A tutoring program designed to boost the grades of freshman struggling to succeed in their first year of high school has yielded some unexpected results: generally lower grades for those in the program.
At the start of this school year, new programs to help freshmen cope with the transition from middle school, such as the freshman families, were instituted.
Believing the freshman year is a student’s most pivotal year, Logan teacher Perri Darweesh started a formal tutoring program, held during zero period, to provide help for freshman who failed one or more classes in their first quarters at Logan.
Of the 40 or so students who were recommended to attend the interventions (as a result of failing the first quarter of English 1, Biology, and Geometry), only about 23 students committed to attend the zero-period program on a regular basis, receiving help from student tutors and teachers.
However, with the first semester over, the success of the tutoring efforts is questionable, at best. A recent evaluation of the first semester grades of those who attended the interventions, concluded that the majority of the students’ grades either stayed the same or dropped further.
After learning of the discouraging results, Darweesh, the current supervisor for the program, assembled a serious talk and evaluation meeting with the students. Trying to help them understand their situation with a simple metaphor, she “asked them how they would feel if they went up to a candy machine and paid without receiving the item they wanted. Of course, the students all said they would want their money back.”
“This how I felt. This is how the school, the tutors, and the administrators felt.” Darweesh tells the Courier. “The truth hurt.”
Darweesh remains grateful for the tutors, both students and teachers, who sacrificed their time to help the freshmen. Two students in particular, Arturo Moreno, and Marshall Lyons, devoted each and every morning to tutor their peers, making it harder to ignore the amount of effort wasted.
As to the reasons why the grades of the students dropped? Darweesh says there could be many reasons. “Maybe our expectations were too high.” she told the Courier.
Intervention organizers recognize that the past semester was a real “eye-opener” for the program, making them aware of the need for changes. With the beginning of a new semester already underway, Darweesh hopes it will be a “fresh, new start” for both the students and the program.
Students who entered the zero- period program needed significant help in at least three of their core classes, leaving little time to make any major improvements in a single tutoring period. To fix that, organizers are planning to form a more strategic tutoring process.
This semester, efforts will be modified according to the students’ individual needs, focusing primarily on the subject closest to passing, rather than trying to juggle all the subjects at once. To help assist in this progression, Logan language arts teacher Kim Petit, will start leading the English I curriculum, joining teachers Victor Rodriguez, and Tom McClintock in the multi-subject tutoring.
Another reason they believe had an effect on the students’ progress includes the fact that after the first cinch period, (when the interventions first began), the curriculum for all the classes only got more difficult. As these students already started off below passing grades, it meant they would have needed to work harder to raise their grades, and at the same time, catch up with the current curriculum.
Darweesh said she also believes many students relied too much on the tutoring periods, falsely discouraging them from doing any additional schoolwork at home.
As the second semester began, 10 additional students were enrolled into the program with the existing students, who will all still continue to attend the interventions.
Currently, the program is still not mandatory for freshmen that are failing their 3 core classes, meaning there are about 20 or so eligible students do not to attend the interventions.
In light of the circumstances, the tremendous amount of gratitude towards the ten student tutors is unchanging. “The best role models are students themselves,” Darweesh says, “and these kids who selflessly come in to help every morning are just truly amazing.”