Category Archives: Results

Kudos to Our Fall 2016 Students and Tutors!

Last month, Tutors for All wrapped up six noteworthy programs (including a new partnership with Boston International Newcomers Academy)! This past semester in particular, there was an emphasis on student-driven learning and creating a synergistic environment between scholars and tutors. We’d like to share a bit about four of the programs, as well as some of the results!

MGHMassachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Community Health Improvement

The Masachusetts General Hospital Center for Community Health Improvement (MGH CCHI) and Tutors for All continued their partnership this Fall by offering academic support to 18 total scholars in 10th-12th grade. With the support of 15 coaches (tutors) from local colleges and universities, the Youth Scholars Program ran for 10 weeks and catered to all students, especially those who met a certain criteria based on assessments, GPA, and core class grades.

Each scholar received 120 minutes of academic support every session, and a collegiate academic environment was created, encouraging a scholar-driven learning approach. Overall, the vast majority of scholars indicated overwhelming satisfaction with their coaches, rating them a 4 or 5/5.

Students who received tutoring in reading gained an average of 1.2 years of skill over the ten week program; students who received math tutoring  gained an average of 1.93 years!

Many of the students expressed great appreciation for the support they received from their tutors over the course of the semester. One student in particular said, “Thanks for pushing me to believe that I can improve even when the world is moving faster than I can read.” 

 

Boston Green Academy BGA FALL 2016

T4A began its partnership with the Boston Green Academy in the fall of 2015, and this past semester transitioned to an in-school, pull out model to increase student attendance. Tutorial sessions took place during the school day, one group on Tuesday and the other on Thursday.

Twenty-one students enrolled in the program with the support of nine local tutors from Bostonian colleges and universities. Coaches were given a sequence of skills to cover with their students throughout the semester based on the four primary domains of the 10th grade MCAS Math exam.

About 90% of the students did as well as or better on the end assessment than they did on the first assessment, and about 60% of the total students showed significant improvements on the tests given to them at both the beginning and end of each tutorial session!

TOBINTobin K-8 School Program

Tutors for All began its partnership with the Tobin School in 2010 and has been working with students exclusively on math since 2012. This fall, 14 total students enrolled in the program which ran twice weekly for 80 minutes per session.

The framework for the program came from the JUMP math curriculum developed in Toronto, CA by John Mighton. Through this, students were allowed to work at their own pace, particularly when working one-on-one to learn basic numeracy concepts. As a result of the tutorial sessions, students who took several “Show What You Know” assessments at the end of each meeting showed a 26 percent improvement overall.

A consistent student recognition policy was put into place in which students tracked their own growth on charts and were given positive points by tutors. Additionally, awards were distributed to each participating student on the last day of the program

On the final survey, almost every student marked tutors in all categories as above or exceedingly above average. One participant discovered a passion for challenges, saying, “My favorite part is when I get a hard question. That is my favorite part.” 

Tutors also felt the impact of tutorial sessions, learning from their students in the process. At the end of the semester, one tutor discussed, “I think the biggest impact was explaining why it’s important to work hard and go to college.”

Boston International Newcomers Academy BINCA FALL 2016

This past semester, Tutors for All and the Boston International Newcomers Academy unveiled our first collaborative program ever! This program emphasized working with students within Boston International High School’s segment of the academy, providing in-classroom assistance to teachers with large classes

On several occasions, tutors with advanced skills in high-need languages were able to provide assistance in Newcomers Academy classes. In total, five T4A tutors offered support to a total of nine instructors in 20 different classes.

A massive thank you to all of our Fall 2016 tutors, and congratulations to their students!

Making A Difference This Semester and Beyond

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Paul Mykos first discovered his love for tutoring as a student in his native country of Greece when he and a friend organized a weekly tutoring program for 1st-9th grade students. Now he’s a sophomore studying Chemical Engineering at Northeastern University, a choice which he credits to his own mentors in high school who imparted in him a passion for math and science.

Photo2Having first learned about Tutors for All his freshman year, Paul was quick to get involved. “I was looking to get involved with a tutoring program, but Tutors for All in particular impressed me, partly because it was the only organization that could prove it was making a difference, and partly because T4A’s reps clearly did what they did because they believed in it,” he said. He worked for a semester at the Mass General program and found himself partnered with Jennifer, a high school student originally from Colombia. “We contributed to each other’s growth,” he said. “When Jennifer mastered concepts which she previously thought were way beyond her level, we both felt so proud!”

When Paul’s English professor gave his class an assignment to present on something they felt passionate about and wanted to advocate for, he knew immediately what his topic would be. As he began researching for his presentation, however, he found that Tutors for All’s impact was even bigger than he first realized. “What we do is not just plain tutoring,” he said. “Through tutoring and mentoring, we are achieving something much bigger and significant. I strongly believe that any student should have the opportunity to attend college if they work hard regardless of ethnicity, social status or family income, and everyone should have the right to build a better future for themselves. What we do helps people achieve that, through education.” Paul’s passion for T4A even helped educate his fellow classmates.  “I could see everyone nodding in agreement while I was talking,” he said.  “Some classmates even told me that they had never thought about how lucky they were to be able to attend college.”

Paul sees tutoring as an important part of his life, and hopes that his work will convince others to see it that way, too. “Tutors for All has helped me realize how rewarding and precious it is to be able to help others and contribute to their improvement,” he said. “In the same way that my mentors were able to inspire me, I also hope to inspire and make a difference for everyone I have the privilege of mentoring.”

Element #4 of Highly Effective Tutorial: Balanced Collaboration and Autonomy

For eight years running, Tutors for All programs have achieved jaw-dropping results for Boston kids and the organizations that serve them.

How have our programs accomplished this?  While each program in our history has its own unique story, we believe that seven key elements unite them and offer a road map to follow.

MGH Spring 2014 Report

  1. High Quality Oversight
  2. Professionalization of Tutors
  3. 1:1 or 1:2 Ratios
  4. Balanced Collaboration and Autonomy
  5. Regular Assessment and Progress Monitoring
  6. Tutors for All (not Some)
  7. Leveraged Subsidies for Service

Over the next few months, we’ll be spending some time discussing each of them.  Our goal: a conversation among experts and beginners on how effective programs can work.

Today’s topic: Balanced Collaboration and Autonomy

Although there are many reasons for Tutors for All’s success, one key factor is its strong partnerships with the schools and community organizations in which it works. Tutors for All has worked with a wide variety of partners: district schools, charter schools; high schools, middle schools, elementary schools; organizations like the YMCA and Mass General Hospital. Each of these institutions has its own set of standards and expectations for the students it serves. Tutors for All works needs to collaborate to produce a smooth, collegial environment in which to pursue academic success. At the same time, Tutors for All programs need autonomy in order to instruct each student individually, building on his/her unique combination of strengths and areas for growth.

Upon partnering with a school, the Tutors for All Program Manager spends considerable time molding Tutors for All’s model into a program best suited for that school and the needs of its student population. The Program Manager works with a designated liaison to integrate the standards of behavior into the Tutors for All expectations. This can involve learning how to use a school’s system of merits and demerits, or using the same language when speaking about the academic expectations (e.g. an oft-repeated motto, “Everybody learns here,” acronyms, “Let’s see that SLANT”, or nomenclature, “welcome Bicentennial Scholars!”) Where possible, a program manager will work with teachers to gain insight into students’ learning styles and align curricula appropriately. The program manager and the liaison have regular weekly meetings to check in on norms, expectations and learning goals. It is critical for Tutors for All and school/community partner to represent a united front. An effective Tutors for All program is smoothly integrated within an academic environment. Students are encouraged, supported, and accountable, fairly and equally by everyone invested in his or her academic success

 

At the same time, however, Tutors for All operates as a “school within a school.” We have our own instructors (tutors), our own curriculum, and our own administration (coordinators and program managers.) The academic content of a tutorial is not determined by daily class or homework, but instead by a student’s progress mastering the skills necessary for the independent completion of that work.  The pace of the lesson is determined by the students needs, and disciplinary infractions are handled by program administration. This level of individualized instruction and intervention (where necessary) in a student’s learning allows a classroom teacher to then focus on the class as a whole, and to follow the grade level content assigned.

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This balance of collaboration and autonomy between partner school and its Tutors for All program allows for a united front of tutor, teachers, and administrators working towards providing our students with the most individualized education possible. With the support of the partner schools, tutoring becomes legitimate and incorporated into the school schedule as a mandatory class, rather than a stigmatized, remedial program. With the support of Tutors for All, students are taught and teachers are freed from reviewing and re-teaching remedial skills to students.  The result: students are prepared for and teachers can focus on grade-appropriate content, with “college and career preparedness for all” no longer just a saying, but now an achievable goal.

Element #3 of Highly Effective Tutorial: 1:1 or 1:2 ratios


At Tutors for All we are fortunate enough to boast extremely successful programs. We believe much of our success can be credited to the organization of our programs and what we call “The 7 Conditions for Effective Tutorial,” which are:

  1. High Quality Oversight
  2. Professionalization of Tutors
  3. 1:1 or 1:2 Ratios
  4. Balanced Collaboration and Autonomy
  5. Regular Assessment and Progress Monitoring
  6. Tutors for All (not Some)
  7. Leveraged Subsidies for Service

This is a closer look at the third condition: 1:1 tutor-student ratios. One-on-one (and sometimes, less ideally, one-on-two) tutoring holds many advantages over traditional classroom learning and even group tutorial.

C-71Tutor-student relationship: One of the major advantages of one-on-one tutorial is the rapport built between student and tutor. The direct and unabridged interaction between student and teacher does wonders for the scholastic ability and outlook of students. The tutor can become something of an academic mentor, and students can look at their mentor and be inspired by his or her educational success. As student and tutor learn and grow together, the student becomes more comfortable and communicative, often asking questions and voicing concerns they would otherwise be hesitant to voice.

Skills for future success: It may be surprising for some people to know students enrolled in tutorial programs perform better in all subjects, not just those addressed in tutorial sessions. This happy symptom of successful tutorial manifests because although tutorial sessions may focus on one or two subjects, the skills a student acquires apply to all learning. In tutorial, students learn to break down material, study effectively, manage their time and expand their capacity for reasoning. These skills diffuse through all present and future learning.

Student Confidence: Confidence, non-academic and academic, can play a deceptively large role in a student’s learning and performance. Often struggling and even successful students struggle with low confidence, second guessing their answers and giving up too easily when faced with challenging material. Together, tutor and student set rigorous, high academic standards, and as the student improves and works towards these lofty goals, supported and encouraged by the tutor, he or she becomes more intellectually sure footed.

Individual and Undivided focus: Students all learn in different ways; are they being taught in a way that is best for them in a classroom? The answer is most likely not. A teacher’s responsibility is to a classroom, while a tutor’s undivided focus is on an individual student. Very quickly, after just one or two sessions, a tutor can identify a student’s strengths and weaknesses, learning styles and pitfalls and orient lessons accordingly. Similarly, the pacing of lessons in a classroom may not be optimal for an individual. One-on-one tutoring addresses this as well, moving as quickly or slowly as a student requires. In a group or classroom setting, it is easy for a student’s lack of preparedness to not be exposed, affirming and encouraging the academically harmful practice. In tutorial sessions, students are unable to hide. Together, tutor and student share a greater obligation toward learning.

 

There are many criteria that must be met to run a successful tutorial program (seven to be exact), one-to-one tutor to student ratios is an essential piece of the academic puzzle. Tutors for All’s expansive and supportive educational supplement would not enjoy the same success without one-on-one tutor-student ratios.

 

 

Kickball for All!

Kickball for All 2015 was a smashing success!   This year’s event was multi-generational with players ranging from toddlers to tutors to T4A supporters!  And we hit our goal of being able to fund 1000 hours of tutoring for Boston Youth!  That’s definitely a record!  If you weren’t able to make it out on Saturday or if you would like to relive the day, here’s a rundown of the event!

The TeamsThis year, we saw a few familiar teams out on the field along with some new ones.  The Test-Takers were back and ready for the competition under the fearless leadership of Andy, Shane, and Bryan.  The Young Tobins (Youngbloods and Team Tobin) had an incredible representation of four Tobin Tutors thanks to the triumphant leadership of Soriya. The Oldies but Codmans (Oldies but Goodies and Codman Squared) threw us a curveball with two of their players on the field under 5 years old and some wise leadership from Mark Destler and Liam Day.  And last, but not least, Team Rainbow brought us many surprises under the shining leadership of Jennifer Zavala and Naomi Muchiri.

Kickball could not have been successful without our hardworking Team Captains. They not only fearlessly led their team on the field, but they also led them through a successful fundraising campaign on Crowdrise. They also brought lots of spirit to the stands and field!

The Champions

Team SpiritThis year, we wanted to encourage lots of positive energy on the field and in the stands so we introduced the Kickball for All Spirit Award for the first time ever.  We asked all the Teams to come up with a cheer and Team Tobin truly blew us out of the water with their cheer and positive spirit throughout the whole afternoon.  We were very excited to be able to present the award to their team.

 

Bridge Builder AwardThis competition may have been the fiercest of the three.  The Bridge Builder Award is given out every year to the team that raises the most funds for Tutors for All. The Test Takers were neck and neck with The Oldies but Goodies in the weeks and days leading up to Kickball for All.  The Test Takers made an impressive leap on the day of the competition raising $1300 on Saturday and jumping ahead of The Oldies but Goodies to win the coveted trophy!

Tournament ChampionsThe championship game was between The Young Tobins and Team Rainbow

Some quotes from the attendees

“Everyone was in good spirits, and it was really heartening to see how much certain community members care about what T4a does. For some reason I wasn’t expecting that level of excitement and commitment from the older folk” -Maria Cassidy, Tutor Extraordinaire

“Thank you for a good time for a good cause.” -Brian Leblanc

And finally…a word from our sponsors!

We would like to wholeheartedly thank our sponsors who gave at all levels.

Element #2 of Highly Effective Tutorial: Professionalization of Tutors (Treat Your Tutors Like Teachers)

  1. For eight years running, Tutors for All programs have achieved jaw-dropping results for Boston kids and the organizations that serve them.

How have our programs accomplished this?  While each program in our history has its own unique story, we believe that seven key elements unite them and offer a road map to follow.MGH Spring 2014 Report

  1. High Quality Oversight
  2. Professionalization of Tutors
  3. 1:1 or 1:2 Ratios
  4. Balanced Collaboration and Autonomy
  5. Regular Assessment and Progress Monitoring
  6. Tutors for All (not Some)
  7. Leveraged Subsidies for Service

Over the next few months, we’ll be spending some time discussing each of them.  Our goal: a conversation among experts and beginners on how effective programs can work.

Today’s topic: Professionalization of Tutors

Tutors for All treats tutors as teachers, and teachers are professionals. Tutors are expected to dress professionally, attend every single tutorial and communicate professionally about absences. They are held accountable for their own lesson planning and expected to continually perfect their practice. We are invested in developing tutors as thoughtful and skilled educators who feel confident in their ability to deliver content.

In order to professionalize our tutors in this way we focus on comprehensive pre-program training, prioritizing reflection, planning and feedback and creating opportunities for growth with the organization.

The Tobin Team of Lead Tutors

The Tobin Team of Lead Tutors

Prior to tutorial tutors are trained in 6 key areas:

  • Student Accountability
  • Professionalism
  • Curriculum
  • Pedagogy
  • Collaboration
  • Cultural Competency

This kind of depth of training sets the expectation that tutors are not only skilled in their subject area, but also well versed in student engagement, effective pedagogy and creative lesson planning. Tutors continue to receive professional development in all 6 areas throughout the semester during the reflection time built into Tutors For All’s programming. Professional development lessons have included positive framing, making math games meaningful and relationship building with students.

We additionally create a culture of reflection, planning and feedback by setting aside preparation and reflection time and observing tutors at work. Tutors arrive 30 minutes before tutorial in order to spend time preparing for their daily lesson. Tutors will use this time to review content, create expansion materials or troubleshoot a challenging student behavior with a co-worker. This built in time requires tutors to plan thoughtful, engaging lessons that meet their students’ needs.

Emily MGHFollowing tutorial, tutors spend 30 minutes reflecting on their lesson or developing skills in one of the 6 T4A focus areas. During this debriefing time, tutors have the opportunity to receive feedback, share highs and lows and collaboratively problem solve with their peers. Debriefing questions have included, “What have you learned about your student’s learning habits and how you are going to modify your lesson plan to accommodate their specific needs?” This practice holds tutors accountable to continued improvement of their practice.

One way we prioritize feedback is by holding individual conferences once a semester to discuss tutors’ strengths and areas for growth. In these meetings tutors have a chance to set professional development goals as well as give the Program Manager feedback about the program. Andreas Wolfe, lead tutor at Tobin, wrote the following about a tutor’s strengths: “she consistently uses inquiry based learning—she does not provide her student with the answers, instead questioning him to figure out the answers himself.” Another tutor received the following area for growth:  he can change the tone and pace of instruction to be more engaged and enthusiastic about material.” This kind of targeted observation and feedback helps us hold our tutors to high standards as professional educators.

Tutors for All is a program that offers a variety of professional growth opportunities for tutors. Former tutors have been promoted to lead tutors, coordinators, curriculum specialists and managers. In these positions tutors are able to gain leadership and facilitation experience as undergraduate students.

Our tutors are professional educators. We work hard to set high expectations, develop their skills and show them they are valued with leadership opportunities.

Hannah DeAngelis, Program Manager

Element #1 of Highly Effective Tutorial: High Quality Oversight

For eight years running, Tutors for All programs have achieved jaw-dropping results for Boston kids and the organizations that serve them.

How have our programs accomplished this?  While each program in our history has its own unique story, we believe that seven key elements unite them and offer a roadmap to follow.

  1. Award's Night #2High Quality Oversight
  2. Professionalization of Tutors
  3. 1:1 or 1:2 Ratios
  4. Balanced Collaboration and Autonomy
  5. Regular Assessment and Progress Monitoring
  6. Tutors for All (not Some)
  7. Leveraged Subsidies for Service

Over the next few months, we’ll be spending some time discussing each of them.  Our goal: a conversation among experts and beginners on how effective programs can work.

Today’s topic: High Quality Oversight.

Continue reading

Conditions for Effective Tutorial

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor eight years running, Tutors for All programs have achieved jaw-dropping results for Boston kids and the organizations that serve them.  Settings have varied — High school/Middle School (and now Elementary School!); charter school/district school/community agency; during school/after-school – but the story has remained the same:

  • Students come into Tutors for All program years below grade level in fundamental skills;
  • Students receive high-dosage tutoring from Boston-area college students;
  • Students catch up with, and at times even surpass, their suburban peers.

How have our programs accomplished this?  What’s our “special sauce”?  Can other schools and programs replicate our success?  While each program in our history has its own unique story, we believe that seven key elements unite them and offer a roadmap to follow.C-23

  1. High Quality Oversight
  2. Professionalization of Tutors
  3. 1:1 or 1:2 Ratios
  4. Balanced Collaboration and Autonomy
  5. Regular Assessment and Progress Monitoring
  6. Tutors for All (not Some)
  7. Leveraged Subsidies for Service

Over the next two months, we’ll drill down into each element, sharing what it means from a theoretical and practical standpoint.  If you’re hungry for more now, take a look at this.

 

A Successful Spring Break!

When you hear “College Spring Break,” what do you think about?  Relaxing on the beach?  Watching netflix on the couch?  How about continuing to bridge the achievement gap?

DSC_7731Even with many of our tutors gone on their college spring breaks, we were able to keep our programs fully running and continue to meet the needs of our students.  Several of our tutors chose an alternative Spring Break and put in extra hours at our four programs.  We also teamed up with Boston Cares (the area’s largest volunteer mobilizer) to find one-time volunteers to jump in at our programs!

To Kick-off Spring Break, T4A tutors and staff gathered at the NonProfit Center on Friday, March 6th DSC_7711to celebrate!  Anna’s Taqueria catered and we played a few games that brought lots of laughter into the room!

A huge thank you to all listed below who showed their commitment to our programs and to bridging the achievement gap in Boston!

 

Our Spring Break Tutors: Na An, Shelley Bertolino, Joel Betke, Maria Cassidy, SeungJoo Cha, Conan Chan, Den Chiww, Zoila Coc-Chang, Kaydee Donohoo, Jacinta Dyke, Tabi Fink, Tyra Flounory, Bennett Hadley, Jessalynn Hudgins, Victoria Glover, Sarah Lafleur, Yifei Li, Meghan Lowney, Denise Matte, Rohit Matthew, Eleanor Morse, Paul Mykos, Weeraya Orwatthana, Makaylin Randall, Wilner Renaud, Phoebe Rogers, Tina Safford, Asad Siddiqui, Robert Staulo, Lakshmi Venkatraman

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Tutor and Student Spotlight: Cathy and Halima

IMAG0141This month’s Tutor and Student Spotlight features Cathy from Simmons College and Halima, a 10th Grader from the MGH Youth Scholars Program.  Last semester, Halima grew 5.2 grade levels on her GMADE (Group Mathematics Assessment and Diagnostic Evaluation) and is now testing at grade level.  Halima showed the most growth of all the MGH Youth Scholars last semester.

Why do you tutor?

 Cathy: “To improve a student’s knowledge.”

 What have you learned from Cathy during tutoring?

 Halima: “Multiplying and dividing fractions, factoring, and improper and mixed fractions.”

What have you learned from Halima in tutorial?

 Cathy: “I admire Halima’s dedication to use after school time to learn and use her math skills.”

 

IMAG0138What do you like the most about tutorial?

 Halima: “The fact that I get helped with a subject that I need to improve on.  And that it is one- on-one.”

 Cathy: “Being able to work one-on-one with a scholar.”

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

 Halima: “Something creative that she does is that she teaches me in a way that is fun and enjoyable (which I rarely experience outside of tutoring).”

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

 Cathy: “I would always quiz her on factors and try to trick her.  By the end she wouldn’t back down, even if I tried to see if there was another factor.”

What are your favorite things to do outside of school?

 Halima: “Hang out with friends, go to the movies, and shopping.”

What else would you like people to know about you?

 Cathy: “I enjoy working one-on-one with people, and that’s a reason why I am in college for physical therapy.”