A new tutoring program was a silver lining for students and their families during the pandemic.
132,000 students. 208 schools. One pandemic that sent everyone home for remote learning.
Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) is the second-largest district in Maryland, and in 2020, Dr. Michelle Dyson, Mathematics Instructional Supervisor, had the gargantuan task of keeping all students on track in their math learning.
The solution? A brand-new, customized online tutoring program that students are still benefiting from two years later.
A Math Tutoring Solution to Meet ALL Students
Dyson knew that the math learning solution offered would need to support students, their families, and their teachers academically and emotionally.
“During this pandemic, we had to learn how to ensure that we were reaching all of our students,” says Dyson in a webinar, "Effectively Addressing COVID Equity Challenges."
The opportunity to do this came when PGCPS received federal funding to support tutoring services.
Customized Tutoring for Personalized Support
“We received a CARES ACT tutoring program grant,” explains Dyson, “and when I was presented with the opportunity to select a program for our students, I wanted to make sure we gave them access to not just more asynchronous, technology-based teaching, but interaction with real, live tutors.”
PGCPS has partnered with Carnegie Learning since 2014 to use its math solution for select high school and middle school students, so Dyson reached out to Courtney Lewis, Director of Professional Learning, about the possibility of virtual tutoring services.
“We hadn’t offered live tutoring services before–only through our MATHia software that provides AI-assisted 1-on-1 tutoring–but when the need came up, we said absolutely, this is what students and teachers need right now, so let’s make it happen,” shares Lewis.
In September 2020, PGCPS launched an online math tutoring program for middle school students, which opened up to high school students in January 2021. Students signed up for tutoring in fifteen-minute increments (booking back-to-back sessions if needed), and received individualized instruction to supplement classroom time. Since the program started, more than 3,000 middle and high school students have scheduled tutoring sessions.
Math Tutoring That Goes Beyond Homework Help
Students have had positive experiences through the online tutoring program, largely because many of the tutors are current or former math teachers who can facilitate continuous math learning and supplement the excellent work of classroom teachers.
It was essential to both Dyson and Lewis that tutors had deep content knowledge and instructional experience so they could teach concepts accessibly.
“A lot of times, kids will act like they don’t know why they need tutoring,” says Dyson. “Or they’ll just say ‘my parents are making me do this,’ so it’s important to have teachers who understand precisely what students should be learning at their grade level and present those concepts clearly while monitoring for understanding.”
Students are quick to identify how tutoring has helped them achieve their math goals. “Tutoring has helped me build more confidence on skills I was not comfortable with before,” reports one high-schooler from PGCPS. “I am more prepared for classes and independent assignments,” says another student.
Data-Driven Improvements That Support Students and Teachers
Dyson notes that once tutoring got underway in PGCPS, she and Lewis could examine data to look at student success rates and make tweaks that benefited students and tutors.
When Friday afternoon sessions were going unbooked, for instance, those time slots moved to Saturday afternoons. Similarly, when students weren’t showing up on Wednesdays, Dyson and Lewis identified why and changed the individual sessions to group sessions so that students, who were learning asynchronously, could remind each other to show up.
Teachers also benefited from the data. If a large portion of students in a particular grade needed extra help with fractions or ratios, for example, teachers received this feedback and adjusted their lessons accordingly.
High Parent Satisfaction with Math Tutoring
So, the million-dollar question: Did tutoring in PGCPS drive engagement and improve student outcomes? Yes, according to the parents of students involved in the tutoring program.
95% of parents rated the tutoring program as excellent, very good, or good. They generally said the sessions were easy to schedule, concepts were presented understandably, and the tutors were true math experts.
“I've seen my child grow from hating math to gaining new confidence to complete assignments and testing,” shares one happy parent of a PGCPS high school student. “Grades have significantly improved and my child consistently gets an almost perfect score on every assignment now. I watched my child drastically change from just turning in something for a grade to applying his best to every problem.”
The Future Is Bright for Math Tutoring Success
We are so proud of the important work PGCPS have done in connecting their students to math tutors, and we’re honored to be part of the process.
What’s even more exciting is that high-quality math tutoring can have the same impact in other districts that it’s had in Prince George’s County.
Learn more about how our tutoring services will provide your students with highly qualified, caring math experts who will help every student see that they can be a math person too.
Carnegie Learning is shaping the future of education. Born from more than 30 years of learning science research at Carnegie Mellon University, the company has become a recognized leader in the ed tech space, using artificial intelligence, formative assessment, and adaptive learning to deliver groundbreaking solutions to education’s toughest challenges. With the highest quality offerings for K-12 math, ELA, literacy, world languages, professional learning and more, Carnegie Learning is changing the way we think about education, and creating powerful results for teachers and students alike.Explore more related to this author
“Tutoring has helped me build more confidence on skills I was not comfortable with before.”
High school student, Prince George's County, Maryland