Pilot math support program increases student comprehension

China Granger

Last Tuesday was the first time sophomore Iman Razavi and Brandon Radu went to the tutoring session run by Mrs. Crabtree
Last Tuesday was the first time sophomore Iman Razavi and Brandon Radu went to a tutoring session run by Mrs. Crabtree.

In response to the administration’s decision to no longer offer Geometry A, a new tutoring program provided by the math department this year has not only helped some students improve their grades, but also given them a greater understanding of how to approach math problems, according to the teachers running the program.

About three weeks after the start of school, the program began its twice-weekly tutoring sessions, at no cost to students. For one hour after school on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, math teachers Jessica Crabtree and Lovelyn Sugi-Louie have been helping anywhere from two to 10 students complete their homework and develop a greater comprehension of the material.

“By coming every week, [the students] are changing how they practice math,” Crabtree said. “The one-on-one has taught them how to approach their homework in a way where they learn the most.”

Because the school is no longer offering its lowest level geometry class, administrators asked that the math department develop new ways to support students.

“We were asked to create an intervention for students who struggled in algebra and geometry,” Crabtree said. “It was the entire math department trying to come up with ways to support the students.”

The after-school program and the extra hours of pay for teachers was one of several ideas that were brought to administrators by the department’s support director, Julie Norwood, but it was the only idea approved.

Crabtree said that she guides students as they work, helping them tackle certain problems and checking their work for correctness, as well as writing new problems in order to give students more individualized practice.

“What makes it different is because the kids are here only for math and it’s staffed by math teachers,” Crabtree said.

According to Crabtree, the students who have come every week have seen definite improvements in math.

After about five weeks of tutoring from both Crabtree and Sugi-Louie, freshman Sylvana Perczek said that although she is not historically strong in math, she has since gotten perfect scores on two of her math tests.

Signs posted in the math hallway have been alerting students to the new program
Signs posted in the math hallway have been alerting students to the new program

“Math tutoring turns [grades] around,” Perczek said, recalling that her teacher Heather Curtaz had called her dad to tell him the first time she got a perfect score.

Before the program, students who needed extra help in math might have had to dedicate a period of their day to academic workshop, according to Sugie-Louie.

Algebra and geometry teachers have been informing students of the program, and there are also signs posted in the hallways.

Math teachers have since been trying to determine whether or not the program is sustainable and meets the needs of enough students to justify its funding, according to Crabtree.

“We’ve already evaluated it once and we’ll continue to evaluate it to see if it’s proving to be effective,” Crabtree said.