Tutoring Needs Are Met in the Chicago Schools

Written by Patricia Hawke for Schools K-12

One of the biggest problems across our nation is large classrooms and too many students falling behind in their education. There are too few teachers for individualized instruction, and generally those parents of children who fall behind cannot afford private tutoring. They personally cannot tutor their own children, in most cases, because they either lack sufficient education themselves or are too busy — sometimes working two and three jobs to support their family.

In the fall of 2005, the Chicago schools got the help they needed in this area from the United Stated Department of Education that now underwrites the new Chicago schools A.I.M. High! program. (A.I.M. means Advancing Individual Mastery.)  The program gives supplemental tutoring services after-school to low-performing students, who attend Chicago schools that have not met adequate yearly progress for three consecutive years under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.

The tutoring is held in the child’s school at no cost, covering Chicago schools students in grades one through twelve. There are a maximum of 15 students for each tutoring class, and a maximum of 20 weeks of instruction per student, including 60 to 80 hours in reading and math. Tutoring teachers receive professional development and are both highly qualified and certified. Tutors are familiar with each student’s particular needs, using an individualized tutoring plan that specifies achievement objectives for each student with timetables. Nationally recognized instructional tutoring materials are used by these Chicago schools tutors.  Children with special needs receive special accommodations.

According to Chicago schools Superintendent Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings cut through the red tape and bureaucracy to make the tutoring program happen. Duncan expressed his appreciation to Spellings at a special ceremony in 2005, which was attended by the Secretary, Mayor Richard Daley, Senator Dick Durbin, Senator Mike Enzi, Congressman Danny David, Congressman Bobby Rush, and other city and Chicago schools officials.

Though such assistance was promised by NCLB, this extra assistance from Spellings for the Chicago schools means a win-win situation for the schools, the educators, the community, the parents, and especially for the Chicago schools students.  Spellings noted that A.I.M. High! will make a huge difference for Chicago schools students in their futures — meaning there may be an opportunity to continue on to college and knowing that they will be prepared to enter the workforce with sufficient skills to be successful.

Both the Chicago schools and Spellings see this as a new opportunity for the U.S. Department of Education and school districts across the nation to work together to help students succeed in life. It is definitely a win-win situation for all concerned.