Diagnostic Testing before Tutoring

Diagnostic testing before tutoring students is important. Testing allows the tutor to view the test results and tutor the student in the shortest amount of time possible. The tutor knows first-hand any weak or strong areas of the student and does not have to waste time trying to determine what a student knows and does not know.  Initial diagnostic testing saves the student both time and money and gets the best results possible for the student.

It is difficult to help a student achieve positive results in one or two tutoring sessions. When students start tutoring and notice improvement and then stops attending the tutoring the sessions, it results in the students not completing the sessions to fill the academic gap.  The academic gap, although shortened within  the short tutoring time, still exists and grows larger again during the school year. In addition, last minute tutoring cram sessions for final exams and test prep do not work.  Last minute tutoring puts stress on both the student and the tutor.  When students come the night before a test, or just weeks before SAT or ACT, there is usually not enough time to cover the material and practice to make sure that the student has mastered the material and is comfortable with the curriculum.  Waiting until the last minute leads students to procrastination.  Research shows that students who procrastinate do not do well in college.  See article.

Tutoring works best when students and parents are committed to improving academic levels and agree to a planned scheduled of academic lessons at the beginning of the school year, preferably, starting during the summer before the upcoming school year. Improving gaps in learning and working ahead of the class curriculum reduces stress and anxiety for the student and gives the student confidence in his or her academic abilities.  When students are on a consistent tutor/study schedule, they learn how to plan, practice and study ahead.  This breaks the cycle of procrastination.  In addition, the student gains an academic foundation for success on college admissions exams and will do well in college.   A current research study states that only a third of high school seniors are equipped for college-level math and reading.  See article. When students do not have a proper academic foundation, they will struggle in future courses and on tests.

SAT/ACT/PSAT test prep also works best when students begin as early the 9th grade year to prepare for these exams.  Students are competing on a national playing field and must begin preparing as soon as possible.  Although a student is making A’s and B’s in his or her school, this is no guarantee that the student will do well on the SAT or ACT without test prep.  School work is simply not enough for a student to do well on the test.  Many students have not had English Grammar since elementary school and lack the knowledge of the grammar rules needed for the English/Writing and Reading portions of the SAT/ACT and PSAT.  Many students are also weak in math.  A consistent math review helps students to learn the math needed to do well on the exams.  Test prep also helps students to know the format of the test first-hand and know what to expect when they take the test.  It is never a good idea to allow a student to take the SAT or ACT to merely see how he or she will do.  Students should know what is on the test and know what to expect on test day to significantly increase their chances of obtaining a high score.

Study and preparation along with time and effort is the key to academic success!

When a Student Needs Academic Support

There’s one easy pin-point moment when a parent knows without hesitation that a child needs help with their school work. That’s when the parent receives a phone call from the student’s teacher explaining that the student is struggling with the topic, is falling behind with school work, and may be making grades below a “C.” As a parent, you may feel relieved to hear that the teacher is in touch with your child’s progress and that you were promptly alerted to the difficulties as they appeared. Some parents even feel a little guilty for not realizing the problem themselves. Parents may even wonder to themselves, “What are the warning signs that my child is falling behind in school? How can I better prepare my child for success?”

Parents can identify when a child is struggling in school when that child comes home and has a strong aversion to completing homework. When a parent has to play “homework police” that may be the first warning sign that the child is struggling with a concept. Students may try to avoid a specific type of school work because they feel bad that it is a subject that they struggle with. Essentially, a student’s self-esteem drops when they come across a topic that they cannot master without the help of an adult. Students can become vehemently against completing assignments that make them feel inferior. They may disobey parents in order to avoid doing homework that they need extra help with.

These anxieties should be eased by reinforcing the concepts that the student needs help with. Parents could do this by asking for some direction from the student’s teachers and then helping the student with the concepts. Parents should try to become familiar with his or the child’s personal areas of strength or weakness. Reviewing the child’s test scores and seeing how they are doing with their work firsthand is the best first step to help a student to succeed in school. Every child’s learning style is different, and a parent could spend some time getting to know how their child learns in order to evaluate his or her needs.

Asking a tutor for additional help is also a great way to bolster a student’s skills in their most needed area of learning. Tutors have experience with evaluating where the student’s learning level is and how to best support continual growth in a student’s skills.

Thanks for reading! Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions. Email me at rachelsstuart@gmail.com.

Blog Post by Rachel S. Stuart a Tutor and Featured Blogger for Academic Advantage Tutoring

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About Rachel

I have always been a proud “nerd.” When I could, I always helped my friends with their homework because I just loved to teach them how to think about the world differently. In particular, history and writing have always been my specialties. When I was a little girl, my aspiration was to one day be a history professor! I hope to begin Master’s classes in the field of education and continue to be fascinated by changing technology in the classroom and different ways of engaging my students’ creativity!
Honors and awards: Phi Beta Kappa, Highest Honors in History Honors Program at Emory, Recipient of the Theodore H. Jack Award, Phi Alpha Theta, Pi Sigma Alpha, Dean’s List at Emory.

The Extreme Importance of Math and Reading Remediation

Upon enrollment at Academic Advantage Tutoring, students are required to take a diagnostic exam. Current ITBS scores are accepted in lieu of diagnostic testing when they show that a student has tested on grade level or above.

We recommend Remediation in Math and/or Reading when students’ test scores are below their current grade level. The good news is that Math Remediation can be completed within three to six months when students attend on a consistent basis to build retention and knowledge. It is recommended that students attend three hours a week for twelve weeks or four hours a week for nine weeks to complete 36 hours of instruction in one-on-one tutoring sessions. Many of our math students who attend the Math remediation program complete the program prior to 36 hours of instruction and take a post-test. Individual results vary. Some students may take longer to complete the program, but show large increases in academic gains when tested. However, students who test low in Reading Comprehension make initial gains in Math improvement, but will continue to struggle with word problems and problem solving due to low Reading comprehension. For students with both low Reading and Math scores who choose not complete both Reading and Math remediation, it is recommended to start Math to improve basic skills, then add Reading comprehension.

It is important to understand that Reading Remediation is a longer process than Math Remediation. Reading Comprehension cannot be improved with three or four sessions. It may take a year or more to improve the Reading Comprehension of students who test two years or more below current grade level. Parents and students must be committed to attending sessions weekly three to four times a week for 36 to 72 hours of instruction to improve Phonics, Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension as well as completing home assignments. There is no short cut to improve reading skills. The student and parent must understand the importance of improving Reading and Math skills to lay a foundation for future success.

For example, a student who tested on 6th grade level in Reading Comprehension in the 9th grade and did not complete a Reading Comprehension program will struggle when it is time to take ACT and/or SAT exams. By the time the student reaches 12th grade, the gap has increased from a three year gap to a six year gap and it is simply too late to get the desired results on a college entrance exam. At that time, only test strategies can be provided in sessions to help the student. There is simply not enough time to improve the six year Reading Comprehension gap within the three month span that the student only has the senior year of high school to get the desired score and especially so if the student cannot commit to consistent tutoring due to sports, part-time jobs, cheerleading, dance, etc. The student can improve, but not enough to obtain the score needed for college admission.

At Academic Advantage Tutoring, we do not lock students and parents into contracts. We make recommendations for student improvement and success. Without needed remediation, gaps in Reading and Math will widen with each school year. When a student does not complete recommended remediation tutoring sessions, we cannot make any guarantee as to any student’s academic success when gaps in academic knowledge exists and the choice is made not to attend the Remediation program or the student starts the program and stops prior to completion or starts the program and does not attend consistently. For many students summer is the best time to make the academic improvements by attending consistent remediation sessions and can focus on tutoring without daily school and homework requirements.

The reality is that all students only have an allotted amount of time between Kindergarten and 12th grade to get the academic skills needed to go on to the next level of college on the time track for fall semester college admission the year after high school graduation. When students are frantic to obtain scores needed their junior and senior year of high school with less than 12 months to prepare for SAT or ACT exams and refused Math and/or Reading remediation in previous years due to other obligations such as sports, cheerleading, dance, jobs, etc. it is impossible to improve low SAT/ACT scores to the desired score needed the Senior year due to low Reading Comprehension. There is simply no time left in addition to that student placing part-time jobs, sports and other activities above test preparation. At this point, it is never too late for a young person to succeed. Many students have attended our center after high school to improve Reading and Math levels to prepare to take the Compass exam, ASVAB exam, GED and SAT and ACT exams to move to the next level to attend college.

When making the choice not to attend recommended remediation tutoring sessions at the time of testing, gaps in academic levels continue to widen, students constantly struggle with daily class and homework assignments and will lack the foundation to pass College entrance exams to continue with the next level of life be it college or job preparation. Education is the key to success and the prospect for a better future. It is never too late to prepare, but waiting to prepare causes anxiety, frustration and embarrassment that can be avoided. Prepare now, today, for your future success. Tomorrow will come and it is best to be prepared it arrives.