Evanston/Skokie School District 65 will create Academic Skills Centers (ASCs) at 16 of its schools to provide focused, small group tutoring sessions three to five times per week for students to address unfinished learning from previous years.

Sessions will address gaps in students’ math or literacy/language arts learning with added support for executive functioning skills. The goal is for students to then access grade level learning within their classrooms following the 10-12 week tutoring program.

“The research is clear that high dosage tutoring is one the most effective ways to support students to address learning gaps while also enabling them to access grade-level learning in math and literacy,” said Dr. Devon Horton, Superintendent of District 65.

Students will engage in tutoring during the school day during a non-core learning period. Core is defined as literacy, math, science and social studies.

Much of the tutoring in elementary schools will occur within the school’s acceleration blocks, where students will receive and pursue individualized academic needs via small group instruction. Since the small group tutoring is aligned with the format and goals of the acceleration block, parents will simply be notified if their child will be included in the ASC high-dosage tutoring program. 

Middle school students who fit the academic profile will participate during a quarter-year rotation from one of their “specials” classes (either art, drama, media arts or music) or, possibly, physical education class if the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) approves a special waiver. District 65 is holding a public hearing on the waiver request at their July 29 School Board Meeting and will file an application to the ISBE for consideration soon afterwards. “Having PE as an optional tutoring time for students, parents and principals provides greater choice and flexibility as they consider if and when tutoring will best work for the child,” Dr. Horton explained.

All parents will be given the option for their child to not participate in the tutoring initiative and to remain in their specials class or PE. “We want to make sure that families and students understand that they have a choice. While missing an art, music, or physical education class for a quarter is never ideal, the opportunity to reach grade level performance in reading and/or math class has a real chance to change a student’s lifetime academic trajectory,” says Dr. Stacy Beardsley, District 65’s Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction.

“We know that students who are at grade level and feel successful in a subject more readily participate and engage in their classrooms,” Dr. Beardsley continued. “And the opposite is true as well. So, this is a critical time, as we go back to in-person education, to support these students to achieve grade-level success in math and/or literacy.”

The District will use the iReady curriculum, created specifically to support tutors and students to work on skills and accelerate growth via mini-lessons, practice and re-teaching. The District believes that the small group sessions for 30 to 40 minutes a day with a consistent, trained tutor will meet the individual needs of students and motivate them to persist in building their skills.

District 65 is currently seeking to fill over 60 year-long, part-time tutoring positions. More information about applying to be an ASC Tutor is on the District’s website at Online Employment Application | Open Positions.

For more information, contact Kirby Callam at (847) 859-8059 or callamk@district65.net.

Submitted by Evanston/Skokie School District 65