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Doing the Math on Tutor Value

  Wednesday, July 21, 2021 by Brian Tingleff | General Tutoring

When a child becomes frustrated with their homework, or the pace of instruction in school, the result can be added stress at home for parents and children alike.  When that frustration occurs with high school coursework, the situation shouldn’t be overlooked.  Help from a classroom teacher before or after school may be one option to resolving a short-term stumbling block, but tutoring by an independent role model might be an important choice to consider.  But is it worth the money?

Unless you’re a parent with a degree in education, or possess a particular skill set in areas where your student struggles, it’s probably time to turn to a tutor.  Tutoring can be a very effective way to reduce your student’s frustration and stress.  Less frustration means an easier path to higher grades and educational success.    Achieving success with high school coursework is very important for the college-bound student.  

For example, establishing and maintaining a strong grade point average can mean the difference between attending a school that matches the interests of your student, or a less selective higher educational institution.   This can result in your student obtaining an education that matches his or her future career goals.  We find that many parents choose tutors for their student based on this point alone.  

Tutors are also independent, content experts who can often help to unlock the mystery in a specific subject area.  They enjoy the subject and can bring a special excitement to the content that parents simply don’t possess.  This excitement has an ability to “rub off” on frustrated students who may have begun to harbor negative feelings about the subject or doubt their ability to ever master the content.   Tutors have already mastered this content, are personally vested in helping students to succeed, and are eager to bring your student along!

An exceptional tutor is one who learns how to interpret the barriers faced by your student, and who has the time to find ways to nurture their understanding.  Classroom teachers face unique challenges that don’t always afford them the opportunity to work one-on-one with students, especially when new content is first introduced.  That’s why an important step in tutoring often includes establishing communication with the student’s classroom teacher to understand the content calendar and maintain a connection, while reinforcing classroom instruction with extra examples and ideas that bring another perspective to the academic content.   That added perspective may be just the thing that eliminates the stumbling block and ends the frustration.   As a parent, that’s money well spent.   For a classroom teacher, that’s a student who starts to “get it” and grows more relaxed in the classroom.

For some families, tutoring may be a short-term need until the “light turns on” in a particular subject.  For others, tutoring may be a longer-term solution to academic success.  Either way, the short-term financial expense and time commitment for tutoring may reduce or eliminate a poor academic grade or a lifetime of loathing of a subject.   For a college-bound high school student, it may mean readiness for more advanced coursework later in high school, achieving or maintaining a higher grade point average, more beneficial higher education options, and perhaps most importantly, access to merit and competitive scholarships to make college affordable.

If you wish to learn more about how our tutors can reduce your student’s stress and frustration, please reach out to us at collegetutorsia.com.  We assist Des Moines area families with tutoring and we would be happy to do the same for you!

Why repeat the ACT Test?

Wednesday, August 4, 2021 by Brian Tingleff | Test Preparation

The ACT Test is designed to be a predictor of college academic readiness. So why do so many students take the test more than once? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of a test, when you take it over?

When taking the ACT Test, you’re “testing” your student’s readiness based on a single point in time. There are a lot of factors that can influence student results on test day, including:

  • what academic content your school has covered in any given subject by test day
  • their health that day
  • did they get enough sleep the night before
  • what they ate for breakfast before the test, and more

According to ACT, in 2015 45% of students had taken the test more than once, and by 2017 more than 2 million students took the ACT. That’s a lot of students returning for a better score.

Retaking the test can result in a higher score that can translate into meeting part of the admissions requirement for a specific college or university or expand the pool of institutions to consider. Better still, it may make your son or daughter eligible for additional financial aid or allow them to complete for special academic scholarships.

According to ACT research, “57% of students who took the test more than once increased their ACT Composite score.”

If you take your initial ACT test in the fall of your junior year, you are automatically underestimating your academic abilities. The ACT is designed to reflect your academic preparation for the entire junior year. To only include a portion of the first semester is not a true reflection of your student’s ability. But it may be a useful baseline to help better predict areas for further preparation.

It is not uncommon for students to excel in either the math and science subtests, or possibly the English and reading subtests. Treating the first attempt as a baseline test may help to validate existing strengths. The results from that first exam can be a “road map” to preparing for a second test a few months later.

Often the struggle with scheduling the ACT test revolves around other activities planned for the junior year, such as sports seasons, extracurricular events and travel plans. When the spring is just too busy to find an open ACT testing date, then the choice is often pushed backwards into the fall of junior year. Now that ACT has committed to a July testing date, those with spring conflicts can delay a second testing to the summer, before their senior year begins.

The added benefit of the June and July test dates is that the full junior year of knowledge has been completed. This assures the best chance to achieve an important score along the way to achieving your student’s college plans.

If you live in the Des Moines area and would like to explore taking a free ACT practice test with us to establish a baseline score, please reach out to us at: collegetutorsia.com.

The first step in tutoring – What’s your goal?

Wednesday, July 28, 2021 by Brian Tingleff | General Tutoring

It’s not uncommon for the news of failing grades to come as a surprise during a parent-teacher conference. Some students do a better job than others at hiding their struggles in the classroom. For students whose grades are written on their face and carried through their actions and moods, the sign of poor academic performance manifests itself physically, mentally and emotionally.

Part of the solution to failing grades can be resolved with the help of a tutor. But the first step in making tutoring work is to understand your goal.

Unless the pattern of academic struggle is recognized based on recent history, and tutoring is part of the plan at the start of a new semester, then tutoring - and the tutor - are playing catch up. If academic struggles have already resulted in missed assignments, poor quiz results or even a failed test, then setting realistic goals is very important. And the setting of these goals really needs to include the student. If the student isn’t included in goal setting, then they may consider themselves off the hook if things don’t start improving.

Even the greatest tutor can’t wipe the slate clean from earlier poor performance. So, what to do if the track record isn’t going in the right direction? A key option is getting some quality tutoring. A quality tutor not only needs to understand the academic subject matter, but needs to re-build a student’s confidence by being a positive role model. A quality tutor also wants to understand the goals for the rest of the semester.

The goals should be two-fold: build the self-esteem around the subject matter, and with that in mind, work to increase understanding of the academic content. A ”backpack tutor” is ready to help with tonight’s homework, rather than proposing testing before getting started. But more than likely, tonight’s homework is built on last week’s homework, so spending some time reviewing where the student started to get lost is important in re-building self-esteem and to the overall success of the program.

A tutor’s job isn’t to downplay what happens in the classroom, or find fault, but to remain positive and optimistic. Language coming from a tutor asking if the student turned in last week’s homework on time, might sound very similar to the same question from a parent on that subject. But as a neutral partner working on the common goal of earning all the academic points possible, it’s appropriate to meeting the agreed upon goal. Thus parents and tutor are on the same page, and the student begins to understand why it all matters.

Role model tutors praise students not only for getting the answer right, but also expressing when they can’t figure it out at all. Great tutors also have an ability to find alternate ways to explain things. An alternate method to solve a word problem, or a practical example to demonstrate a point, might be the way to make meaningful academic progress.

If failing grades are causing your family stress this semester, maybe you need to make a plan that includes some role model tutoring.

If you live in the Des Moines area and would like to discuss how we can help your student turn the corner in the classroom, please reach out to us. We’ve got a role model tutor available to help at: collegetutorsia.com