Category Archives: News

Anyone Can Succeed in Academics. Here’s How.

Tutors for All achieves huge gains in Literacy with a new approach to learning. This fall, T4A debuted our “Meta-Cognitive Framing Activities” approach for the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Youth Scholars Program. The participating Youth Scholars are Boston Public High School students. Students who took part in the program grew an average of three grade levels in reading comprehension from Spring 2013 to the December 2013, the equivalent of getting three years of education in one calendar year. The following is adapted from the final report we submitted to MGH’s Center for Community Health Improvement in December 2013 detailing the results of the program:

“Traditional discourses about improving student performance focuses on increasing standards and providing high-level coursework. However, while providing quality content area instruction is essential, there is little evidence to suggest that this–in and of itself–can lead to the gains in high school and college degree attainment for which we are striving. Therefore, recent research has begun to look toward other nonacademic factors that play a role in a Scholar’s schooling experiences. These nonacademic factors, often called “noncognitive factors”, such as persistence, self-regulation, motivation, work habits, organization, and learning strategies, have been shown to have a demonstrated effect on education outcomes.” (Farrington et al., 2012) (Emphasis added.)

Source: University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, Literature Review, June 2012

Source: University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, Literature Review, June 2012

In response to the growing body of research that highlights the importance of non-academic factors such as academic mindset and self-regulating academic strategies in student success, Tutors for All designed a new tutorial format to directly address these “non-cognitive factors” alongside direct skills-based instruction. Our tutors are trained and equipped to enable their students to move from being passive recipients of academic content to becoming active, conscientious, and productive scholars.

This semester at our MGH program, all tutorials were focused around a ‘Metacognitive Framing Activity’ (MFA). The MFA’s are strategies designed to help students internalize knowledge and self-regulate learning. While the MFA’s primarily provide examples for how they may be used to supplement the acquisition of literacy skills, they can be modified to support learning in other content areas. MFA concepts include: Think Aloud, Visualization, and Three-Step-Reading. Tutors and students integrated these activities into their sessions as they read a section of the student’s text book, reviewed the students notes, or other provided classroom material that addresses the content students need to learn. The second section of the tutorial, the skills section, would then use the MFA to practice whatever skill/assignment/project/problem that student is struggling with a specific content area. For students struggling with Reading Comprehension the results were tremendous. Click the graph for a larger view of the specific numbers:

Note: Student’s 7 and 8 did not take the GRADE assessment in spring 2013. Therefore we have omitted their fall 2013 tests scores from the overall growth calculation. All students were in 10th or 11th grade at the time of the second assessment.

We look forward to posting our Spring semester results in May!

- Chris Baginski

Meet T4A Alum Contest Winner Vivian Dien


Ms. Dien expressed disbelief when we called her to let her know that she’d won our first Alumnae/i Raffle and an iPad mini — it was, in her own words, “the first time … (she’d) won anything.”  After she got over the shock, she took some time to reflect on her experience as a tutor in our Academic Mindset Program at MGH’s Center for Community Health Improvement.

T4A: Given the wide variety of work-study options available to MIT students, what made you decide to work at Tutors for All’s MGH Program?

Vivian: I had a bit teaching experience beforehand and an interest in education, so finding a tutoring gig as a work-study option seemed like a no-brainer.  I choose to work with Tutors for All-MGH at first because it was conveniently located and the schedule worked with my classes at the time. I later realized that I had picked to work with a great organization that really prioritizes the growth of their students and takes a more holistic approach to education.

T4A: What would you consider the highlight of your semester of tutoring at MGH?

Vivian:I think the highlight of my semester was when I challenged my student to take initiative in pursuing some of her life goals–things that were related to learning more about her family heritage/culture and doing research on colleges she might be interested in. She came into tutoring the next week and was so excited about all the things she learned. She was teaching me for a change, which showed heightened confidence, focus, and passion.

T4A: Looking backwards, how has the experience affected you professionally and personally?

Vivian: My experience with Tutors for All has helped me grow in many ways. I have become a better listener, more empathetic, articulate, and patient–which have had positive effects on both my career and personal life.

MGH Program Manager Luisa Baginski also shared her thoughts on Vivian’s service in the MGH program, noting the following:

Ms. Dien “stood out immediately among a cast of stellar tutors as a dynamic, dedicated and ambitious individual. From the outset, she challenged her student, Jasmine, to go the extra mile in her work, and she did! Jasmine clearly caught the energy and enthusiasm Vivian regarded their studies with, and they achieved some remarkable things together. I would be very interested to watch the careers of both these young women, as I suspect they will both achieve great success.”

First Day of Summer Programs

Welcome to T4A Summer Program!

Today is the first day of summer programs! Our summer  Bicentennial program at MGH will serve 33 students and focus on college preparation and success. Our college students have chosen to focus on various Math and Science courses in preparation for their Fall semester. Our high school students will be studying for the SAT and ACCUPLACER.

“The average student’s literacy level tends to drop over the summer.” says Program Manager, Chris Baginski. “Tutors for All summer programs offer a fantastic opportunity to spring forward in math, reading, and the sciences. Four years worth of student data backs that up.”

In Summer 2012, T4A’s ACCUPLACER Preparation course led to students passing out of 35 remedial courses, saving them over $15,000 in tuition and fees.

Exponent Partners Awards Tutors for All its 2013 QuickStart Grant

Thanks to ExponentPartners’ QuickStart Grant, Tutors for All has just completed full Salesforce Implementation. We look forward to being able to more effectively reach our constituents and serve our students with the help of Salesforce.

ExponentPartners is a mission-based information technology consulting firm specializing in human services, education and social impact. They are industry professionals who have partnered with the Salesforce Foundation to develop their QuickStart service. The QuickStart Service is a Salesforce implementation solution that helps organizations quickly and efficiently deploy Salesforce, while tailoring the CRM to the organization’s unique needs.

Over 250 nonprofit organizations have trusted ExponentPartners to enhance their technology and performance management capacity.

Thank you ExponentPartners!


Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation grants support to T4A’s Academic Mindset Tutorial

We are pleased to announce that Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation has just granted us support for our Academic Mindset Tutorial!

The Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation’s grant will help T4A further develop our new Academic Mindset and Learning Strategies Curriculum, originally piloted with the MGH Youth Scholars in Fall 2012.

TFA 73

This curriculum works in conjunction with effective skills-based instruction and is designed to assist students move from being passive recipients of academic content to becoming active, conscientious, and productive scholars. It can be used across grade-levels, content areas, and skills in order to support the internalization of knowledge and development of academic self-efficacy.

This program will improve the mindset, strategy usage, and coursework grades of the students it serves, setting them up as the kind of self-regulating learners that are most likely to achieve success in college and the workplace.

It will provide T4A staff opportunity to integrate the most powerful elements of these programs into our award-winning skills programs while developing a powerful suite of interventions applicable for a range of students in a range of settings.


Tutors for All Awarded “Outstanding Community Partner”

Recently, Tutors for All was recognized by the Scott/Ross Center for Community Service at Simmons College as an Outstanding Community Partner. Tutors for All Program Manager, Courtney McSparron and Operations Manager, Mike Zinni, accepted the award on behalf of all TfA staff, campus representatives, program coordinators, lead tutors, tutors, and volunteers.

Over the course of five years, Tutors for All and the Scott/Ross Center have cultivated a partnership that has served to benefit TfA greatly, not least of which has been the consistent base of high-quality tutors the center has helped to recruit. In addition, the efforts of the always friendly and helpful staff have served as an invaluable resource since TfA’s inception. Tutors for All would like to personally thank Scott/Ross Center Faculty Director, Steve London and Associate Director for Undergraduate Service-Learning, Desirae Simmons.

Boston University Teams with Tutors for All to Develop Long-Term Growth Model

Recently, Tutors for All partnered with a team from Boston University’s School of Management. The BU team, comprised of four senior MBA candidates, was aiming to advise a local nonprofit in strategic planning and long-term growth. Included in the plan were suggested modes for expansion, both in-state and out-of-state, methods for measuring program-school compatibility, avenues to maximize funding via foundations and entitlements, and systems to optimize program productivity, and efficiency.

The team presented the final growth model May 4th to an audience of TfA staff, partners, local education leaders, and potential advisory board members. The presentation met critical acclaim and a lively discussion ensued in which audience members deliberated over the finer aspects of the model. Tutors for All Executive Director Mark Destler noted the success of the presentation and his excitement in its potential.

Tutors for All Invited to Statewide Conference – Presents “Tutoring 101″

Worcester, MA On February 5th, Tutors for All presented “Tutoring 101 … or Using Tutorial to Transform Your School One Student at a Time” at the Massachusetts Center for Public Charter School Excellence Instructional Forum. This presentation showcased the dramatic effects tutorial has had at three Boston charter schools and identified core principles that have led to each programs success.

Tutorial has dramatically affected student performance at MATCH, City on a Hill, and Codman Academy — three of only eight high poverty, high performance high schools statewide — and it has the potential to affect thousands of students at scores of schools in Boston and beyond. At the same time, the vast majority of tutoring programs created by schools just do not work. The core principles and practices identified in Tutors for All’s presentation, available here, will help schools state and nation-wide bridge the achievement gap one student at a time.

Tutors for All Founder Named Educator of the Year

In June of 2007, Mark Destler, founder of Tutors for All, was named 2006-2007 Educator of the Year by Boston Partners in Education for their collaboration on a City on a Hill MCAS Tutorial program that resulted in the highest MCAS scores in CoaH history by a wide margin.  He attended the awards ceremony at Fenway Park accompanied by some exceptional tutors.