May 31, 2011

State Money for Bogus Tutoring?

Reported by Chris Koeberl, originally broadcast on ABC6 on 4/28/11

Hundreds of thousands of dollars of federal money is pouring into the Columbus City Schools District for after-school tutoring programs. But, after months of research, an ABC6 investigation reveals the vast majority of these programs aren’t making the grade. In fact, as ABC6 Investigator Chris Koeberl finds, most of the students are actually failing.

Sharon Panico, of Sylvan Learning Center, “The goal here is to help children succeed and the goal here is to master some skills that they have not quite mastered.” The goal of federal Supplemental Education Services money, or S.E.S. funds, is being achieved at this Sylvan Learning Center in Hilliard. Here, children who need a little extra help to keep up in school are getting that assistance after school.

The concept is no child is left behind.

Unfortunately, Koeberl’s ABC6 investigation uncovered that this is one of only a small handful of after-school tutoring programs receiving federal money that’s making the grade in the Columbus area.

In confronting Mussa Farah, Koeberl said, “We are trying to talk to you. We want to get your side of the story about the Horn of Africa.”

“No, talk to my lawyer,” Farah replied.

Farah is the head of the Horn of Africa, a state-approved tutoring program that received tens of thousands of dollars of federal money funneled through the Columbus City Schools District for after-school tutoring.

Click here to continue reading the full story and view the video.

Filed under: NCLB

May 22, 2011

Williston tutoring program begins pilot program using iPads

By Amanda Greene, originally published in the Wilmington StarNews on 4/22/11

Williston Middle School sixth-grader Treyquan Corbett couldn’t put down the iPad. Not even to walk to class last week. So fascinated by the new gadget was the 12 year old that he walked from the school library to his after-school tutoring classroom, making corners and going down and up a walkway, while playing Word Solitaire on the machine.

His teachers were concerned he might walk into a wall. But he didn’t.

To Treyquan and many of his classmates at Williston, the iPads the school is piloting as part of a 21st century technology initiative is the new version of walking with your nose in a riveting novel. “I can play games with my finger, and I’m learning some new words,” said Treyquan. He shrunk and expanded the text on the screen with his thumb and forefinger.

Integrating learning with the iPad is the aim of a pilot program at Williston. Right now, about 50 students in the after-school tutoring program are piloting iPads for their work. Next year, each sixth grader will get one to use at school. And Williston hopes to expand the program to the seventh and eighth grades in coming years.

Williston was picked for the initiative because of its math and technology focus, said Dawn Brinson, chief technology officer for New Hanover County Schools. The county purchased the iPads using about $100,000 in Disadvantaged Student Supplemental Funds from the state.

“The whole purpose was to engage the kids, and you can differentiate within the classroom a lot easier using iPad applications,” she said. That will help classroom teachers next year as state budget cuts are forcing many districts including New Hanover County to consider cutting teacher assistants.

Click here to continue reading the full article.

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,K-8,Technology

May 15, 2011

Three Methods of Ongoing Assessment Used by Tutors

The following article was excerpted from the Intermediate section of the Crossroads of Learning Tutoring Foundations Online Training and Classroom Workbook tutor training programs.

19173468_female_tutor_with_female_studentAs you continue working with a student following your initial assessment you will need to conduct some type of informal evaluation during each session to determine whether the student has learned the material covered in the session and where to begin instruction in the next session. The methods described below will help you in assessing student performance.


An observation is a simple way to determine what a student does when he/she is completing an assignment. The tutor merely gives the student a task to complete and then watches the student as he/she completes the assignment. The tutor should note how the student goes about the assignment.

  • Does he/she use an organized strategic approach or is the approach hit or miss/trial and error?
  • What portions of the work are done correctly or incorrectly?
  • Is there any evidence of frustration or confusion in completing the work?
  • How well is the student able to maintain focus on the task?
  • Does the student recheck his/her work for errors?
Think Alouds

A think-aloud is similar to an observation except that with this method the student thinks out loud and verbalizes what he/she is doing while performing a task. The student should say whatever he or she is looking at, thinking, doing, and feeling while going about the task as the tutor watches and listens. The tutor should not interject anything into the process, even if the student is proceeding incorrectly. The think-aloud allows the tutor to:

  • understand how the student is approaching a particular task or problem.
  • find out exactly where in the process the student is experiencing difficulties.
  • determine what concepts the student is missing.
  • uncover any misconceptions the student might have about the topic.

Click here to read more.

Filed under: Tutoring Practices

May 10, 2011

Upward Bound reaches deal with USF for new life

by Nanette Asimov, originally published in the San Fancisco Chronicle on 4/19/11

Sometimes it pays to speak out – loudly.

Upward Bound, the civil rights era college-prep program that used tactics of the ’60s – marching, chanting and waving signs – to protest the University of San Francisco’s decision to oust it from campus after 45 years, is celebrating an agreement that will let it stay.

“I feel good. I feel hopeful,” said Director Janice Dirden-Cook, who joined in three demonstrations meant to call attention to Upward Bound’s academic benefits and to show why it should remain at USF. “I don’t think we would have reached any agreement had it not been for those” protests, she said.

A national program credited with helping to send thousands of low-income students to college, Upward Bound serves nearly 200 students at San Francisco high schools, through a residential summer program at USF and year-round tutoring.

But USF had said it would no longer sponsor Upward Bound’s five-year grant application, due next fall. Officials said the program would have to find another host because USF needed more classroom space for its growing student body.

Then came the protests: a campus demonstration organized by USF students. A night-time vigil. Then, on April 11, about 100 marchers who caught the attention not only of passing motorists, but also of USF leaders.

Click here to read the full story.

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Government,High School


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