20 school reforms: no 12: tutoring

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Tutoring.

The Elephant in the Classroom believes tutoring promises help for students who are falling behind or who need individualized assistance. In Pinellas County, Florida, the school system is hiring college students at $20 an hour to tutor. The college students must have at least a 2.5 grade point average. Bill Maxwell, “A Debate on Tutors, Teachers,” Tampa Bay Times, December 15, 2013.

I’m a great believer in tutoring, and this is a good way to improve basic skills such as reading and mathematics.  Experienced teachers would do a better job than college students and this approach won’t change the basic thrust of teaching today, but I think it is a positive remedial effort.

The cost of tutoring for all students K – 12 is prohibitive, but it should be offered to elementary school students who are significantly below average in reading or math. This is especially true for poor children. So, tutoring is good if the goal is to bring them up to an average level but it is not so good if the goal is to merely help them pass high-stakes tests which most students shouldn’t be taking in the first place.

Again, we run into the old myth of college for everyone. This tutoring should help them with basic skills and not trigonometry; not to prepare all kids for that pie in the sky which we call college.

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