Whether you are a proponent or critic, the Common Core State Standards adopted by majority of the states will pose some key challenges and benefits concurrently. With the shift of nationalizing what students learn in the classroom according to a set of standards for mathematics and English language arts, educators, parents, and students will be faced with a daunting task to collaborate, connect, and engage strategically.
Particularly, the national push would expect parents to be informed about a list expected student sets of skills and knowledge for each grade level, thus promoting parent involvement in his or her child’s learning. Such expectations may trigger parents to find supplemental or additional academic support for their kids, particularly tutoring programs and services. Good news, perhaps, for tutors and tutoring services who were just negatively impacted by the NCLB waivers.
The NCLB waivers provided discretionary control on supplemental funding, such as after-school tutoring programs for many local districts and schools. As a result, some schools decided not to continue with supplemental educational services or SES tutoring providers, but instead, use state funding to sustain or implementt other enrichment programs and services, such as professional development for teachers. With billions of dollars invested on Common Core professional development training, for instance, many districts and schools chose to invest on teacher training and classroom materials instead.
On the other hand, there are also recent trends impacting tutoring services to meet the demands of the Common Core standards. These trends focus on new strategies and innovation to support students. Similar to the Common Core shift in enabling collaboration within school community to deliver a range of tools and policies, including development of “aligned” textbooks, digital media and other teaching materials and resources, so, too, are tutoring providers and programs. Just like how schools are expected to develop and implement comprehensive assessment systems to measure student performance that replace state’s existing testing systems, tutoring companies are also redesigning or creating new assessement tools to measure student progress and performance to ensure alignment with the core standards.
So, what are these significant impacts on tutoring providers and tutors directly and indirectly as a result of the Common Core adoption? To evaluate these impact, it is important to understand that tutors are prompted to adopt the Common Core standards and implement these changes in their strategies when engaging with students, designing their curriculum, and developing innovative tools and resources.
1. More and more tutoring services and providers are required to obtain formal training and participate in professional devleopment to refocus their teaching strategies with the new standards. Training modules are being modified and new teaching techniques are being explored and implemented to meet the core expectations in order to deliver quality and rigorous curriculum.
2. The emphasis on parents as being more involved in their child's learning would mean parents working not only with teachers, but also with the tutors. Tutors are expected to communicate more with the parents on progress, meeting specific core set of skills at each grade level, and provide more feedback to students and families. Because tutors serve as an additional academic support outside of regular classroom instruction, especially for students underperforming, parents are expected to work with the teachers as well as their tutors to ensure the students are meeting all key benchmarks and expectations
3. In the recent years, more tutoring providers and services are utilizing new digital learning tools, implementing online resources and revamping their delivery models. In recent articles I wrote, I highlighted an explosion of online tutoring companies providing 24/7 online classes, media support, and digital resources. Tutoring services go beyond homework help, test preparation for SAT or ACT. Some even propose "Common Core" aligned products and educatioanl strategies or software tools to support student success and achievement. This is fairly a new tutoring approach since face-to-face tutoring sessions are the common delivery of service, but with the digital learning tools now available, this new free market has created new products, strategies, and services.
4. While students are being prepared to possess 21s century skills to meet the demands of the global marketplace, most schools are focused in helping students be college and career ready. Though some tutoring services and tutors promote college and career readiness in their sessions, directly or indirectly, tutors are also adopting similar goals and focus as regular teachers. Whether families elect to have a paid tutoring services or enroll their children in SES tutoring programs, tutors are also communicating with students about future planning to enter post-secondary education or career training. In some studies, tutoring providers aim to ensure students not only learn the academic content, develop critical set of skills, but also empower students to take ownership of their future by undertaking challenging courses or developing skills that would help pave way for personal growth and positive future.
Surely, there are many other important effects of the Common Core on tutoring programs and services, but these are the most evident examples.
While the nation embarks on this endeavor to support student success and academic achievement, one thing is certainly clear - preparation is the key. Parents, students, teachers and tutors alike are in a journey to ensure today's youth are provided quality education that would help them have a positive and successful future beyond classroom.
If preparation is the key, collaboration among school community is also a goal necessary to move this nation.