Category Archives: News

Tutor and Student Spotlight: Soriya and Jacquez

P1000961This month’s Tutor and Student Spotlight features Soriya (Ms. Peng), a Lead Tutor from Wentworth Institute of Technology and Jacquez, a 7th Grader from the Maurice Tobin School.  Over the course of last semester, Jacquez’s score on his Show What You Know Exams grew from 59% to 89% (30%).  Jacquez was one of the top five Tobin students who grew the most from tutorial last semester.

Why do you tutor?

Soriya: “I got into tutoring my freshman year of high school and was happy that I was able to find a tutoring gig here in Boston.  I love knowing that I can help further a student’s quality of education while getting to know someone new.  Being able to take part in someone’s development is always a good feeling.”

What have you learned from Ms. Peng during tutoring?

Jacquez: “Ms. Peng taught me how to multiply decimals better.  Ms. Peng taught me how to turn fractions into percentages.  Ms. Peng taught me how to turn fractions into decimals.”

What have you learned from Jacquez in tutorial?

Soriya: “Looking back at my years in middle school, it was pretty miserable and boring so I can relate to how he feels as we walks into yet another class. I think my job is to reiterate what he has learned, but in a more engaging way.  Jacquez is a really bright kid, but with so many students in this school, it’s hard to stand out and show everyone how great of a kid he is.”

What do you like the most about tutorial?

Jacquez: “At first I didn’t like it because I thought I knew everything but then Ms. Peng was cool and I started liking tutoring. Me and Ms. Peng started to get through work easily and Ms. Peng taught me a lot of new stuff. She’s a great tutor.”

Soriya: “With Jacquez, I’ve been able to track his growth because I was able to return this semester.  By seeing this commitment within each other, we are both comfortable with each other and know that we’re here to help each other.  Tutorial gives both the tutor and student an insight of our lives and enables us to create a professional working relationship.”
Has Ms. Peng ever done anything creative or really funny??  What was it?

Jacquez: “Ms. Peng did creative things like if I didn’t get a problem she would try to put it in other formations for me to understand the problem.”

Has Jacquez ever done anything creative or really funny? What was it?

Soriya: “I think mentioning just one of his really funny moments would be too hard! Jacquez is always creatively doodling in between me correcting his worksheets, so it’s nice to see his artistic side. Overall he’s just a really funny kid and I think that’s what makes our relationship and tutoring sessions so fun and relaxed.”

What are your favorite things to do outside of school?

Jacquez: “What I mostly do right after-school is go to Chacho’s (pizza) and then I go to the Tobin Community Center that’s where my Uncle Dorien works.  I go work out and then after work-out, I play basketball and my uncle trains me then I go home to my Grandfather (pop-pop) and do some homework with my dad. Then I watch tv and eat food and have ice cream and maybe play the game and go to sleep.”

What else would you like people to know about you?

Soriya: “I lost my native language of Khmer when I entered the American school system, so as one could imagine, school was pretty difficult as a kid. I don’t think I ever felt comfortable with an educator enough to even admit I didn’t understand something. Of course as I got older, this just made it more difficult and really made me realize how critical this stage is. With that experience and having four younger siblings, I would want someone besides family to be there for me and my educational development. Especially in a school with a larger student to teacher ratio, it’s really difficult for a student to get the attention they need to get a quality education. With Tutors for All, students get the attention they need and with Jacquez’s ridiculous improvement, it just shows how important this program is. I tutor because I know that’s what would have helped me. For any student out there, I’d say that if you reach out to any kid of any age, you’ll never regret it.”

MGH Program Continues to Produce Dramatic Results

DSC_7223This Fall, Tutors for All continued our partnership with the Mass General Hospital Center for Community Health Improvement by offering academic support in core subjects to scholars in 10th-12th grade who had been identified as needing extra academic support.  In addition, graduates of the MGH scholars program were given the option to continue receiving academic support from our coaches (MGH program term for tutors).

 Over the course of nine weeks, scholars were coached for two hours a week in math, literacy, or science.  Tutors for All used curriculum created in house and tailored to the specific needs of scholars by their coaches.  At the beginning of the Fall, scholars set goals for the semester with their coaches with the focus on improving their math skills, improving their reading skills, or improving their overall GPA.

At the end of the semester, scholars who had focused on reading or math skills took assessements to see how much they learned.  Six scholars took the math assessment (GMADE) and three scholars took the reading assessment (GRADE).  Scholars grew an impressive average of 2.23 grade levels on their exams.  We even had one student who grew 5.4 grade levels on her GMADE and is now testing on grade level as a 10th Grade student.

 This graph breaks down the growth by assessment. Scholars taking the math assessment began lower, with an average Grade Equivalency (GE) of 5.85 compared to 7.23 on the reading assessment. They also showed more growth, 2.37 grade levels compared to 1.97. Math assessment scores ended with an average GE of 8.22, and reading with an average GE of 9.20.

When we asked the scholars about why they grew so much, they talked about their coaches.  One Emily MGHstudent said, “I would like thank her a lot for all of these new methods and words. I appreciate all she has done for me and I really love being here because of her.”  Another student told us, “Thank you so much [to the coach] for having the time and patience with me.”

When I asked Luisa Baginski, the MGH Program Manager about the growth, she said, “I was privileged to witness consistent effort on behalf of scholars and coaches this semester, and I am proud – although not surprised – at the results they have achieved.”

We look forward to seeing more growth from our scholars this Spring.  If you have any interest in coaching an MGH Scholar this semester, there are still a few positions available so make sure to apply!

-Elizabeth Marshall, Tutor Support Coordinator

Preempting the Achievement Gap, One Second Grader at a Time


20141210_170158The Fall of 2014 brought a number of changes at Tutors For All.  Through a partnership with the YMCA, the organization began a new program at the Curtis Guild School in East Boston, and welcomed program director Hannah DeAngelis to steer the program, and take over Tutors For All’s successful Tobin Program in Mission Hill.

This Fall also brought another exciting new project, a 2nd grade program. The results of the program were astounding.  Between the first and second Show What You Know tests, the class average rose an average of 34%, with almost every student achieving at least 30% growth.

Working with Hannah, I had a chance to ask what her thoughts were when starting the 2nd grade program.  It was an easy choice.  Hannah told me, “We had more than enough tutors to meet the needs of the 2nd graders at the YMCA.”

SkillTracker_JumpGrade 2It took some time to develop materials for the program.   There was no second grade curriculum and no skill tracker developed.  However, working closely with 2nd grade teachers, YMCA and Curtis Guild Staff, the Guild team built new materials all within a week.  Tutorial skills ranged from counting to patterns and attributes to measurements.

During the last week of the program, I sat down with 2nd graders Davi, Juan and Gabrielly.  I asked what each of them liked about tutoring.  Juan was quick to chirp in, “Tutoring is hard.” When I pried a bit further, he clarified, “My tutor never gives up.  Even when I don’t know, she pushes me to learn.”

The YMCA program is still hiring a few spots for the spring semester, so apply now to make a difference.  Special shout-outs to all the 2nd graders, tutors, lead tutors, and to YMCA program coordinators Rachel Hemstock and Kevin DeCosta for helping this program reach its full potential.

Andreas Wolfe, YMCA Lead Tutor and Tobin Program Coordinator



Celebrating our Fall Programs

On Thursday, December 4th, over 25 tutors, coordinators, and program managers gathered at the NonProfit Center for our Fourth Annual Awards Night.  This evening was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the multitude of accomplishments from our tutors this semester!  Everyone enjoyed pizza (graciously donated to the event by Regina Pizzeria), talked to one another, and listened closely as the following awards were presented…


MVP: Caroline MartelAward's Night #3

Growth Mindset Award: Soriya Peng

Most Patient: Aiza Kabeer

Most Enthusiastic: Makaylin Randall

Most Hours Volunteered: Bennett Hadley

Rookie Award: Taylor Peck


Award's Night 1MGH AWARDS:Award's Night #2

MVP- Harrison Soebroto

Growth Mindset Award: Heer Patel

Most Enthusiastic:  Lauren Chaleff

Most Hours Volunteered: Cathy Baker



MVP:  Rebecca VilardoAward's Night #4

Growth Mindset Award: Lucas Dispoto

Most Patient:  Sylvia Sanchez

Most Enthusiastic: Sara Chaffee

Most Hours Volunteered: Tina Safford

Rookie Award: Mariana Bastarrachea



MVPs: Desiree Houston and Gina Jimenez

Morning Person: Elsie Mayo

Award's Night #5Growth Mindset Award: Joel Betke

Most Enthusiastic: Thien Le

Most Patient: Ben Moran and Tom Little

Most Hours Volunteered: Tim Sakharov

Infectious Positivity: Sam Robertson

Student Rapport Building: Lexus Williams

Student Flexibility: Phillip Jones, Ben Bolotin, and Jacinta Dyke


Congratulations to all the award recipients and to everyone who has tutored with us this semester!  We appreciate all the work you do to help us bridge the achievement gap!

Applications are open for Spring tutoring positions.  Remember that we reward any referral that leads to the hiring and successful placement of a work-study or volunteer tutor with a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate.

 Happy Holidays and we look forward to working with you again in the New Year!

Elizabeth Marshall, Tutor Support Coordinator

Great Results at our Codman Summer Program!

CodmanCandidresizedtofitThis July Tutors for All ran an intensive high school math school program at Codman Academy. A group of seven students from Codman received individualized instruction Monday through Thursday for three weeks.

At the beginning, middle, and end of the program students were assessed on the same 23 pre-algebraic skills (Integers, Fractions, Decimals, Order of Operations, etc.) Some of the skills are listed below:


Each of the students who participated showed growth between first to last assessments. Five out of the seven students grew at or above a rate 25%, with total student growth averaging at 26%.

Codman Growth on SWYK Summer 2014

Students were surveyed at the end of the program. Most were very pleased with their experience despite the program running during summer break. The following slides are real student quotes from the survey.

Codman Summer 2014 Student Survey Results

Codman Student Survey summer2014slide4

Codman Student Survey summer2014slide6

Tutors for All has been blessed to serve Codman students for the past five years. Fall tutorial at Codman begins Saturday September 27th, 2014. Click here to become a tutor at Codman this fall.

Tutors for All Announces New Partnership with the YMCA!

EastBoston YMCA


Starting this summer Tutors for All will be running summer camp and after school programs at YMCA locations across Boston.

T4A will serve elementary school students attending YMCA summer camp and after school programs. This first of these programs will begin at the Roxbury YMCA this July. In the fall we will conduct our first after school program at the East Boston YMCA. We look forward to expanding our outreach to Boston youth through the YMCA. Check back for updates throughout the year!

T4A Partner, MGH Youth Scholars, Profiled by WBZ-TV

MGH Spring 2014 Report

Recently, the MGH Youth Scholars were profiled by WBZ-TV. This amazing health career-oriented program exposes high school aged students to careers in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) world. In addition to experiential learning, MGH provides the Youth Scholars with Academic Coaches through a partnership with Tutors for All.

Tutors for All works with Scholars on the academic side of the program. Known as “Academic Day”, each week the scholars are given direct one-on-one instruction in a given topic. Scholars have the opportunity to work on math or literacy skills, PSAT prep, or how to apply study and working skills to their school curriculum.

All coaching sessions are focused around a learning strategy designed to help students internalize knowledge and self-regulate learning. For math Tutors for All utilizes the JUMP Math curriculum developed in Toronto, Canada by John Mighton.  JUMP Math breaks basic math instruction into manageable steps and then builds on those concepts as students demonstrate mastery. T4A Literacy Coaches used short readings as a daily starting point for their literacy instruction. T4A literacy curriculum ranges from basic skills, PSAT prep, SAT prep, Accuplacer prep, and AP class level. Tutors for All provided each scholar with the appropriate level according to the results of the scholars’ diagnostic assessment.

MGH Spring 2014 Report Bar Graph

(Note: Y Axis measure growth in grade equivalency (GE) or academic years over the course of the program.)

Above is a snapshot of our results from the Spring 2014 semester. The above chart represents academic data for scholars with 80% or greater attendance. GMADE was the standardized test given to assess math, GRADE was the standardized test given to assess literacy.

Overall Scholars reported an overwhelmingly positive feeling about “Academic Day” with Tutors for All. A performance survey on the last day of their program is represented below.

MGH Spring 2014 Tutor Performance

The partnership between Tutors for All and MGH’s Youth Scholars program is going into its fourth year this summer. As one of our longest running current partners, we have enjoyed working with MGH and are looking forward to working in the future.

Student Growth in Spring 2014

This semester, Tutors for All worked at four different locations: Codman Academy Public Charter School, Jackson Mann K-8 School, MGH Center for Community Improvement, and Maurice Tobin School. Our students ranged in age from 4th grade to college.

We measure our results many different ways, the most famous and standardized method being MCAS scores. It will be a few months before these scores are released, but we have already measured growth with our own tests, called “Show What You Know” (SWYK). These tests reflect the math or English standards that students should meet to be successful at their grade level. They take the test at the beginning, in the middle, and near the end of a program.

This blog will review three groups that we tutored this semester. (The high school sophomores we tutor at Codman and the high school and college students we coach at MGH aren’t included because their programs do not use SWYK.)

Codman – 9th grade, 48 students

Spring 2014 Codman Graph

Codman is our largest and longest run program, and serves both 9th and 10th graders. We have tracked the growth of our forty-eight 9th graders over the last two semesters. Of students who have taken the SWYK at least once each semester, the average score at the beginning of the year was 52.5%. Now it is at 70% – a 17.5% increase.


Jackson Mann – 4th Grade, 51 students

Spring 2014 JM Graph

Jackson Mann is our youngest program, teaching 4th grade math. Over the last semester, the average score went from 52.8% to 67.78%, an increase of 14.98%. One of our students increased their score from 43.33% to 78.57% in ten short weeks. Beyond academic achievement, this student also gained confidence in their abilities – an invaluable part of fulfilling their potential in the future.


Tobin – 5th grade, 50 students

Spring 2014 Tobin Graph

Tutors for All has a successful history with Tobin. In 2012, the 6th grade cohort we tutored achieved a math MSGP of 87. This semester, we enthusiastically renewed our relationship with the school. If SWYK scores are any indication, our tutors have really helped their 5th grade students. 97% of our 50 students showed a marked improvement on their SWYK scores throughout the semester. Overall, individual students’ scores improved an an average of 14.6%. The majority of students (62%) improved more than 15%, and 28% of students improved their scores by more than 25%.

Among these students we had a few superstars. 3 students, or 6%, improved their scores by more than 30%. One student went from scores 55% on their exam to 97%! Five other students tested out of the 4th grade level curriculum and started working on 7th-9th grade curriculum instead.

These statistics show that individualized instruction can create fantastic results in a relatively short amount of time. When students are given the attention they need, they succeed.

- Esther Gonzalez

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.”