December 31, 2013

After Misuse, a Push to Continue Tutoring Mandate in Texas

by Morgan Smith, The Texas Tribune, originally published Oct. 20, 2013

A decade after it became law as a part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, a tutoring program heralded as an academic safety net for children from low-income families in struggling schools has earned few champions — and lost many supporters. “It was an unmitigated disaster,” said Michael Petrilli, a former Bush administration official who helped develop and promote the initiative during his four years in the federal Education Department. “It was a poorly thought-through policy, and I think it has run its course and should be allowed to die.”

Under the No Child Left Behind tutoring program, underperforming schools had to set aside a portion of the federal financing they received for economically disadvantaged students to get outside tutoring. In Texas, with minimal quality control at the state level, it resulted in millions of dollars in public money going to companies that at best showed little evidence of their services’ academic benefit, and at worst committed outright fraud. The program has been suspended in Texas, as the state secured a waiver from the federal law’s requirements last month. Education officials have said that, for now, there are no plans to continue the program at the state level.

But as No Child Left Behind awaits Congressional reauthorization, the tutoring industry is energetically pushing federal policy makers to preserve public funding for tutoring, either in the updated law or other legislation — lobbying efforts expected to be duplicated at the state level in Texas, where over the years tutoring companies have cultivated powerful political ties.

“I have no doubt that the next legislative session, they will lobby for this way of spending dollars to be decided in Austin instead of the neighborhood school level, and I think that would be a real disservice,” said state Rep. Mike Villarreal, a San Antonio Democrat who passed legislation during the 2013 session tightening regulations on the federal tutoring program.

To read more click here.

Filed under: Government,NCLB

December 24, 2013

EPASA tutoring goes beyond the classroom

By Minkee Sohn, The Stanford Daily, originally published 10/14/23

Courtesy of Dominique Mikell.

The East Palo Alto Stanford Academy (EPASA), a long-standing organization of the Haas Center’s Education Partnerships program, has undergone significant changes since its inception in 1986 with new offerings in store. Over the past 27 years, EPASA has been pairing Stanford tutors with seventh and eighth-grade students from the Ravenswood City School District to provide weekly tutoring in topics such as math and writing for one to two years.

EPASA Director Theresa Metz said that beyond the academic tutoring, the program fosters more personal relationships with the middle-schoolers and their families. Aiming to maximize the students’ education, the program has also established working relationships with the principals and teachers of the schools the children attend. These key relationships build the strong “sense of connectedness and community” that Metz sees as a unique quality for the program.

Amika Guillaume, principal of Cesar Chavez & Green Oaks Academy appreciates Stanford’s dedication to the local schools. “[Workers at EPASA] invest in our students over time,” she said. “We value their partnership.”

During a tutor orientation on Oct. 6, administrators from the Haas Center discussed the objectives of EPASA with tutors volunteering for the program. EPASA aims to strengthen its focus on community connectedness by developing a greater degree of commitment on the part of Stanford tutors and better communicate what the program’s needs are to those involved. Co Tran ’17, a freshman tutor for EPASA, said that she was involved because seventh grade was rather a pivotal year for her, especially because she felt people took interest in her academic career. She added that EPASA middle-schoolers are at a time in their lives during which they decide the kind of person they are going to be.

To read more click here.

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

December 15, 2013

Your tutor is a computer

by David Israelson, Special to The Globe and Mail, originally published 10/17/13

Gil Silberstein’s MyBlueprint service offers an online tool for coaches, teachers and guidance counsellors to work with students on their academic plans. (Galit Rodan For The Globe and Mail)

When Kate Lloyd founded Evoke Learning in 2009, she knew the academic coaching service would involve lots of personal contact with her clients. Ms. Lloyd has learned a lot herself since then – about how that also means working with technology to take the service to another level.

“We specialize in working with students with exceptionalities, students undergoing transitions and students who are trying to manage an athletic-academic balance,” says Ms. Lloyd, 41.

It’s a burgeoning field, as students of all ages seek to cope with pressures ranging from exam stress to dealing with learning disabilities to deciding which high school courses to take or how to ace a PhD dissertation. Ms. Lloyd runs a network of 15 tutors and independent coaches in the Greater Toronto Area; together they see about 80 clients a week. Technology has come into play to help the consultants at Evoke, headquartered in Toronto, provide help more effectively. Clients benefit more, too.

“We use it to connect to our clients as well as a tool to connect the client to the curriculum,” Ms. Lloyd explains. “We also use technology to promote accountability and check-ins with clients during the week, when we don’t see them. And  Evoke also encourages students to organize themselves using technology.”

Using technology as an organizational tool to help students meet pressures and challenges is another growing aspect of the business side of education.

After graduating from the University of Western University’s Richard Ivey Business School in London, Ont., Gil Silberstein founded MyBlueprint seven years ago in Toronto. His company offers an online tool for coaches, teachers and guidance counsellors to work with students on their academic plans.

To read more click here.


Filed under: Coaching,Technology

December 3, 2013

Local nonagenarian provides tutoring for GED students

By Gary Stallard/Angelina College News Service, originally published on 10/16/13 in the Lufkin News

John Woodside, left, works with student Austin Longoria in the Adult Learning Center on the Angelina College campus. Woodside, 97, has worked the past 12 years as a voluntary tutor for students studying for GED testing. (AC Press photo)

His life reads like one of the math problems he’s fond of helping students solve. Find the correlation between the following numbers: 16, 97, 36, 12 and 25.

The 16 is part of 1916, the year John Woodside was born, making him 97 years old. The 36 is from 1936, the year he graduated Arkansas State University — from where he holds Distinguished Alumnus status — with his degree in chemistry. He’d later earn his master’s in chemistry from Oklahoma State University. The 12 marks the number of years he’s been serving as a voluntary tutor at the Adult Learning Center in Lufkin, with the past several of those taking place at the current facility on the campus of Angelina College. And the 25 marks the average age of the students receiving help from this dedicated nonagenarian.

Remarkably, before beginning his service as a volunteer math tutor, Woodside had never taught school at any level despite his vast years of knowledge and experience as a chemist and chemical plant manager for oil companies in locations around the world. With his credentials, it wouldn’t be a reach to picture him at the front of a large lecture hall in a major university.

And yet here he is, 12 years after overhearing a conversation between friends in which they spoke of the need for tutors for students studying for their General Education Development (GED) tests. Such tutors are part of AC’s ongoing initiative to provide outside help and include such entities as Smarthinking and the Kahn Academy, both web-based tutorials.

To read more click here.

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Community


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