October 30, 2011

District 65 tutoring program keeps local kids on track

by Kimberly Elsham, originally published in the EvanstonPatch on 8/22/11

For the last month, teens were in Evanston elementary schools helping summer school students with hands-on projects like building solar ovens or managing simple machines. On Aug. 11, 45 teenagers wrapped up their first summer jobs as tutors in District 65. The kids, between 14 and 16 years old, were part of the annual Summer Tutors Program, where young people are hired to work in District 65 elementary classrooms and offices to assist with the district’s summer programs.

Of about 150 qualified applicants, 45 were selected, said Kim Hoopingarner, Youth Job Center development director. This is the largest number of tutors the program has had in its 16 years and the highest in participation. “This year was the best year,” she said. “We had all 45 who started the program complete it.”

Summer tutors are placed one per classroom for the summer courses for kindergarteners to fourth-graders, said Jamilla Pitts, District 65 summer learning coordinator. The summer school’s curriculum includes “STEM” courses, which highlight science, technology, engineering and math. This is where two summer tutors assist students with hands-on projects in the classroom, such as building solar ovens. “We appreciate the way that they pitch in and feel as much a part of making the program a success as the teachers do,” Pitts said.

The program, which started in 1995, is a partnership between District 65 and the Youth Job Center in Evanston that runs from July 11 to Aug. 11 each year. Tutors work in District 65 elementary schools from 8:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Monday through Thursday and earn a stipend paid by the Youth Job Center.

To read the full story click here.

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

October 25, 2011

Lifetoucher Tutoring Program Joins Senior Citizens, Students

By Shriley Li, originally published in the DarienPatch on 8/19/11

The senior citizens of the Lifetoucher Volunteer Program reach across generations to help young children of the Darien School District No. 61 improve academically. With 24 volunteers this past school year, the program successfully provided instruction and tutoring to students who needed extra help, no matter the subject. Some volunteers worked on poetry and reading with the children, while others provided math exercises and helped them make flashcards.

Lillian Brown, an 83-year-old volunteer at Mark DeLay School, worked with second-graders, mostly on an individual basis. She said she aimed to improve their reading skills and read poems, both to and with the children. At home, the children were encouraged to read to their families and obtain parent or guardian signatures after they were done. Brown said as the children worked on their reading, they were awarded small prizes, including stickers and basic school supplies.

“The children really enjoyed it,” she said. “It was nice to hear them as they learned new words … it helps increase their reading skills.”

The program began as an effort to increase the role of senior citizens in the community and is led by Mary Swenson, a social worker at Mark DeLay School.

To read the full story click here.

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Community

October 19, 2011

Minnesota Moves to Exempt Itself from No Child Left Behind

By Drew Miller, published on 8/15/11 in the RitchfieldPatch

Richfield Public Schools Superintendent Bob Slotterback thinks the law has been bad for education.

On Aug. 8, 2011 Gov. Mark Dayton announced that Minnesota would seek exemption from the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The announcement followed on the heels of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s notification that the federal government would begin granting waivers to states it believed were satisfactorily improving schools on their own.

Richfield Public Schools Superintendent Bob Slotterback greeted the news positively, although he didn’t yet know anything about the exemption’s details. Slotterback said the law has had problems from the start. “Conceptually [NCLB] is a good idea, but like many concepts, if it’s not constructed in the right way, it becomes a failure,” Slotterback said. “And that’s exactly what happened with No Child Left Behind.”

Gov. Dayton’s announcement came just before the Minnesota Department of Education released scores for the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) in Science on Friday.

Amongst a slew of data about student scores across the state, this year’s MCA testing in science revealed that, between 2010 and 2011, Richfield Public Schools doubled the percentage of its fifth-grade students with proficient scores on the exam. Slotterback said inefficient means of comparing student improvement–looking at how effectively students improve in one school or district –was just one area where the law wasn’t working. “We’ve been lobbying hard as [federal legislators] re-authorize No Child Left Behind to build in some type of improvement component,” he said. “Our students … are growing faster than the average student.”

Slotterback conceded that the law had enacted some positive changes as well.

To read the full story click here.

Filed under: Government,NCLB

October 10, 2011

CAPPS prepares for year three of its after school tutoring program

by Daniel Brunty, published 8/5/11 in the Winston County Journal

The Changing Academic Performance and Promoting Success (CAPPS) program will begin its third year of service for after school learning on Monday, August 15.

CAPPS is a free after-school tutoring program offered to all Louisville Municipal School District students’ grades 5-12. CAPPS is currently offered to at four school sites: Eiland, Noxapater, Nanih Waiya, and the Boys and Girls Club of Winston County. Times for the program are Monday through Thursday from 3 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. “We are excited about starting our third year of CAPPS,” said Leigh Ann Hailey, director of the CAPPS program. “From the first year up until now, the program has been very successful for the children.”

The program focuses on enhancing character education and student skills in key learning areas such as math and language skills. The program also offers enrichment activities, tutoring, homework assistance, computer projects, group activities, and educational field trips for students. The CAPPS program runs for 15 weeks in the fall, 15 weeks in the spring, and 4 weeks in the summer. This allows access to the program during any time of the year, a big plus for students who want to use it.

Like last year, teachers have seen the positive results the program has had on their students. Hailey also knows that these positive results have carried over to the state tests, in which students who attended CAPPS usually have higher scores. “Teachers reported the students in CAPPS were more prepared for classroom work and that preparation should be seen on the state tests,” Hailey said. “Once we have the data, we can compare the previous year’s scores to evaluate the program’s value.”

To read the full article click here.

Filed under: Community

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