Sporting headphones, Summit Academy Akron Elementary School third grader Dominic grins and nods at a laptop screen as he engages with a tutor working with him virtually, in real time. Instructional Coach Lindsey Durbin says Dominic finds his tutoring sessions so enjoyable that he wishes they extended beyond their typical 30 minutes. Dominic is one of about 320 Summit Academy first- to fifth-graders receiving free English Language Arts tutoring courtesy of the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce (DEW).
After a competitive application process, seven Summit Academy elementary schools were awarded tutoring seats, according to Curriculum Administrator Jessica Hahn. The number of seats per school ranges from 20 to 65. At Akron Elementary, 20 students occupy seats at a given time. “Schools are able to, in response to data, move students out of tutoring and use the newly available ‘seats’ for another student to get tutoring,” Hahn explains.
Provided three or more days a week for a half-hour or more each day, the high-dosage, intensive instruction aligns with core content, Hahn says. “It happens during the school day and is in addition to tier one, or core, instruction so no one is pulled from their core instruction for tutoring,” she explains.
Students at Akron Elementary who were selected for the live tutoring, provided by Amplify, are typically on the cusp of an instruction tier, explains Durbin.
“Outside of the mid-year assessment, which will take place later this week, we already have an idea that the students are doing well with the program,” says Durbin. “Our students are really loving it and they are more engaged than we thought they would be.”
Durbin says she has seen her students blossom, gaining confidence in their academic potential and even their computer skills as they navigate through prompts such as minimizing their screens and turning on microphones.
Inside the Akron Elementary classroom where Dominic and his peers receive tutoring, Instructional Aide Cathy Osborne facilitates the sessions, ensuring headsets work, assisting students with opening links and the like. Concurrently, the teacher leads the classroom lesson without interference.
Osborne says the tutoring helps students build their communication skills as they converse with their tutors, learn to listen and take turns in a discussion. “The students are engaging so well with their tutors,” she says.
Summit Academy has partnered with Amplify for the tutoring. Vetted and approved by the DEW, Amplify created the science of reading curriculum used by Summit Academy Schools. “That means the tutors are using the same intervention lessons and progress monitoring platforms that our classrooms are already using,” Hahn says. “Not only are the lessons aligned to our current instruction, but the data collected by tutors is available to Summit staff to analyze.”
Overall, the tutoring, which began near the start of the school year, is a huge perk for Summit Academy Schools and their students, says Hahn.
“It’s an incredible opportunity for our buildings to have additional highly trained professionals provide effective interventions in reading to close learning gaps,” she says. “I’m excited to see how much progress our students make.”
In addition to Akron, Summit Academy elementary schools in Cincinnati, Dayton, Lorain, Middletown, Parma and Xenia also are receiving the free tutoring.