According to a recent Bark survey, 33 percent of Redwood students have only used paid professional tutoring services rather than peer tutoring, which is a free service provided by the school. But why is this?
A US Department of Education’s survey of U.S. high schools in 2017 claims that, “Academic tutoring may be an effective way to help students improve their academic skills, stay in school, and/or graduate from high school.” Redwood High School had a 98 percent graduation rate in 2019; do all these students really need the extra support or are parents and students too quick to jump to professional help?
Another study by TutorsNearMe, a site dedicated to finding tutors for students, analyzed over 34,000 private tutors in California and found that the state’s average price for a single session is $44.77 per hour. But in Marin County, organizations such as Compass Education Group charge $220 an hour, LifeWorks charges $150-250 per hour depending on the tutor and Swell Education Group charges $150-200 per hour. Does this price accurately reflect the quality of help students are receiving or is this an inflated number because of the demand of high achieving students in Marin County?
All of this may not come as a surprise to students, who generally see the prevalence and effect of professional tutoring first hand. Junior Natalie Pemberton started to get tutored her sophomore year during an especially difficult math class: Honors Precalculus.
“I was struggling with concepts in math that I felt like I wasn’t fully comprehending when the teacher was saying them, so I felt like I needed another person to explain them to me,” Natalie said.
Natalie stated tutoring helps open up time for homework and learning outside of class time.
“I now have a bit of structured time in the week to do homework [with a tutor], so I find that I spend a lot less time struggling with concepts and a lot more time quickly understanding. Then the whole week my homework takes less time,” Natalie said.
Now in Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus BC, considered to be the hardest math class offered at Redwood, Natalie appreciates the help from her tutor and believes it helped set her up for success. According to Natalie, the thought of using Redwood peer tutoring has never occurred to her.
Similarly, freshman Lina Ibrahim began tutoring for her math class this year with a paid Redwood senior who is not associated with the peer tutoring program and is not a professional.
“I needed homework help and more help understanding topics, and I wanted to be able to ask more questions [than I could in class],” Ibrahim said.
Ibrahim believes that her tutor has helped her stick to a schedule and get her work done on time.
“A tutor just helps me stay on track with everything. Having scheduled times to meet with them, I can’t put my homework aside to do it another time. I now have set times to do it and understand it,” Ibrahim said. “Tutoring has helped me keep a better schedule and stay more organized.”
Although these reasons are valid, both students said they were unaware of the free programs offered at school and felt that hiring a tutor fit their personal schedule better.