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Plum to weigh options for types of tutoring programs

| Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Plum School Board member Sal Colella said he is pleased with students' academic strides.

Colella, though, wants to give students opportunities for increased performance and sees a tutoring program as one of the strategies.

“We could start with the elementary (students),” Colella said during last week's education-committee meeting.

Colella's comments came after Assistant Superintendent Guy Rossi's presentation on options for a tutoring program.

Rossi said the district could look at tutoring in two ways — giving students assistance with homework or providing remediation.

Rossi said providing remediation, which would be a more intense form of help, would be more challenging to implement.

Rossi said some other challenges of a tutoring program in general would be things the district couldn't control: student and tutor participation, recruitment and retention of tutors, training of tutors and the wide range of grade spans for which tutors would be needed.

The assistant superintendent also told education-committee members that district officials would need to take several factors into consideration if the board decided to go forward with a tutoring program.

Some of the factors would be: clearly defining the criteria and process, surveying teachers to find out their ideas and potential interest in being a part of the program, not replicating the school day, providing at least 90 minutes of tutoring a week, having a low student-to-tutor ratio and figuring out transportation options for students who would stay after school for tutoring.

Rossi said district officials also would need to monitor the progress of a tutoring program and have measures in place to supervise tutors.

Board President Andrew Drake suggested district officials consider community members as volunteer tutors.

Rossi said if community members were considered, district officials would need to determine the amount of time volunteers could devote. Also volunteers would need to obtain background checks.

The assistant superintendent estimates that if 100 students were in a tutoring program that focuses on remediation that 33 tutors would be needed with three students to one tutor. He estimates the cost at $58,806.

With 150 students in an assignment-assistance tutoring program, Rossi estimates 20 tutors would be needed at a cost of $35,640.

Colella said students who would benefit from tutoring could be identified through analysis of their performance on state tests.

Colella suggests district officials next speak with teachers in the elementary buildings to determine if the teachers are interested in serving as tutors.

Colella further said teachers can help put together a list of potential students who would benefit from tutoring.

“They can identify students,” Colella said.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8753 or kzapf@tribweb.com.

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