November 30, 2011

UNM CAPS tutoring service gets mixed reviews

by Felipe Medina-Marquez, New Mexico Daily Lobo, originally published 9/29/11

[Publisher’s Note: Shortly after the story below was re-published on the Crossroads of Learning Journal we were contacted by Dr. Daniel Sanford, the Senior Program Manager for the CAPS program at UNM. He shared that the they were not contacted during the development of the article to provide research and other information which would have prevented innacuracies that were included. On 12/26/11 we published a profile from Dr. Sanford describing the CAPS program which can be found at http://crossroadsoflearning.com/journal/?p=795.

Each semester, the Center for Academic Program Support (CAPS) provides tutoring assistance to more than 4,000 students in several areas of study.While many students are satisfied with the outcomes of these sessions, some students, like Miguel Aragon, said they aren’t getting the help that they’re looking for. On a scale from one to 10, Aragon said he rates CAPS a five. “I wouldn’t go there unless I absolutely had to,” he said. “There’d be situations where I needed help, but I didn’t think I would get any help, so I just kind of do it on my own.”

Although no official statistical evidence exists concerning UNM students’ level of satisfaction with CAPS, anecdotal evidence suggests students aren’t happy with their CAPS experiences.

After a few bad experiences at CAPS, Aragon said he became weary of the peer-tutoring service. He said he once sought help on an English assignment, but a tutor told him to ask someone else because she was working on a homework assignment.

Daniel Sanford, interim senior program manager at CAPS, said the incident Aragon described was a direct violation of the policies for CAPS employees. “That’s exactly the type of situation I would very much like people to bring to my attention,” Sanford said. “That’s a situation that I can use as a discussion point in training the tutors.”

Other students said the ratio of tutors to students is too low, making it difficult for students to get adequate help.

To read the full story click here.

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,College

November 27, 2011

State orders overhaul of tutor system

By Jennifer Smith Richards, The Columbus Dispatch, as originally appeared on 4/4/11

Hundreds of students are being tutored in ineffective or unsafe operations, according to the state and district reviews of a program that spent $3 million last year to help poor children in the Columbus schools catch up.

Ohio’s school superintendent, Stan Heffner, yesterday ordered a statewide overhaul that will impose tougher standards on tutors, shine a light on their performance and help districts oversee the contractors who participate in the federally funded program. It will begin next year. He said the 270 tutoring groups that receive money to tutor Ohio students will have to reapply before the 2012-13 school year to keep participating. They’ll have to prove they’re able to help children and able to accurately charge for their services.

And the Ohio Department of Education will start telling parents more about the quality of tutoring groups, so they will have information to choose the best one.  “It’s important to make sure the tutoring program works as well as possible,” Heffner said in a statement. “If ODE’s oversight has not been tough enough, then we’ll change that. I’ve ordered a review of our process to begin immediately.”

The state and the Columbus school district have struggled to police the No Child Left Behind mandate, which is vulnerable to fraud because there is so little oversight and so few limits on who may tutor children. Allegations of wrongdoing in the program, called supplemental educational services, have led to investigations at the federal, state and district level.  The state Education Department’s review of problems in the Columbus tutoring program was released yesterday, timed in part because of questions raised by The Dispatch. The education department’s review didn’t examine whether fraud had occurred; the state auditor’s office is investigating that.

To read the full story click here.

Filed under: Government,NCLB

November 16, 2011

Tutors, mentors merge for new schools program

By Devon Haynie, originally published in the Journal Gazette on 8/26/11

FORT WAYNE – United Way of Allen County and Big Brothers Big Sisters are joining forces to offer a new mentoring and tutoring program in Allen County public school districts. The two groups announced plans Thursday to combine their in-school programs to create “School Buddies: Bigs in Schools.” As part of the program, adult volunteers will meet students over lunch and during recess, when they will read to children and serve as mentors.

Officials said the new program is unique in that adults get to spend one-on-one time with elementary students, while avoiding taking them away from instructional time in class. “Research shows that the greatest success can be achieved when mentoring and tutoring are combined,” Todd Stephenson, president and CEO of United Way, said. “By combining mentoring and literacy help, our volunteers will have a greater impact on local children who need to improve their reading skills.”

School personnel will choose students to participate in the new program, which will include 28 elementary schools across all four Allen County public school districts. Under United Way’s former program, called Classroom Buddies, adults were sometimes paired with multiple students and often met with them during class time. Under Big Brothers Big Sisters’ former program, called Lunch Buddies, volunteers spent time mentoring students during lunch hour.

To read the full story click here.

Filed under: Community

November 8, 2011

Auburndale senior group tutors h.s. students

By Paula Stuart, News Chief Correspondent, NewsChief.com originally published on 8/22/11

As financial cut-backs take hold in Polk County schools, a group of volunteers from Auburndale are making efforts to ease the impact on the students. The Hampton’s Educational Foundation is a group of 60 retired residents from the Hampton community of Auburndale who are turning their attention from giving scholarships to providing tutoring for high school students. “We have to help these schools one way or another,” Kevin Dunn said.

Tenoroc High Principal Ernest Joe said this tutoring will help with student testing and SAT and ACT scores. “Now with budget cuts, this is a blessing. I am blessed to be in a community where folks are coming in and helping us win the game,” said Joe, whose school and Auburndale High School will benefit from the free tutoring.

In the past, the Hampton’s foundation has awarded scholarships have been awarded. “Up until now, our work has been scholarships. We have given a total of 33 from the foundation since it formed in 2008,” he said.

In addition to that going, Dunn and other members of the group wanted to offer help on a daily basis and make it available for the entire student body. “I started volunteering at the high school and found out that the need is beyond belief and scary,” he said. “Our graduation rate isn’t really spectacular. The state is cutting so much funding.” The tutoring program, Dunn said, could benefit up to 3,000 students. “You know what the economy is like right now and they are cutting teachers, but this program will help and you will see that in the state test scores,” he said.

To read the full story click here.

Filed under: High School

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