Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Surprise! Tutoring Works.

I was reading an Education Week article this morning about tutoring and how the provision on tutoring is playing out with NCLB renewal. The article cites a study that demonstrates how students’ test scores grew faster in years in which they had received tutoring than in years they hadn’t. I don't even understand how that's a surprise.

While politicians and educrats are squabbling over how much money this is costing, I'm wondering why no one is asking why tutoring is effective? How are they doing it? Why aren't we transfering some of these (dare I say it?) methods of direct and guided instruction to the classroom?

And yes, I do realize that there is a significant difference between teaching a class of 24 students and tutoring one or a few children. However, is that the only variable creating the chasm in learning? Could it possibly be that the type of instruction (DIRECT) is making a difference? Isn't the point of education having the child actually learning something or are we ready to admit that the pedagogical theory takes precedence over the objective of actually teaching our children?

Maybe I just don't get it.


LynnG said...

Is it possible that the pundits and politicians think tutors use discovery learning and project based curriculum?

Maybe they believe tutors assign more coloring projects for reading comprehension and that makes all the difference.

nicole said...

Yes tutoring works... duh it is only the oldest form of academic instruction. If your child needs help and public schools aren't cutting it then tutoring is the solution. Learning is sooo much easier one-on-one. Some great tutoring companies are, Crown Tutoring, TutorsTeach, and .

concernedCTparent said...

While it's a shame that such significant learning isn't occuring in the classroom itself, tutoring and afterschooling are crucial given today's educational debacle. I like Kumon for tutoring and for afterschooling my vote goes to Singapore and Saxon.

PaulaV said...


Hello, PaulaV. here. I was wondering what you were using to afterschool your kids in language arts?

My first and fourth grader need writing experience. The only writing work they receive in class is journaling. Both need something more explicit. Can you recommend anything?

Both my children attend Kumon. First grader goes for reading and fourth grader goes for math and reading. While I like Kumon reading for basic grammar and usage, my fourth grader needs something more.

concernedCTparent said...

Hi Paula. Please keep in mind that my experience with this is limited because I've only been homeschooling as of this school year. I've just begin afterschooling the language arts for the younger two this year as well.

With that caveat in mind, we are using Hake Grammar 6 and am very happy with the results so far. Hake is mostly a grammar program, however and if you're already doing Kumon's language component it may be overkill. Hake begins with Hake 5, and your 4th grader may be ready for it but you'd have to look at the material (I think they have sample lessons online). The grammar includes sentence combining exercises that are very good, there is journaling but I have to say the topics are specific and though provoking (there's no free-journaling) and the there is also a writing component which does a decent job of teaching writing. Dictation of short paragraphs dealing with interesting topics in history and classic literature are a weekly component of the program as well. I think this all comes together very nicely and my once reluctant but highly verbal writer has made very significant progress in the short time we've been homeschooling.

For writing experience, we have also incorporated Writing Strands. I would tend to start on a lower level than you may need with these and build up confidence (as Kumon does). This is a solid way to add a writing component that can be easily used for afterschooling. It is very process oriented and really breaks down the writing process so it's not so overwhelming.

I have to say Kerrigan's Writing to the Point is fantastic from a "teaching writing" point of view and my daughter is really blossoming using the X-1-2-3 method. She's really internalized that process and we're both working to understand the fine points of the Kerrigan method. It's an ongoing process.

Having said ALL that, my daughter has many opportunities to write about topics she's very interested in. She is fascinated by ancient history and her weekly schedule incorporates outlining material she's read, summarizing a particular topic or idea she has learned, and preparing book reports. Last year this might have seemed insurmountable but all the components of what we're doing for language arts have played a large role in developing her writing abilities.

My second grader is using First Language Lessons for his language arts afterschooling. It is similar in concept to what Hake does for older students. I am fortunate that his teacher is passionate about writing and he has opportunities to do real writing at school. However, by next year I expect to homeschool him as well so we'll have to work on a program for him as well.

Hope I answered your question. It took me long enough, didn't it?

PaulaV said...


I remember you had mentioned what you used on KTM, but I couldn't find the post so thanks so much for retelling the information.

My fourth grader is doing main topics and supporting details in Kumon and it has been a killer for him. This has been briefly touched upon in school in a vague fashion so for him it is as though he is seeing it for the first time.

I have not read Kerrigan yet, but it is on my to do list. My list seems to grow daily.

First Language Lessons seems very good! My school uses 6+1 Writing Traits and I'm not too thrilled with it so far. I would prefer my first grader to learn grammar first and find his "voice" later.

My children would benefit from a great deal of process orientation. Thank you again for your suggestions.

By the way, I enjoy your blog ( a daily stop) and always find your comments on KTM to the point and quite funny at times. Keep it coming!

concernedCTparent said...

Thanks Paula. KTM is very good company to keep.

Here's the link to that KTM entry:

SusanS said...

Hey Paula,

We're over here!

Look over at EPS Publishing online. I got The Paragraph Book for my son, but it was a little too basic for him since he's in middle school. I thought it was mostly pointed to 4th/5th grade.

There were some other good ones over there that really targeted that age group

PaulaV said...

Hi Susan,

Which paragraph book would that be?

The Wordly Wise series at EPS is wonderful...I ordered it for my first grader.

SusanS said...

I saw the Worldly Wise series. I never got to that one, but who knows? I've heard good things about it.

The Paragraph Book is called just that. It's remedial, I believe, but the exercises were easy (and revealing) Here's the link:

I also used another writing one over there that was a bit more advanced.

PaulaV said...

Thanks Susan for the link. I'll be sure to check it out.

Instructivist said...

[While politicians and educrats are squabbling over how much money this is costing, I'm wondering why no one is asking why tutoring is effective? How are they doing it? Why aren't we transfering some of these (dare I say it?) methods of direct and guided instruction to the classroom?]

I have been trying out comment searching with Google to see when comments become searchable, and chanced upon this older post.

I am all in favor of tutoring and think it is the best way of teaching and learning.

Unfortunately, not all is well with NCLB-mandated tutoring. The companies that line up for NCLB afterschooling and get on the state-approved list don't really offer tutoring in the sense you and I would understand it.

Instead, in math they offer hands-on stuff, games and coloring that may be OK for the very low grades. I know several big providers and have yet to see focused, coherent resources for anything above 3rd or4th grade that deals with the students' needs. Most of the stuff in math I have seen is worse than a joke. For some reason, the providers don't allow homework help.

I really think Congress or the Dep of Ed needs to do a serious investigation. The NCLB afterschooling provision is a good idea that is a travesty as it is practiced.