While non-Native students graduate from high school at a rate of more than 75 percent, only around 50 percent of Native American students graduate, Heitkamp said. “We’re hoping it will make a difference in the economy on the reservation,” Roussaau said.

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Filed under: Government

August 10, 2014

Grant keeps AmeriCorps reading tutor in place at Pioneer Elementary

By Susan Parrish, originally published in The Columbian

Pioneer Elementary School in Evergreen Public Schools is the only school in Clark County to receive funds from a federal grant to provide an AmeriCorps reading tutor for the 2014-2015 school year, according to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“Some students don’t come in with skills that we’d expect them to have as kindergartners,” said Jenny Roberts, principal at Pioneer Elementary. “This tutoring helps bring the kids up to speed, from the beginning kindergartner who doesn’t know how to sit still and listen to a story to an early reader who isn’t up to grade-level reading.”

Roberts gave a phone interview from Arkansas, where she was attending a conference on literacy and early learning. Pioneer Elementary, a Title I school, has received an AmeriCorps tutor via the grant for several years, she said. The AmeriCorps literacy tutor works full time throughout the school year providing both small-group and one-on-one instruction, Roberts said.

The $1.86 million federal grant, coupled with funding from the state Legislature, will provide reading tutoring for 6,000 elementary students around the state by placing 150 Washington Reading Corps members into 53 school districts and community-based organizations.

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Filed under: Government,K-8

July 20, 2014

Free tutoring strains Nebraska school district budgets

By Joe Dejka and Erin Duffy, World-Herald staff writers, originally published 6/22/14

Alavion Allen, left, and Brooklyn Thomas are tutored by Benson West Elementary School kindergarten teacher Merry T. Johnson. High-poverty schools that miss proficiency targets must offer the tutoring. REBECCA S. GRATZ/THE WORLD-HERALD

When the dismissal bell rings at Benson West Elementary School, most kids scatter for home. But one recent spring day, more than 50 students stuck around for mandatory tutoring. Not mandatory for the kids, mind you. Mandatory for the school.

The federal No Child Left Behind law says that high-poverty schools must offer free tutoring when they repeatedly fail to hit annual proficiency targets. So, as first-grade teacher Megan Young led three students reading aloud the story of “Chicken Little,” she was helping Omaha Public Schools comply with the controversial 2002 law. The law has forced dozens of Nebraska schools to spend millions of their federal Title I dollars on tutoring. Annual cost: up to $1,500 per student.

Nebraska schools spent $2 million tutoring kids in 2012-13; $1.8 million of that was in OPS. Though the mandate is hitting OPS hardest — district officials expect that 33 schools will offer tutoring next school year — the impact is not limited to the big urban district.

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Filed under: Government,NCLB

May 8, 2014

Washington State Loses NCLB Waiver – Will SES Tutoring Return?

Originally published in The Tutor Report on 5/7/14

In an historic letter dated April 24, 2014 from The Secretary of Education to Randy Dorn, Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Washington, Arne Duncan advises that Washington’s flexibility from the requirements of NCLB will end with the 2013-2014 school year.

In the following excerpt from the letter Mr Duncan clearly states that Washington is again to set aside Title I funds for tutoring. This means that, among other actions that the State and LEAs will have to resume, LEAs in Washington must once again set aside 20 percent of their Title I funds for public school choice and supplemental educational services rather than having the flexibility to use those funds for other activities to improve student achievement in low-achieving schools. Should Washington obtain the requisite authority to resolve its condition, I would be pleased to reconsider Washington’s request to implement ESEA flexibility at any time.

For Washington to regain flexibility status their legislature, not due to reconvene until January 2015, would need to introduce using state tests to measure student growth instead or alongside local tests. To date this has not been possible. Washington now has an uphill struggle to reintroduce programs in time for the new school year that should include SES tutoring provider applications and authorizations. At this time their website cites the following:

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Filed under: Government,NCLB

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