At Chicago Vocational Career Academy, which is desperately trying to raise its test scores and graduation rate, nearly all students come from low-income black families. Most ninth graders are years behind in reading and math. Intensive tutoring provided by MATCH Education is helping students catch up, reports Maya Dukmasova in the University of Chicago Magazine.
On a day in early June, three girls sat face to face with tutors in the Math Lab, which they attend in addition to their normal math class.
They were working on division with unknown variables. “Number 23 is a little curveball but I bet you can do it,” Nichole Jannah, a recent college graduate, told her student.
Veronica, a freshman, started the year with a D in math. With daily help from a tutor, she finished the year with a high B.
Sarah, also a freshman, raised her math grade from a C to an A with the help of her tutor. “When I go into math class, I fly through work,” she said, snapping her fingers.
“Everything in education policy right now is about getting teachers to do a better job teaching grade-level material,” says Jens Ludwig, who co-directs UC’s Education Lab. But good algebra teaching can’t help students who haven’t mastered third-grade arithmetic.
Being able to successfully teach in the classroom involves years of practice and training in pedagogy and classroom management. . . . To get results as a tutor, he says, requires only knowledge of the material, good rapport with people, and commitment.
MATCH recruits recent college graduates — and a few career switchers — who are willing to work full time for $17,000 a year plus benefits.
Before the school got MATCH tutors in fall 2013, the first-year on-track rate — the percentage of freshman passing all their classes — was in the low 70s. Now 86 percent are on track to graduate.
CVCA was able to cancel its summer credit-recovery classes for failing students, writes Dukmasova. “Instead the school focused on offering higher-level math and honors courses.”