Online Tutoring is NOT Remote Learning or Distance Learning

Online Tutoring is NOT Remote Learning or Distance Learning

Student Achievement Suffered Due to Remote Learning

In an article published this week by Education Week, reporter Mark Lieberman discusses the continued debate over the harms of extended remote learning. He cites a report published on November 28 from the American Enterprise Institute that “found that districts that stuck with full-time remote learning for longer in the first year of the pandemic saw larger declines in enrollment in subsequent school years” and that these findings showed clear signs that remote learning was among the factors that “diminished academic achievement for millions of students in the last couple of years.”

What Do They Mean by “Remote Learning?”

A definition is in order here, to make sure we all understand what they are talking about. Remote learning was the quickly constructed “solution” to schools that were closed to in-person learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. Initially it was thought this would be a short-term solution, but school districts, parents, teachers, politicians, and others were reluctant to send students back to school while there was an increase in infections and uncertainty about how it would affect students in the school environment. So “online school” lasted much longer than first anticipated. Starting in the final months of the 2020-2021 school year, many schools kept students at home for many more months, or even the entire school year of 2021-2022. Other schools implemented a hybrid approach, where students attended 2 or 3 days in person, with the remaining days remote.

Remote learning was not a universally built and deployed replacement for in-person school, and some things quickly became clear. Not all students had the technology or the internet access needed to participate. Even those who did had to share that computer and internet access with siblings and parents who were suddenly working from home. At a particular disadvantage were students in lower-income areas. This was a huge contributor to student dropout rates and low attendance, as recent research showed.

Teachers were also inexperienced with the new format and struggled to translate classroom activities to online gatherings. As teachers dropped out, the ones who were left found themselves with even greater responsibilities and challenges. In most cases, there was little to no training or preparation for this new reality, and teachers struggled to do their best.

If Remote Learning is Bad, What About Online Tutoring?

There can’t be many people who aren’t aware of how much time we all spend staring at screens. “Globally, people average 6 hours 58 minutes of screen time per day. The average American spends 7 hours and 4 minutes looking at (an internet-connected) screen each day,” according to Digital Information World. Gen Z spends around 9 hours per day looking at a screen. For the average US teen, this breaks down to:

  • Watching TV/Videos – 3 hours 16 mins
  • Gaming – 1 hour 46 mins
  • Social Media – 1 hour 27 mins
  • Browsing Websites – 51 mins
  • Other – 29 mins
  • Video Chatting – 20 mins
  • E-reading – 15 mins
  • Content Creation – 14 mins

Additionally, 88 percent of parents report that their children between 0 and 11 years old are watching TV, 67 percent are using tablets, 60 percent are using smartphones, 44 percent are using a desktop/laptop, and 44 percent are gaming.

In light of this, what are the reasons to consider online tutoring for your child?

It’s One-to-One

Unlike remote learning, where there is one teacher for dozens of students, lecturing, assigning homework, and trying to keep students engaged, online tutoring is one tutor with one student, no distractions.

Content is Highly Personalized

The tutor is able to assess the student’s needs and tailor the subject, teaching method, and support to match that student’s needs.

Short, Variable-Length Sessions

Unlike remote learning, which required hours of sitting in front of a computer screen, online tutoring sessions are short and the time length is flexible, based on student age and attention-span and the difficulty of the subject matter.

Convenience Factor

Tutors and parents decide on a mutually convenient schedule. Families have a lot of activities going on, and the online format means you don’t have to drive somewhere. You choose the day/time that works best for your schedule, in the convenience of your own home.

Parents Have Total Visibility to Their Child’s Learning

Since sessions are online, parents can watch live or even record their child’s sessions, ensuring that they have complete visibility to what goes on in the tutoring session.

Parents Choose Their Child’s Tutor

In school, it’s the luck of the draw when it comes to which teachers your child spends the day with. With online tutoring, you review the available tutors and choose the one you think is the best match for your child. And you can always switch tutors if you find it’s not the best match after all.

How TutorUp Can Help

At TutorUp, all of our tutors are certified, classroom-experienced teachers. This means that they are not just subject matter experts in whichever subject your child needs help with. They are also trained educators who can assess a student’s needs and adapt their teaching approach to best help each student. They know how to evaluate the effectiveness of their tutoring and provide meaningful feedback to parents.

Contact us today so we can help your child succeed.

Speech Therapy or Tutoring?

Speech Therapy or Tutoring?

The answer is often “Both”

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) explains the importance of communication skills, “You need language skills to communicate. And you need to communicate to learn. Reading, writing, gesturing, listening, and speaking are all forms of language. The better your communication skills, the better you will do in school.”

If a child has difficulty with reading, writing, spelling or doing grade-level work, taking tests or understanding social cues, they may have a speech and language problem.

By the time a child enters school, it becomes obvious to parents and teachers if they are having problems with speech and language. Here are some common indicators for younger school-age children:

  • Has difficulty following directions
  • Has difficulty answering questions
  • Has difficulty staying on topic during conversations
  • Frequently misunderstands what is said to them
  • Has difficulty telling a story
  • Has a poor memory
  • Is difficult to understand
  • Doesn’t use the right sounds for words
  • Is the problem in one subject or across many subjects

First, Diagnose

Since public schools have Speech Language Pathologists, or SLPs who can conduct evaluations to help pinpoint a child’s problem, that is usually the first recommended step. The student’s problem may be due to hearing loss, or an attention deficit disorder. A dyslexic child can also display some of these symptoms. In order to provide the most helpful support, it’s important to identify the cause.

The Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA) specifies the necessary components of an evaluation:

  • A variety of assessment tools and strategies should be used to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information about the child;
  • No single measure or assessment should be used as the sole criterion for determining whether a child is a child with a disability and for determining an appropriate educational program for the child; and
  • Technically sound instruments should be used that may assess the relative contribution of cognitive and behavioral factors, in addition to physical or developmental factors.

SLPs play a central role in screening, assessment, diagnosis and treatment of childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and the development of literacy for children with dyslexia.

There are laws and regulations on the federal and state levels that impact the provision of services in the school setting, and the creation of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and 504 Plans.

How to Achieve the Best Outcome

Should it be determined that a child needs the support of a speech therapist, that help can often take place in the school setting. Of course, outside help is also available and certified Speech Language Pathologists whether in school or outside, have the training required to provide assessment, evaluation, testing, and treatment. SLPs coordinate with teachers and families to set goals, determine the best plan of treatment, and measure achievement.

Qualified tutors who are experienced and/or certified in working with students with learning disabilities can also provide great support and become a crucial part of the team contributing to student success. SLPs concentrate on the overall goals, treatment, and progress of a student with speech and language challenges. A tutor can provide subject-specific help and, working with the classroom curriculum, reinforce what is being taught in school. Often a child benefits from both types of support since speech therapy and tutoring are compatible and not mutually exclusive.

Tutors who are certified teachers are able to recognize when a child would benefit from an evaluation to see if speech therapy is indicated. And conversely, a speech therapist is able to see when a student needs subject-specific tutoring in order to stay on track in the classroom. The earlier intervention takes place, whether therapy or tutoring or both, the better the outcome for the student.

10 Trends in K-12 Education

10 Trends in K-12 Education

Surveys ask the educators

The results of two nationally representative surveys of educators were recently reported in the Education Week special report “Big Ideas 2022: 10 Broad Trends in K-12 Education”. In all, 1,897 educators responded to the first survey, and 1,099 educators participated in the second survey. We recap the survey results below.

You can download the full report here.

Questions about Equity and Equality

  • Educators were asked to define the word “equality” vs. the word “equity” in K-12 education. 78% responded that “equality is about giving all students the same opportunities; equity is about outcomes and giving some students, who have tended to have lower performance or higher needs, additional resources.” 13% of educators said that the “concepts are similar, but ‘equity’ has become controversial/weaponized.”
  • When asked what their views are of equity and equality in K-12 education are, 76% responded that they “support equity and equality, even though I define both in different ways.” 12% said they “support equality but not equity” and 4% said they “support equity but not equality.”
  • Responding to a question about their district policy on equality/equity, 52% said they “have formally committed to both equity and equality”, 15% said they “have formally committed to equity but not to equality”, 9% said they have “formally committed to equality but not to equity”, and 24% said their district has “not formally committed to either equity or equality.”

Questions about No Child Left Behind and Every Student Succeeds Acts

  • Inquiring about the federal No Child Left Behind and Every Student Succeeds Acts, 26% of educators surveyed felt that “there was nothing positive about these laws”. 23% felt that a positive outcome was that there is “additional Title I and other funding.” 21% felt that it was good that there is a “requirement to look at disaggregated data to see how student groups performed.” 15% felt that the “requirements to improve/intervene in schools or with student groups with low performance” was a positive outcome of these acts.
  • Nearly all educators surveyed (97%) felt that there was some type of negative effect from the NCLB and ESSA acts. 38% felt the most negative outcome was the mandated annual testing in reading and math, 29% felt the most negative outcome was the “consequences for schools or districts with low performance.”

Questions about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

  • When asked if the pandemic transformed public K-12 education, 94% of educators surveyed agreed that COVID-19 has had an impact. 52% said “Yes-it’s been a major transformation”, while 43% said “I’d describe it as more of a minor change than a transformation”, and 6% of educators didn’t feel that the pandemic had transformed public K-12 education at all.
  • Educators were asked to list all impacts of the coronavirus pandemic that they think will have a lasting positive impact on education a decade from now. The majority of educators, 61%, said that the “added flexibility of moving at least some meetings/gatherings online” would be the most lasting positive impact. 57% said that “more attention given to student mental health” would be one of the most lasting positive impacts, 54% felt that “better integration of technology” was a lasting positive, and 54% felt that the “ability to offer remote learning when necessary” was a lasting positive. Others included more and better technology, more attention given to staff mental health, improved cleaning protocols, better ventilation/HVAC systems, and several other factors would be a lasting positive.
  • When asked which pandemic impact they would MOST like to see in their district or school in ten years was, 21% said “more attention given to student mental health”, 20% said “less focus on standardized testing”, 11% said “more attention given to staff mental health”, 11% said they hoped that “more wraparound services for student well-being” would be a lasting impact, 16% hoped for more flexibility to be a permanent change, and 9% want to see more/better technology and integration of technology.

Questions about transformation and change in K-12 education

  • When asked for their opinion on what is the biggest obstacle preventing major transformations in K-12 education, 42% of educators said that local, state or federal officials or their policies are the biggest obstacles to change. 23% said that funding levels are the biggest obstacle. 19% responded that either parents, administrators, teachers, or students themselves were the biggest obstacle.
  • In response to the question about what they believe is the biggest enabler of change/transformation in K-12 education, 35% pointed to teachers as the most significant change agent. 13% think funding levels are the key to major change, and 10% think administrators have the largest impact.
Student Test Scores Dropping

Student Test Scores Dropping

ACT Reports Declining Scores That Are “particularly alarming”

On October 12, 2022, ACT reported that the national average composite score on the ACT for the high school class of 2022 was 19.8, the lowest average score in more than three decades. “This is the fifth consecutive year of declines in average scores, a worrisome trend that began long before the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, and has persisted,” said ACT CEO Janet Godwin. “The magnitude of the declines this year is particularly alarming, as we see rapidly growing numbers of seniors leaving high school without meeting the college-readiness benchmark in any of the subjects we measure.”

The ACT has identified readiness benchmarks for seniors which help determine which students will have a higher probability of success in credit-bearing first-year college courses. Their research shows that students who meet the benchmark have a 50% chance of earning a B or better and approximately a 75% chance of earning a C or better in their college course or courses.

What they found was that among the 2022 graduating class, only 22% of students met all four ACT benchmarks, while 42% of students met none of these benchmarks.

Number of Students Taking the ACT is Increasing

Since 2015, when only 27% of graduates took the ACT as part of a statewide or districtwide administration, the number of students taking the test has increased. For the 2022 graduating class, 60% of students took the test at least once.

NCES Assessment Results

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) conducted a special administration of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) long-term trend (LTT) test this year, which is often referred to as the Nation’s Report Card. They tested students age 9 in both reading and mathematics to examine student achievement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Average scores for students in 2022 declined by 5 points in reading and 7 points in mathematics as compared to 2020. The NAEP said “This is the largest average score decline in reading since 1990, and the first ever score decline in mathematics.” These lower scores in mathematics were demonstrated in students from city, suburban, town, and rural school districts and from students in the lower (25th percentile) and higher (75th percentile) performance groups. In reading, scores declined for most groups compared to 2020, with some exceptions.

Higher Performers Had Greater Access to Remote Resources

All students who took the LTT test were asked if they had attended school from home or somewhere else outside of school for any portion of the 2020-21 school year. Seventy percent indicated that they had done some remote learning. Among these students, the ones with higher scores tended to be the ones with greater access to a desktop computer, laptop, or tablet all the time; had a quiet place to work available some of the time; and had a teacher available to help them with mathematics or reading every day or almost every day.

Higher Performers Overall More Confident in Their Remote Learning Abilities

When asked if they could recognize when they don’t understand something they’re learning remotely, 67% of the higher performing students said they could. When asked if they could ask for help when they need it while learning remotely, 82% of the higher performing students said yes. And when asked if they could find learning resources online, 60% of the higher performing students said yes.

What Does All This Mean?

Regardless of the contributing factors that may result in students’ declining test scores, parents are concerned about the quality of their child’s education, and how to help them achieve their best results. Parents are exploring alternative options to the traditional public school education as well as looking for ways to help their students improve academic performance. Charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, online learning, and homeschooling are all experiencing increased levels of participation. Private tutoring has been shown to “yield consistent and substantial positive impacts on learning outcomes.”

The overall goal of education is to prepare students to be successful in life after school. Even students who are not planning to go on to college need to be equipped for success, whichever path they decide to follow. Helping your student perform better in school isn’t just so their grades can improve. It’s a way to make sure they get the most out of their education so they can move ahead with confidence.

For help with private online tutoring for your student, send us your contact info below, and we will show you how TutorUp can help.

What Makes an Effective Tutor?

What Makes an Effective Tutor?

How to Choose the Right Tutor

Parents have a lot of options when it comes to choosing a tutor for their child. When a child is struggling in school, chances are that they are also feeling anxious about it. It can be a hit to their self-confidence, their self-esteem, and can make them the target of bullying. And then the problem isn’t simply that they need help getting caught up to their peers in a certain subject; instead, it becomes a bigger problem.

This is exactly why choosing a tutor is more than just finding someone who is a subject matter expert and who knows more about what your child is struggling with than they do. It is equally as important for your tutor to understand the bigger picture and be able to relate to your child in a positive way that will help them gain confidence and learn skills that will stay with them.

The Top 4 Most Important Qualities of an Effective Tutor

  1. Knowledge: Must be a subject matter expert
  2. Skill: Must have experience teaching and tutoring
  3. Empathy: Must be able to see and work with a student as a whole person
  4. Flexibility: Must be able to personalize and adapt tutoring for each individual child’s needs

These are not the only qualities that define an effective tutor, but they are the must-haves. It’s also very important to be a good listener and to respect the concerns and fears the student may have. There is also a need to be able to maintain discipline without being an authoritarian. Kids are going to have times where they would rather goof off than have a tutoring session, and an effective tutor needs to know if they should steer them back to work or reschedule for another time.

Successful Tutoring is a Partnership

There are four partners in every successful tutoring relationship:

Student: It’s more difficult to make progress with a reluctant student than with a student who sees tutoring as being helpful and supportive. Fostering a positive attitude towards tutoring is key to its success.

Parents: Parents are busy. They may have jobs and other children and responsibilities, so the tendency is to find a tutor and leave it up to the tutor and student to work things out. Checking in with the tutor regularly is important to the child’s success. And helping the child prepare for and then review each tutoring session is a great way to stay involved and know what your child is learning.

Teachers: When classroom teachers are aware of and involved in their student’s tutoring, chances are it will be more effective. Teachers can provide the syllabus to the tutor, and communicate what they see as the student’s strengths and weaknesses. This helps the tutor know what to focus on.

Tutor: The best tutors know that communication is critical. Working with parents and with classroom teachers will help them to be more successful in their tutoring efforts. It’s also important for tutors to connect with other tutors and to stay on top of professional development opportunities.

Personal Preferences

Your child may respond better to a female tutor or a male tutor. Some children need a firmer hand while others need an empathetic, supportive tutor. If language differences are a factor, matching a student with a tutor who can speak their language and who sounds like them may be important. They key is to choose the tutor you think your child will be able to connect with and learn from most effectively. If, after a few sessions, you or your child don’t feel that connection is working, by all means switch to a different tutor.

TutorUp Tutors

In keeping with the Top 4 Most Important Qualities of an Effective Tutor, all TutorUp tutors are:

  • Certified teachers in the subject(s) they are tutoring
  • Experienced classroom teachers with tutoring experience
  • Skilled at working with students who are struggling and have all different levels of achievement
  • Able to work effectively face-to-face and one-on-one in the online tutoring environment, personalizing each session for that student

For help getting matched with the right tutor, fill out the form below, or give us a call at 877-TutorUp (877-888-6787)