What is High-Impact Tutoring?

What is High-Impact Tutoring?

How Frequent Tutoring Makes a Difference

Sometimes referred to as high-intensity tutoring, or high-dosage tutoring, high-impact tutoring is defined as one-on-one (or sometimes small group) tutoring at least three times a week for an extended period of time, like a semester or an entire school year.

A recent study published by Brown University, The Impressive Effects of Tutoring on PreK-12 Learning: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Experimental Evidence, evaluated the effectiveness of PreK-12 tutoring by looking at data from dozens of experiments and studies. The paper they published on their study can be found here, but these are some of their conclusions, “We find that tutoring programs yield consistent and substantial positive impacts on learning outcomes, with an overall pooled effect size estimate of 0.37 standard deviation. Effects are stronger, on average, for teacher and paraprofessional tutoring programs than for nonprofessional and parent tutoring. Effects also tend to be strongest among the earlier grades. While overall effects for reading and math interventions are similar, reading tutoring tends to yield higher effect sizes in earlier grades, while math tutoring tends to yield higher effect sizes in later grades. Tutoring programs conducted during school tend to have larger impacts than those conducted after school.” They clarified that the “after school” tutoring they refer to here is with parents and non-professionals, which is why it was considered to not have as large of an impact.

The Goal of Tutoring

The overall goal of tutoring is to provide the personalized support that each student needs. For some, this will be remedial help with subjects in which a child needs to get caught up with their peers. In other cases, tutoring can provide supplemental practice in subjects that help a student maintain progress. And for some students, tutoring can provide enrichment in subjects of interest that they cannot get in class at school. The best way to provide support in each of these models is by giving each student the one-on-one attention and instruction that they can’t get in a classroom scenario with dozens of other students vying for the teacher’s attention. And, as the studies have shown, professional highly-qualified tutors provide the best results.

Different Tutoring Formats

On-site tutoring is generally in small groups, at brick and mortar learning centers, often specializing in one subject area, like math. Students enroll in these sessions and usually follow a curriculum and lesson plans created by the vendor.

Online homework help is available from a number of resources, and is helpful for the student who has a quick question or two or is stuck on a specific issue that they need one-time help with. These services are often staffed by other students.

Self-paced online resources aren’t actually considered tutoring, but are available as enrichment and don’t usually include any contact with a tutor.

In-school tutoring is offered in many schools, and may be one-on-one or small groups, with sessions taking place during the school day, or before or after school.

In-person, one-on-one tutoring is often conducted in the student’s home, the tutor’s home, or in a public place like a library or coffee shop. This type of tutoring can include homework help, or specific remedial support in a given subject area.

Online, one-on-one tutoring is very much like the in-person version, but takes place over an internet video chat platform like Zoom or Google Meet. The online format makes scheduling much more convenient for both the tutor and the student and still provides the individual, personalized support and attention the student needs.

Key Elements of High-Impact Tutoring

According to the Texas Education Agency, high-impact tutoring needs to include these 6 key elements:

  • Well-trained, consistent tutor who builds a strong relationship with students. Research indicates that teachers, paraprofessionals, college students, and other types of tutors can all be effective when tutoring one-to-one or in small groups.
  • High-quality instructional material aligned to standards and core classwork, focusing on addressing missed concepts and skills
  • One-to-one or small group (three or four students) for individualized support
  • Embedded in the school day or just before or after, to maximize student access
  • At least three sessions per week, 30 minutes minimum
  • Data-driven with tutors building and delivering sessions around student strengths and needs

High-Impact Tutoring with TutorUp

All of our tutors are certified, experienced classroom teachers who build their tutoring sessions around the specific needs of each student. All of our sessions are online, one-on-one so the student gets the tutor’s undivided attention. Session length and frequency are completely flexible and can be customized for each tutor’s/student’s convenience. For more information, or to talk with a tutoring consultant, fill out the form below or call 877-TutorUp (877-888-6787).

American students’ test scores plunge to lowest levels in decades

American students’ test scores plunge to lowest levels in decades

Report shows the serious impact of the pandemic

The just-released report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has been making waves in mainstream media and across the nation. Based on test results of 9-year-old fourth graders that were given from January to March in 2020 and in 2022, the test scores were alarming. Math scores dropped seven points, which is the first ever decline, and reading scores dropped five points, which is the largest drop in 30 years.

“These results are sobering,” said Peggy G. Carr, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, which administers the tests. “It’s clear that covid-19 shocked American education and stunted the academic growth of this age group.”

As reported in The Washington Post by Donna St. George, this historic falloff “left little doubt about the pandemic’s toll. The average math score of 234 this year was comparable to the average score recorded in 1999, and the reading score of 215 was similar to the 2004 score. How long it might take to catch up is unclear and not likely to be understood until further test results are analyzed.”

According to other studies, there has also been an increase in classroom disruption, school violence, absenteeism, cyberbullying, teacher and staff vacancies, and an increase in students seeking mental health services.

“While we see declines at all performance levels, the growing gap between students at the top and those at the bottom is an important but overlooked trend,” said Martin West, a member of the governing board that sets policy for NAEP and academic dean at Harvard Graduate School of Education, in a statement. “These results show that this gap widened further during the pandemic.”

“Supporting the academic recovery of lower-performing students should be a top priority for educators and policymakers nationwide,” West said.

St. George reports that “seventy percent of the 9-year-olds tested this year recalled learning remotely at some point during the pandemic. More than 80 percent of higher-performing students reported always having access to a laptop, a desktop computer or a tablet. Among lower-performing students, about 60 percent had constant access.”

The NAEP testing is done at public and private schools chosen randomly from across the country. This year’s testing included 14,800 students from 410 schools. There are three 15-minute blocks of questions, mostly multiple-choice, plus a questionnaire.

Frequent, regular tutoring a proven strategy to help

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona stated that the NAEP results cast the experiences of the last two years in “a stark light” but should remind people to press ahead with efforts to accelerate student learning, support student mental health needs and invest in educators. States should steer federal relief funds “even more effectively and expeditiously” to proven strategies including “high-dosage” tutoring and after-school and summer programs, Cardona said.

NAEP tests are a congressionally authorized project, sponsored by the Department of Education and administered through its statistical arm, the NCES.

Read St. George’s full reporting on this at The Washington Post, here.

How You Can Help Your Child Improve in School

How You Can Help Your Child Improve in School

Get Organized, Do Better

No, this isn’t a pitch for hiring tutors. It’s not a list of recommended study aids. Or books, tapes, videos, or other programs you can buy that will help your child in school. One of the simplest ways you can give your child a boost that will help him or her in school as well as for the rest of their lives is to give them the gift of organization.

That’s it. You can do those other things as well, but they won’t work or be as effective if your child’s desk, backpack, bedroom, home, and life are a disorganized mess. Because chances are that if your child’s environment is chaotic, so is their brain.

Where to Start

Start small. Does your child’s backpack for school have pockets, dividers, pouches, etc. or is it just one big open bag they throw everything into? Get color-coded folders and pouches and other containers that fit inside the backpack to help them keep things sorted. Have one folder that is just for papers they’re supposed to bring home for you to see and/or sign. Have a folder for each subject so they can easily sort their work, whether it’s completed assignments or works in progress. Of course they need other supplies; pens, pencils, erasers, sharpener, highlighter, calculator, compass, ruler, etc. Whatever your student needs to carry from classroom to classroom or from school to home, help them get it organized and work with them to keep it that way.

If your child’s assignments, classroom work, notes from the teacher, etc. are online, then take a few minutes every day to go over those things together.

Most kids can effectively use a daily planner by 4th or 5th grade. And even though today everything is online, electronic, and virtual, teach your child how to write down assignments, due dates, reminders, etc. It’s actually handier than having to look it up, plus the act of writing things down helps sear it into memory.

Being Organized as a Lifestyle

There’s a certain amount of casual clutter or disorganization that just happens in the daily flow of life’s activities, and that’s understandable. But studies have shown that living amongst clutter is stressful, and can cause anxiety and impair the ability to concentrate. Once the backpack or bookbag is sorted, work with your child to get their closet, dresser, desk, bedroom, toys, sports equipment, and other belongings sorted and organized, and teach them how to keep up with it so it’s not a huge chore once a month, but a daily habit that only takes a few minutes. This will help contribute to their inner calm, which in turn helps them focus and concentrate.

Unbusy Their Schedule

Families are on the go. In addition to school for them and work for you, there’s meals, shopping, errands, sports, extracurricular activities, church or worship, social activities, pets to care for, and the list goes on. It’s up to you to take a step back and look at your own family’s dynamics and see if there are ways you can fit in blocks of down time for your child. If there is more than one adult in the family, can one of you do some of the errands while the other stays home, giving the kids a break from being on the go? Will meal prep once a week be a viable timesaver for you that can lessen the daily burden? Will prepared meal delivery services fit into the budget so meals are super easy?

Look for ways to clear some time every day that is unstructured and unscheduled. It will help your child and also help you.

Unplug the Electronics

Kids spend too much time online, plugged in, overstimulated. Apparently the average kid between 8 and 18 spends six to seven hours a day in front of a screen. For their sanity, safety, and success, put limits on screen time. Build a library of actual books, magazines, journals, comic books, travel guides, cookbooks, catalogs, hobby books, etc. And help them get up off the couch and do something active every day. Weather permitting, spending some time outdoors each day is ideal. Walk the dog, water the flowers, pick weeds, ride a bike, skateboard, go for a walk, but just find something to do that gets your child outside and moving.

These are all things that contribute to your child’s overall mental health, which in turn is going to help them get the most out of school. Making these activities part of their daily routine is going to help your child feel focused, confident and proactive. Turning these activities into habits helps set up your child for a lifetime of success.

What is School Choice?

What is School Choice?

What are the school choice trends in 2022-23?

In the United States since 2011, the last week of January each year has been designated School Choice Week to promote the concept of all the different forms of school choice. For this current school year, National School Choice Week will be January 22-28, 2023.

There are six main options for schooling in the United States: traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling. The National School Choice Week Team has published the trends for 2022-23, recapped here.

Traditional Public Schools and Open Enrollment

Available in all 50 states, traditional public schools are established by school districts. Open enrollment policies mean that parents can choose a public school that is outside of their own zone or district. Currently:

  • 13 states allow parents to choose any public school for their child, in any school district
  • 18 states allow open enrollment to parents that meet certain requirements, like living too far from the assigned school, or wishing to transfer out of a low-performing school.
  • An additional 19 states allow districts and schools to choose whether they will participate in open enrollment. So families must request and receive school district approval to take advantage of open enrollment in these states. Some states are lenient with their requirements while others rarely permit transfers.

Public Charter Schools

Charter schools are created by school districts, colleges, nonprofit organizations or other entities and are generally innovative schools within the public school system. 45 states and the District of Columbia allow public charter schools, and there are currently about 7,700 in the U.S. The number of students in charter schools has more than doubled in the last 10 years.

Magnet Schools

Magnet schools are also public schools operated by school districts, but they allow students to focus on a specific learning track, like STEM, medical science, or performing arts. There are more than 4,000 magnet schools across the US, and there are thousands of magnet programs within traditional public schools nationwide. All 50 states permit magnet schools, theme-based schools, or magnet programs, and 5 states have magnet programs but no freestanding magnet schools at this time.

Private Schools

Private schools are an educational choice in all 50 states and vary widely as to tuition and curriculum. Many private schools and nonprofit organizations offer scholarships to help students pay for tuition. In addition, 30 states offer official programs that provide scholarships or tuition assistance for families choosing private schools.

Online Learning and Course Access

Virtual academies instruct students 100% through online or digital curricula. In the 2019-20 school year, approximately 375,000 K-12 students attended a statewide online school full time in the United States. That number jumped to 656,000 for the 2020-21 school year. The numbers for 2021-22 aren’t in yet.

35 states offer full-time, tuition-free online public schools, established by state authorities, school districts, or charter schools. In many states, students can use online coursework to supplement their in-person schooling. Many states also offer this online course access to private school or homeschooled students.

Homeschooling

All 50 states allow parents to homeschool their children. Many families collaborate with others, using tutorials, cooperatives, and leagues. Enrollment in homeschool programs nearly doubled from 1999 to 2016. By 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic, more than 2 million children were homeschooled. As of 2022, that number has grown to about 3.7 million, and is growing in all race and income categories.

To view maps showing the details of these various school options for each state, please visit SchoolChoiceWeek.com.

Back to School 2022

Back to School 2022

The 2022/23 School Year Will Be Starting Soon

Once July 4th celebrations begin fading from our memories, the steady countdown to “back to school” begins. Sure, there’s still summer left to enjoy, but when stores begin stocking school supplies, and emails begin arriving encouraging school registration, it’s time to get prepared.

When Does School Start in Your District?

Depending on where you live, some kids may go back to school as early as the first week of August while others don’t start until the week after Labor Day in September. Chances are that you’re well aware of exactly when school starts in your local district, but if you’re not sure, a quick online search for your school district’s website will give you all the info you need about start dates, registration, school supply lists, and more.

If you’re not sure which school district you’re in, this handy tool or also this search tool will tell you. Just enter your address and you can see the name of your school district and the elementary, middle, and high schools in it. You can even search for charter and private schools. Once you identify your school district, it’s easy to find the website and phone number to get the details.

Getting in the Back to School Groove

You’ll want to squeeze every moment of summer fun into the remaining days of summer vacation, but it’s also a good idea to gently steer thoughts in the direction of starting back to school. Many students have done some type of summer school, summer learning programs, summer tutoring, or other learning-related activities over the break, and the transition back to full-time school might be less of a chore for them. But whether your kids have done any of that or not, encouraging a positive attitude about returning to school is important.

If your child has struggled in school, you may need to help them overcome negative feelings about school and about their own achievements and obstacles. Even kids who have few issues academically might have performance anxiety or socialization challenges that make them feel negatively about school. Being sensitive to these real hurdles, taking them seriously, and talking about them can help your child overcome the negativity.

As with many areas in life, if you’re a positive role model for your child, and show that you value education and you are supportive, it will help foster confidence and a positive attitude towards school. And while all of this is important, so is maintaining a balance between school and other activities. Be careful not to overwhelm your child with concerns about performance in school.

One way to help a child who struggles with school is to provide them with opportunities to excel at something. Sometimes this means giving them activities or tasks that are below their actual grade level, just to help them experience the joy in getting things right and mastering something.

Help Overcome the Summer Slide

It’s long been an established fact that students lose ground academically over the summer break, and starting back to school in the fall involves a lot of remedial work. This learning loss is most remarkable in math and English. Over the past couple of school years, families have also had to contend with Covid-related learning loss due to major disruptions in normal school attendance and functionality. This double-impact on learning has resulted in students who are further behind in these core subjects than ever before.

Providing kids with some fun activities that don’t feel like work or school yet still provide lots of learning opportunities can help mitigate learning loss. For help with math-related fun things to do, check out these resources. And for ways to incorporate fun reading activities that help kids keep up and improve, you’ll find great reading recommendations here.

Whenever the new 2022/23 school year starts for your student, it’s not too early to get ready for it now.

FUN Summer Math Exercises

FUN Summer Math Exercises

Fun ways to keep up with math over the summer

Even in “normal” years, kids of all ages lose ground over the summer, especially in math and reading. With the disruptions in school we’ve all experienced the past couple of years, this year the “summer slide” is even more pronounced than usual. But how is a parent supposed to get kids doing anything resembling homework over summer vacation? Worksheets just aren’t going to cut it.

Searching online for “fun math activities” highlights a lot of different resources for students of all ages. Here are a few of the best:

Bedtime Math

This site has daily activities that you can do with your kids that incorporate math and numbers in creative ways, engaging kids of various ages, like this one on the invention of the calculator. Check out their great daily math challenges.

Mathseeds

This site combines free and paid activities for kids that are presented as classroom aids for the teacher, but are easily adapted to at-home activities. Ideas include Math Bingo, making a paper plate clock, guessing the weight of different objects, hopscotch math, pizza fractions, and more.

ID Tech

For the older kids, ID Tech has fun math activities geared to middle and high school students. Did you know that Minecraft has an incredible math educator’s guide? Find out ways to apply math to Minecraft activities. There are ways to incorporate Fantasy Football, Math Jeopardy, subtraction dice and more.

NASA’s Math Series

Want some fun and challenging ways to engage your STEM students? NASA offers activities for algebra, geometry, and pre-calculus.

Beyond Sudoku

Of course you’re familiar with the number challenges in playing Sudoku, but have you heard of KenKen? These puzzles can be addictive!

Math Games and Activities for Kids on the Move

Not everyone learns well by sitting at a desk or staring at a computer screen. Kids need to be active and move and they can still be learning while working off some energy. We Are Teachers has a variety of activities you can offer to your squirmy kids who learn better when in motion.

Summer Math Tutoring

If your student could use some one-on-one math support from a certified, classroom-experienced teacher, we have math tutors for all grade levels. Private online sessions can be arranged to suit your summer schedule, and can help guarantee that your student is ready when school starts back up this fall.

What stressed teachers want from parents and kids

What stressed teachers want from parents and kids

by Erica Pandey, Business Reporter at Axios

reposted with the author’s permission

Teaching has become one of the most draining jobs in America. So we asked Axios Finish Line readers who are teachers how we can help them.

Why it matters: Teachers’ stress and burnout is on the rise, while wages remain stagnant. All of us can step up to aid those who educate the next generation of leaders.

Here’s what we learned from educators:

Gifts and acts of service make a difference.

  • “Pool resources and get your teacher a gift card to a local pool or yoga studio. Teachers are overworked and underpaid, and they’ve probably spent most of their discretionary income on their classroom anyway.” —Cari C., a teacher in San Francisco
  • “I think people can help teachers by donating cleaning supplies to their child’s teachers. … Kids like having a job at school. The students gain a sense of pride and are rewarded by being told, ‘Job well done!'” —Ashley N., a teacher in Orlando
  • “What teachers need is more and regular volunteers in the classrooms.” —Sheila C., a teacher in Durant, Mississippi
  • Coffee, coffee, coffee. Best gift ever. We cannot leave the building and have 20 minutes for lunch at best.” —Beth T., a teacher in Northern Virginia

If you’re a parent, be kind — and engage.

  • “Parents should always give the teacher the benefit of the doubt, rather than right away racing to the child’s side. When the child performs well, it reflects on their teacher, so no teacher wants anything else for the child.” —Keith S., a fifth-grade teacher in Old Greenwich, Connecticut
  • Please think before sending a request or complaint. The number of emails that teachers receive every day is breaking their backs.” —Jeananne F., a retired principal from Fort Myers, Florida
  • “Read to your child if they are young. If they are older, take them to the library with you and check out books. Talk about what you have read. Kids who see reading is important to the adults in their lives are far more likely to be engaged in school.” —Patty M., a high school science teacher in Hammond, Indiana

“Thank you” goes a long way.

  • “Just saying thanks is unusual but provides such a mental energy boost for us when we are exhausted down to our souls!” —Robin G., a high school English teacher in Springdale, Arkansas
  • Copy administrators on your “thank you” emails to teachers, says Joan K., a retired Connecticut teacher.

The bottom line: “Teachers perform an indispensable public service and work extremely hard doing it. But our society acts as if teaching is unskilled labor that anyone can do and chooses to compensate that labor accordingly,” says Sabrina U., a former K-12 teacher from Decatur, Georgia.

  • Appreciate and support the teachers in your life.
Summer Reading for Kids

Summer Reading for Kids

How to encourage your kids to read this summer

It’s summer and the last thing your kids want is an assignment. You know they should do some reading over the break in order to help mitigate the “summer slide” that happens to most kids. But if you make reading a chore, you risk turning your kids off.

Schools have summer reading programs. Libraries have summer reading programs. Parent groups have recommendations and lists of books that appeal to parents. And there are goals and rewards and milestones. And all of this feels like work.

Ditch the program

One of the best ways to encourage your kids to read is for you to be a reader. Seriously. They learn by example. And younger children usually love being read to. But just seeing that reading is important to you helps make it a natural activity.

If you have more than one child, having them read to each other can also be fun, or have an older child read aloud to younger kids who can’t yet read themselves.

Don’t force or cajole or bribe your kids to read. Just make reading materials of all types readily available to them. This includes:

  • magazines
  • newspapers
  • graphic novels
  • audio books
  • blog posts
  • travel brochures
  • how-to-books
  • cookbooks
  • recipes
  • catalogs
  • word puzzles
  • encyclopedias
  • poetry
  • fiction
  • fantasy
  • hobby books (like coin collecting, gardening, insects, music, art, vintage record albums…)

Resist the temptation to consult an “approved” reading list this summer and let your child’s own interests and hobbies guide them (and you) to reading about what they’re interested in, regardless of the medium. Your local librarian will be super helpful in directing you to reading materials on every topic.

Reading and writing are connected

Encouraging writing helps boost your child’s reading skills. You can help your child make a journal, or buy a ready-made one that they pick out, if they seem interested. Have them make a list of things they see or do over the summer so they have a ready made essay for back-to-school. This could easily turn into a scrapbook project. Help them pick a pen pal to write letters to. Have them write down recipes they like, creating their own collection or “cookbook”. Any type of writing activity is valuable and will improve their reading ability.

If your child has reading difficulties

Children who struggle to read are not going to enjoy reading. For some kids, making lower level, easier reading materials available can help. But if you suspect that your child is having a more serious problem with reading, summer is a good time to look into it. If the problem is something physical or cognitive, the earlier you get it diagnosed, the better. If it’s just that your child may be slower to catch on and develop reading skills, taking the pressure off and making it as fun and stress-free as possible will help.

Bottom line: remove the “work” aspect from summer reading and make a variety of materials available to your kids. Encourage reading without pressure and have a great summer!

Is Summer School in Your Plans?

Is Summer School in Your Plans?

The 2022 Summer School Picture

Millions of students enroll in summer school each year for a variety of reasons. Some students retake courses needed for graduation, some take courses for academic acceleration and enrichment, and some take career prep or college prep courses. In addition to K-12 programs, high school and middle school students can take advantage of summer programs offered by more than 97% of top universities.

In 2019, there were about 3.3 million students enrolled in summer school in the U.S., and in 2020, the latest year figures were available, that number increased to 3.4 million. According to a report on summer school by ThinkImpact, continued attendance in summer school could result in up to 25% improvement in mathematics, and up to 23% improvement in language capabilities. And 2022 should see growth as well “As there is an increased focus and significance placed on education, summer school has enjoyed a resurgence.”

The Effect of Summer School

As ThinkImpact reports, “Research has shown that students at every stage can benefit from summer school” and enrolling students in a grade level lower than the grade they just completed seems to have a marked positive impact.

The positive impact of summer school persists, even after the following school year. Students are generally showing an advantage of one grade level in post-tests over their peers, and even “one year later, there was a 13% benefit for students” in the subject they took in summer school.

Summer school during the pandemic, including online summer school, helped prevent loss of 50% of math gains and 30% of reading gains.

Blending Vacation with Learning

For most students, summer means fun and freedom and no more studying or homework. Parents need to keep that in mind, and weigh the benefits of summer learning with the benefits of having time off. Since most summer school programs are short duration, and typically don’t require daily attendance or long hours, it’s relatively easy to combine summer fun with summer learning.

The “summer slide” is a known phenomenon that impacts students primarily in math and reading. Typically, students lose an average of two months of reading skills and 2.6 months of math skills over the summer. Once they return to school in the fall, it can take weeks if not months to relearn and get caught back up to where they were at the beginning of summer.

This is one reason many parents choose to incorporate some kind of summer learning for their kids.

Summer Tutoring Online

If you’re planning to enroll your student in a summer learning program, you may find that a little one-on-one personalized tutoring support will help boost that learning. Or if your student just needs a couple of hours a week of tutoring without the need to enroll in a formal summer program, TutorUp has solutions for your needs. All of our tutors are certified, classroom-experienced teachers and as such, they have more availability over the summer than during the school year. We can match your student with the perfect tutor to help them sail through a summer school program, or just help them avoid the annual summer slump. Click here to let us know what you’re looking for.

The Latest On SAT and ACT Test Requirements

The Latest On SAT and ACT Test Requirements

Are the SAT and ACT assessment tests still optional?

One of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown has been that, in many cases, college assessment testing was suspended, and even when it has been available, most schools have made the tests optional. As pandemic fears have eased, some colleges and universities have reinstated the requirement as part of their admissions process. Many other schools are still treating the tests as optional, at least for the 2022/23 school year.

This mixed message can be confusing, and as a result, many educators are recommending that students take the SAT and/or ACT anyway.

Why take the SAT or ACT?

  • Some colleges and universities are again requiring it, with MIT being among the first to announce
  • Many scholarship programs require that students take either the SAT or ACT
  • A high score on a college entrance exam can still be an asset, even if optional, as schools do consider a student’s scores when making admissions decisions
  • Students planning to study abroad are often required to submit SAT or ACT scores
  • International students applying to U.S. colleges and universities are often required to submit SAT or ACT scores in order to qualify for scholarships
  • Some states require that public school students take either test in order to graduate
  • Many states also require homeschoolers to take nationally standardized tests in order to satisfy state testing requirements

What is the point of the SAT or ACT?

Basically, these tests help determine what you have learned, and whether you are ready for college. While some students don’t do well on standardized tests, and may find these intimidating, having a good score on one or both gives schools more information about a prospective student to help them make admissions decisions. So any competitive advantage an applicant can demonstrate is a bonus. Don’t let the “optional” status of these tests lull you into thinking you don’t need to take them.

What is the difference between the SAT and ACT?

Both exams are nationally recognized, but the SAT is seen as more of an evaluation of a student’s aptitude, and the ACT is considered more of a placement test or an indicator of academic achievement. Both tests have Math, Reading, and Writing sections and the ACT also has a Science section. The SAT has both a calculator and a no-calculator math section.

The SAT is made up of 154 questions and is scored between 400 and 1600. It requires more writing and problem solving, and gives the student more time to complete.

The ACT has 215 questions and is scored from 1 to 36. The questions are more straightforward and require less time to answer.

Students can take the ACT up to 12 times in order to get the highest score possible, and there is no limit on how many times a student may take the SAT. Each test is offered on 7 different dates throughout the year.

Preparing for the SAT and ACT

Practice tests are available online, and there are a multitude of services, some offered by local schools, to coach students and help them prepare for taking these tests. Most of these are paid services, and can cost upwards of $1,500, however it is possible to find some test prep offered for free, and many priced somewhere inbetween. Some courses are group classes, either in person or online, while others are one-on-one. The cost to take the tests themselves depends on whether you add the writing part of the test. The full ACT with writing costs $88 while the basic SAT costs $47 with additional subject tests costing $10 to $21 more.

One-on-one Online SAT and ACT Test Prep This Summer

Summer is the perfect opportunity for students to get ready for these exams, and TutorUp has experienced tutors who are certified teachers, skilled in preparing students for the SAT and ACT. If personalized, one-on-one test prep for the SAT or ACT is what you’re looking for, we have teacher/tutors who can help. Simply fill out the contact form on the right, or give us a call at 877-888-6787.

Summer Learning Loss – the Summer Slide

Summer Learning Loss – the Summer Slide

Is Summer Learning Loss Real?

A research study in the American Educational Research Journal found that “the average student loses 17-34% of the prior year’s learning gains during summer break, as well as that students who lose ground in one summer are more likely to also lose ground in subsequent summers.” They also found that there was more substantial loss in math and reading. Read more about summer learning loss here from the Institute of Multi-Sensory Education.

How to Address Summer Learning Loss

  • Summer learning programs can be effective in helping prevent summer learning loss and closing achievement gaps.
  • Having access to books and encouraging summer reading is important in helping students gain in reading achievement, comprehension, writing style, vocabulary, spelling, and grammar.
  • Journaling over the summer is a great way to not only capture memories, but also provide writing practice for students. Encouraging kids to write in their journal daily keeps their literacy skills fresh.
  • Another way to keep writing skills fresh is to encourage letter writing with a pen pal or distant relative.
  • For more targeted academic support, summer tutoring is very effective in helping students keep current and improve math and reading skills.

Summer Tutoring with TutorUp

All of our tutors are certified teachers and have a lot of flexibility in their summer schedules. If you’re interested in providing some weekly academic support for your student this summer, we have lots of options for you.

What’s Your Child’s Reading Level?

What’s Your Child’s Reading Level?

How You Can Help Your Child Become a Better Reader

There’s a lot of discussion about how kids have fallen behind in reading and need some help to get caught up. But how do you know which level your child is at? And how can you help match them to the right books at the right time to help them level up?

You can start with a conversation with your child’s teacher, who should be able to share your child’s reading level with you. Scholastic Books has put together a great list of books that are appropriate for different guided reading levels from Pre-K through Grade 3 and up. Some educators recommend choosing at-home books a level or two below the one your child reads at in school.

The Different Reading Level Ranges

Scholastic Books has their own Guided Reading Program Levels, and they also have Guided Reading Lexile Ranges. There are also the Common Core State Standards Lexile Ranges (CCSS), and the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) levels. You can read more about the Lexile Framework for Reading here. The Lexile reader measure can range from below 200L for beginning readers to above 1600L for advanced readers.

The Five Finger Test

To choose books for your child that are the right level, you can have your child do the quick and easy Five Finger Test. Select a book your child wants to read, flip to a page in the middle of the book and ask your child to read the page out loud. Have your child hold up a finger for each word he is not sure of or does not know. If there are five or more words on that page, you should choose an easier book. You can use the five finger rule on two or more pages, just to make sure.

For help choosing books at your child’s reading level, Understood.org has a four step online guide for parents.

Online Reading Tests

There are a variety of online resources that offer reading assessment tests. These can be helpful in indicating a child’s reading level so parents can select appropriate books.

You Can Help

The important thing to keep in mind is that you can create a positive environment for your child that will help make reading fun and rewarding. While it’s helpful for you and your child’s teachers to know what your child’s reading level is, you should avoid using labels like “slow” reader or “reads below grade level”. You can be encouraging without communicating disappointment or concern that could make your child worry. Not every child is going to turn into an avid adult reader, but you can help make sure that your child has the reading capability they will need to be successful.

Reading Resources for Parents

Reading Resources for Parents

“Reading is the gateway skill that makes all other learning possible.”
— Barack Obama

Parents can have a significant impact on their children’s attitude about reading as well as their reading ability. Whether your student is an avid reader, excelling at or above their grade level, or your student is struggling with reading, there are lots of resources available to enrich their reading experience and improve their reading comprehension.

Reading is Fundamental

The RIF website is a goldmine of resources for teachers and parents with children of all ages. From grade-matched book recommendations and corresponding support materials, to Learn at Home resources, word games, puzzle creator and much more, there are helpful tools for all ages.

Reading Rockets

This is another feature-rich website for parents and teachers who want to improve the reading achievement of children. Reading Rockets has reading guides, videos, blogs, fun activities and more. You’ll find topics, booklists and authors, and recommendations for parents.

Literacy expert Timothy Shanahan has put together a list of 11 ways parents can help their children read. It’s a quick read and all of the tips are basic enough to help even the youngest of students. Bottom line, don’t leave the work to teachers and schools. Parents have a huge influence on their children’s attitude and ability to read and spending some time reading (and writing) with your child can make a big difference.

Scholastic Parents

Scholastic books offers a newsletter just for parents, book lists by age and category, reading resources, printables and activities, homework help and more.

Playing an active role in your child’s literary development is the best way to help them.

U.S. Department of Education

Ed.gov has a section with resources for parents who want to help their child read. You’ll find tips, guides, publications and more that are geared to parents.

National Center on Improving Literacy

Improving Literacy has resources for parents with proven methods to help their children with reading and writing. There are videos, resources, articles, experts who answer questions, and more.

For Students with ADHD or Dyslexia

Ways to Lift Up Lagging Readers offers ways to make reading less work and more fun for readers with difficulties like ADHD and dyslexia.

“Children Are Severely Behind in Reading” from the NY Times

“Children Are Severely Behind in Reading” from the NY Times

The Pandemic Has Worsened the Reading Crisis in Schools

Dana Goldstein of the New York Times reported this week on the alarming “reading emergency” caused by the Covid pandemic and its severe impact on education in the United States.

Multiple studies are reporting that reading skills of younger students were at a 20-year low at the beginning of this school year. “Children in every demographic group have been affected, but Black and Hispanic children, as well as those from low-income families, those with disabilities and those who are not fluent in English have fallen the furthest behind.”

While it’s true that national tests have shown a stagnant or declining performance in reading for U.S. students since 2019, there is no denying that the pandemic has made all of this worse. Children spent months out of the classroom, and when they did return, they found less help than before the pandemic. A federal survey has shown that nearly half of all public schools have teaching vacancies, especially in special education and elementary grades.

Schools are now under pressure to boost literacy quickly to try to make up for the ground that has been lost. Billions in stimulus funds are going to schools for tutoring and other academic supports, but schools are still having trouble hiring quality staff.

Early on in the pandemic, research suggested that reading skills were holding steady while there was more concern about learning loss in math. Today the research is showing the opposite. Among the youngest students, many of whom spent their entire kindergarten year outside of school, the basics of reading have been lost.

As a result, some states like Mississippi, Alabama, and Massachusetts have begun retraining teachers in phonics. Individual and small-group tutoring is being funded by federal grants, however many educators are leaving the classroom for the more lucrative private reading and speech therapy industry. So even with the budget, schools are finding it difficult to hire experienced educators.

A new Stanford study finds that “reading fluency among second and third graders in the U.S. is roughly 30 percent behind what would be expected in a typical year.” While students are beginning to recoup the losses suffered when schools closed in 2020, it hasn’t been enough to make up for the gaps.

Many states paused academic assessment testing during the pandemic, so definitive numbers aren’t readily available but the evidence is compelling. Children who struggle with reading will be facing lifelong hurdles. What this means is that the critical time to address the problem is now, before more learning is lost.

reading statistics
Courtesty of Reading is Fundamental, Literacy Network

Private tutoring can bridge the gap

When struggling students are paired with experienced, trained, certified educators in a one-on-one private tutoring arrangement, reading improvement can be dramatic. Due to the shortage of experienced teachers in the schools, and the fact that teachers in the classroom have to divide their attention among dozens of students, the concentrated attention that students need in order to catch up is best achieved with quality tutoring.

Study Tips for Kids (and Parents)

Study Tips for Kids (and Parents)

Help Your Student Establish Good Study Habits

The best way to help your student study is to share some tips, help them get started on implementing them, and then let them take it from there. Resist the inclination to step in and handle it every day when they come home from school with assignments or they need to study for a test. In the long run, the more you take over and direct, the less your student will actually learn how to study and get organized.

Setting Up for Success

Regardless of age, here are some basics that will help any student with studying and completing homework assignments.

  • Don’t try to jump right in to homework after school. Allow for a break and a snack first.
  • Designate a specific place as the study/homework station. And make sure it’s not on their bed, or in the same room as a TV that is on, or where people gather to socialize.
  • Institute a “no social media” policy during study time. Your student may need their phone, tablet, or computer to do their homework, so the temptation to check on social media will be harder to control, but it’s a huge time-waster and breaks concentration.
  • Take breaks. Your student can set specific break times (like every 30 minutes or once an hour) or just take a break at a natural stopping point, but using a timer will help keep the break short. 5-10 minutes is long enough. Longer than that could make your student lose their place and forget what they were working on.
  • Encourage some physical activity during break times, even if it’s just standing up and stretching.

Organizational Skills

Starting at about fourth or fifth grade, your student should have a day planner or assignment notebook they write in and keep track of every assignment, the date assigned, the due date, instructions and notes. Younger students may have handouts from the teacher with daily assignments or worksheets and don’t need the additional structure of keeping a calendar.

Train children at a young age to be sure to put all of their school papers, assignments, notes, worksheets, etc. in their backpack every day to bring home from school. Help them review and sort through these papers every day before starting homework. Don’t let the backpack become the Bermuda Triangle.

For schools that send homework, notices, schedules, etc. via email or posted online, be sure to check that right after school so you’re not surprised the next morning when your student says “I was supposed to do…” or “I’m supposed to bring…”

It might help (especially for older students) to have separate folders in different colors for each subject. And for note-taking, a matching spiral notebook for each subject. So if Math is blue, it’s easy to grab the blue folder and the blue spiral notebook to find all the info needed to complete assignments.

Another method of organizing would be a three-ring binder with pocket tabs for each subject, keeping everything in one notebook, organized by subject. This can get pretty big though, so your student might prefer the colored folder/notebook method.

Make sure that your student has all the necessary supplies in their backpack every day. Depending on age, pencils, pens, eraser, crayons, markers, highlighters, glue sticks, scissors, notebook, paper, index cards, calculator, tissues, wet wipes, hand sanitizer… you get the idea.

Study Tips

Success with homework and studying begins in school. It’s important that students learn early to pay attention, ask questions when they don’t understand something, take good notes, keep track of assignments and important dates, minimize distractions in class (like keeping their phones in their backpacks), and just take school seriously in general. This includes consistent attendance.

Goal setting –

Whether it’s a certain grade a student wants to achieve, or just mastering a single concept, it helps to have a goal to work toward. Maybe your third grader needs to memorize multiplication tables. Measure how long it takes to get one down, and then set goals accordingly. Breaking big goals into smaller, more easily achieved goals helps your student see how they are progressing.

Note taking –

It’s not possible (or recommended) to try to write down everything a teacher is saying. One way to help students learn how to jot down the important points, so they can review them later, is to have them watch a short video of someone lecturing on an interesting topic or explaining something or giving instructions. You watch the video with them and have them pick out the important things they might want to write down, while you take your own notes. Then you can compare notes and see if your student is on the right track. The best way to learn how to take good notes is to practice taking notes.

Demonstrating mastery –

A great way to help a student commit something to memory, and demonstrate that they have mastered a specific topic, or concept, is to have them teach/explain it to someone else. That could be you, or a sibling, or a classmate.

Study partner/study group –

Studying with a peer, or a group of peers, can be very useful as long as everyone takes it seriously. Of course, fun should also be had, but keep goals in mind when students work together. One way to help influence this is to host the studying at your house.

It’s okay to try different things to see what resonates with your student. And if you have more than one child you’re trying to help, keep in mind that everyone is different, and what works well for one child might not be helpful for another. Listen to your child and take their input into consideration when trying to help. Good study habits for students can last a lifetime, and translate into good work habits and help create responsible adults.