February 27, 2014

Intensive Small-Group Tutoring and Counseling Helps Struggling Students

By Motoko Rich, The New York Times, originally published on 1/26/14

Tutors work with two students each in a program at William R. Harper High School, on Chicago’s South Side, that has helped African-American students bridge gaps in math skills. Photo credit: Sally Ryan for The New York Times

By the time they reach eighth grade, according to federal tests, half of all African-American schoolboys have not mastered the most basic math skills that educators consider essential for their grade level. A new paper being released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests a promising approach for helping the most challenged students, who often arrive in high school several years behind their peers.

The study, which was conducted by a team led by Jens Ludwig, the co-director of the University of Chicago Urban Education Lab, provided a program of intense tutoring, in combination with group behavioral counseling, to a group of low-income ninth- and 10th-grade African-American youths with weak math skills, track records of absences or disciplinary problems. Those students learned in an eight-month period the equivalent of what the average American high school student learns in math over three years of school, as measured by standardized test scores, over and above what a similar group of students who did not receive the tutoring or counseling did.

The study was conducted in 2012-13 in a randomized trial comparing groups of male students at W. R. Harper High School, an impoverished neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, a site of frequent gang violence. Of the 106 teenagers in the study, all but one were eligible for free or reduced lunch and about one-quarter of them had received a diagnosis of a learning disability.

In addition to the test scores, far more of the students in the program met indicators of being on track to graduate from high school on time than their peers who were not given tutoring or counseling.

To read more click here.

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,High School

February 21, 2014

Pinellas schools to fill tutor shortage with college students, retirees

By Anastasia Dawson, St. Petersburg Tribune Staff, originally published on 12/3/13

The Pinellas County School System has offered a slew of new tutoring opportunities to students this school year, but has struggled to find enough teachers to keep up with demand. Now, the school district is looking to college students and retirees to plug the gap. College students with at least 60 credit hours can earn $20 an hour tutoring students in the Pinellas County School System. In years past, the position has paid teachers $13 to $15 an hour.

The new plan is meant to fill the shortage of available teachers in the Extended Learning Program. Retired educators, and those with expired teaching certificates can also take advantage of the employment opportunity, a point of contention with the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association. During salary negotiations earlier this year, president of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers’ Association Kim Black said teachers should be paid their normal hourly wages during the after school tutoring sessions, which can be around $36 an hour for some veterans of the school system, instead of the “discounted rate,” that some view as a “way to get teaching on the cheap.”

But while Black argues that more teachers may be encouraged to work extra hours with more pay, Pinellas Park Middle School Principal Dave Rosenberger said the demands that came with the multiple programs added this school year make teacher burnout a real concern. At Pinellas Park Middle, a majority of the 1,100 students take advantage of before and after school programs that can keep some at school from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., eating all three meals in the school cafeteria alongside their teachers. The extra programs are intended to change the culture at the school, which got a new principal and staff this year after years of failing school grades from the state. Yet, the grueling hours can take a toll on teachers, Rosenberger said.

To read more click here.

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,High School,K-8

February 15, 2014

Meet the $1,250-an-hour tutor

By Robert Frank, CNBC Reporter and Editor, originally published 12/12/13

Nathaniel Hannan

Nathaniel Hannan looks and sounds like many other young, highly qualified teachers. The 33-year-old Indiana native went to Notre Dame and got his masters at Oxford in philosophy and theology before becoming a high school teacher in Washington, D.C. He loves to teach and has a gift for communicating. But today, instead of working for a school, Hannan tutors the children of wealthy families. And he makes up to $1,250 an hour. “It’s different clients, but the same business,” he said.

Actually, it’s a different business entirely—and it’s growing rapidly. While much of the American education system is struggling with tight budgets, overcrowded classrooms and low teacher pay, the tutor economy is booming. More and more of the world’s millionaires and billionaires are seeking at-home teachers to give their children a leg up in the increasingly competitive and important education race. And, as the number of rich people grows around the world—and as more of them split their time between multiple homes in different countries—they are creating their own mobile, ultra-private schools in their homes.

Tutors International, a London-based tutor agency that hires and places many tutors in the U.S., said its business this year will nearly double over last year. The typical salary for a full-time tutor today has jumped to between $70,000 and $120,000 depending on the requirements. But Tutors International has placed one tutor who is making $400,000 a year and another who was paid $80,000 for just 16 weeks of work. Along with their pay, most tutors also usually get free housing, cars or drivers, paid travel and meals, and occasionally even a private chef and personal assistant.

To read more click here.

Filed under: Commercial Providers,Small Private Practices

February 6, 2014

South Side High School seniors launch free online tutoring site

By Tara Conry, long Island Newsday, originally published 11/29/13

Students at South Side High School in Rockville Centre can now summon a free tutor thanks to an online service launched by four of their schoolmates. The group created SSHSTutoring.com, a portal that makes peer-to-peer tutoring anonymous and more flexible. (Credit: Tara Conry)

When Michael Spelfogel receives a pop-up message on his cell phone, he knows one of his schoolmates needs help, and he’s ready to come to the rescue. Whether they’re struggling with trigonometry, physics or French, students at South Side High School in Rockville Centre now have the ability to summon a tutor using a computer, smartphone or tablet.

In October, Spelfogel, 17, a senior, and three of his classmates — Thomas Keady, 17, Matt Giovanniello, 17, and Yu-Kuan “Anthony” Lai, 17 — developed and launched SSHSTutoring.com, a free online portal for peer-to-peer tutoring. Spelfogel said the idea came to him after his National Honor Society adviser announced in late September that all members needed to complete 40 minutes of tutoring either before or during the school day. That posed a problem for Spelfogel and his friends. “We all have very rigorous schedules, no ‘off’ periods,” he said.

The four seniors devised an alternative. By taking tutoring online, they realized they could offer both tutors and students in need of help more flexibility. “The time when students really find out they don’t understand a topic is at night when they’re studying for a test that’s tomorrow,” Lai said. “That’s when you need the help the most.”

When students visit the site, which Spelfogel, Keady, Giovanniello and Lai created together from scratch, they can select from a list of 19 subjects and are asked to indicate the course’s level — Regents or Advanced, for instance — their teacher, and their question. They can also attach a file to show the material they’re struggling with.  Once the request is sent, a tutor will receive a notification on his or her phone and will then engage in a live chat with the person needing help. Both parties remain anonymous, which Spelfogel said, is another advantage.

To read more click here.

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,High School,Peer-Tutoring,Technology

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