The average Palo Alto High School student has many options when seeking tutoring in a given subject. Professional classes and tutors, as well as free teacher and student tutoring through the Academic Resource Center (ARC), are readily available.
However, to socioeconomically disadvantaged students, high-quality tutoring resources are limited. Popular tutoring businesses like AJ Tutoring cost around $65 an hour, making them impractical for low-income families.
Many teachers offer to meet with students after school or during Flex sessions, but one-on-one sessions are rare as teachers must accommodate a large number of students, which diverts their attention and time.
The best solution Paly currently offers to socioeconomically disadvantaged students is free student tutoring through the ARC. Paly students competent in a particular subject can apply to be a tutors through the ARC by filling out an application form and testing for subject proficiency. If selected, these students can tutor others.
The problem occurs when a student’s schedule conflicts with that of the ARC program. Tutoring is available from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with the exception of Fridays, when it ends at 2 p.m. For students who play a sport or lack coinciding preps, this creates scheduling conflicts that makes it difficult to receive help.
Additionally, while student tutors are well-intentioned and often knowledgeable in their respective subject, their actual teaching skills may vary. Though a student may demonstrate competency in a given subject, they may not possess the ability to adapt to another student’s learning styles and teach material accordingly — an area professional tutors are trained in.
However, students of higher socioeconomic status can afford to pay for high-quality, professional tutoring appointments at convenient times, giving them an unfair advantage over students who cannot afford such tutors. This causes a discrepancy that contributes to the achievement gap The Campanile has already detailed in a previous editorial, wherein resources and time are focused on the highest performing students while disadvantaged students are neglected.
The Campanile’s solution is for Paly to create a partnership with professional tutoring services in order to give low-income students the opportunity to receive the highest caliber of assistance available. This would help to eliminate the educational advantages awarded to students of higher socioeconomic standings.
Disadvantaged students would fill out a form detailing their scheduling and cost difficulties, and the ARC would partner students with professional tutors. Students could then make appointments during times convenient to them. In this way, struggling students could catch back up to the class with high-quality individual tutoring, subsidized by Paly, during times customized to their schedule. This subsequently benefits tutoring companies, offering exposure for new or lesser-known companies by introducing them to Paly students.
Due to the clear benefits presented to more financially-secure students who are able to take advantage of external tutoring services, The Campanile thinks Paly should aid disadvantaged students seeking professional tutoring options to alleviate discrepancies in academic performance and help bridge the achievement gap.