August 28, 2010

At-risk students to get extra help

By Paris Achen, Mail Tribune, originally published on 6/28/10

Instructional coaches in Medford district will split time with pupils, keep staff-development duties

The Medford School District’s cadre of instructional coaches will spend half of their time next year tutoring at-risk students, district officials said.

The creation of instructional coach positions two years ago angered some parents and teachers because the coaches were moved from jobs working directly with students to positions that concentrated solely on staff development and student-data analysis.

Opponents felt the instructional coaches, all seasoned experts in best instructional practices, should be kept in the classroom where they could directly benefit kids and reduce class sizes.

Next fall, instructional coaches still won’t serve as classroom teachers. However, they will spend about half of their time providing small-group instruction for students who are struggling in academics. The rest of their time will continue to be spent on staff development, introducing new curriculum, modeling new instructional practices and coordinating academic assessments. Their title will change to “teachers on special assignment,” or TOSA.

Todd Bloomquist, human resources director, said the change reflects the need for more student interventions in a school environment where class sizes can balloon to about 40 students at times. The primary goal of the shift is to help certain students who are struggling in classes but do not qualify for special education.

“We have a group of students who are not in special education, and they are not being successful,” said Medford schools Superintendent Phil Long. “They need intervention to be successful, and that’s what this calibration does.”

Officials hope instructional coaches also will have time to work with academically advanced pupils who may need customized activities in order to feel challenged.

To read more click here.

Filed under: Tutoring Practices

August 20, 2010

Trio forms group to help teens overcome testing fears

by Matt Wilson,, originally published 6/24/10

No three letters in the alphabet strike greater fear, dread and anxiety in local high school students than S, A and T.

The SAT Reasoning Test is seen as a monster by many college hopefuls, but three recent Monta Vista High School graduates are devoting a chunk of their summer to helping local students slay the beast.

Sofia Liou, Annie Wu and Tarun Galagali, all 2009 graduates who have returned home for the summer after their first year of college, are co-managing their own SAT tutoring branch.

The young SAT masters will share their tips and tricks in the classroom as they take on the role of teachers.

“Our obligation is to help high school students our age beat this exam,” says Galagali, who just finished his first year at Dartmouth College.

The highest score is 2,400, which is the combined score of three 800-point sections covering math, critical reading and writing. The test can take nearly four hours to slog through, and the students-turned-teachers plan to teach the SAT a different way.

“We’re looking at this from a game theory perspective. The exam has a structure, and it’s not like a typical test,” says Galagali, who earned a 2,290 score on the SAT and a perfect 800 in the critical reading section. “It tests the same thing, the same way every time. It’s beatable. You do not have to be the smartest person to beat this, but those that know the test the most will do the best.”

The trio is part of an organization called IvyInsiders, which supplies their teaching material. The group claims that on average students can expect a 263-point improvement in their SAT scores. The three are putting themselves in direct competition with big-name SAT prep companies.

They create low pressure approach to tacking the test. “If they look at it as a test of intelligence, they will get stressed out. The SAT is not a comprehensive knowledge test and looking at it as a game alleviates a lot of student pressure,” Galagali says.

To read more click here.

Filed under: Small Private Practices,Test Prep

August 10, 2010

Students volunteer for summer tutoring

by Patty Miller, The Edmond Sun, originally published 6/24/2010

EDMOND — A free program designed to help area students succeed in school and develop confidence is being spearheaded by two Edmond seniors.

Megan Prasad and Reubin Turner, both Memorial High School students, are part of the Oklahoma Youth Summer Enrichment Program. Their goal is to help other students by teaching in a way different from what they might experience in a regular classroom situation.

“Students learn differently and sometimes a concept is easier to understand when someone closer to their age explains things to them,” Prasad said.

Memorial counselor Carol Doherty supports what Prasad says.

“Many students struggle in school but do not feel comfortable or do not relate to adult tutors,” Doherty said. “This program will be an answer for many parents who are frustrated and need additional help to motivate their children and enhance their education.”

“As the next generation, you have to contribute,” Turner said. He just returned from tutoring seventh-graders with his grandmother, Versie Parish, a retired school teacher, in Hugo.

To read more click here.

Filed under: Peer-Tutoring

August 3, 2010

Reading Partners to Launch in DC with NewSchools Investment

Originally published in on 6/18/10

Innovative California Literacy Nonprofit to Serve Four DC Elementary Schools; More Planned

Reading Partners, an Oakland, Calif., based non-profit dedicated to empowering disadvantaged children through literacy, announced that it will expand to Washington, DC. NewSchools Venture Fund, a leading national education funder, will be anchoring the project through its DC Schools Fund.

Four DC elementary schools will participate in the first year of operations. Children reading below grade level at each school will receive focused literacy tutoring from trained community volunteers through an innovative model originally developed at Stanford University. The program currently serves 24 elementary schools throughout California.

“We were eager to support this initiative because of the opportunities it provides for our students,” says Juana Brown, Chief Academic Officer for Center City Public Charter Schools, which operates six schools in DC. “The depth and breadth of Reading Partners’ program will enhance our students’ reading skills as well as promote self-esteem.”

Since launching ten years ago in Silicon Valley, Reading Partners has helped thousands of children measurably narrow the achievement gap. Its innovative model of structured volunteer intervention boasts an 87 percent success rate in helping students catch up.

Click here to read more.

Filed under: Community,Funding


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