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The Campanile

Expansion of Academic Resource Center would be beneficial to students

Tucked away in Palo Alto High School’s expansive library building lies the modestly-sized Academic Resource Center (ARC) — a place in which students can engage in peer-on-peer tutoring, study in a quiet environment or borrow textbooks. Those seeking tutelage in a specific course may come to the ARC and request a tutor, who typically will have taken said course or have experience with the course curriculum.

ARC tutoring is especially attractive as tutors may receive extra credit or community service hours and tutees receive individual instruction at no charge. It is a powerful resource and remains the first line of academic assistance outside of class for many students.

Additionally, the ARC provides a wide variety of textbooks without the library’s generally bustling tenor, allowing students who prefer to work in silence a locale at which to do so.

Beyond its more immediate benefits, ARC tutoring is also one of the biggest promoters of peer learning — a strategy which has been endorsed by the Single Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA) — at Paly. In fact, the SPSA specifically names the ARC, referring to the center as “creating a culture of students helping students.”

However, despite its popularity and alignment with the educational goals outlined in the SPSA, the ARC remains located in one of the smallest divisions of the library building. In addition, it is only staffed with one supervisor at any given moment, precluding tutors from tutoring in the library. It is difficult to establish tutoring sessions during particularly popular tutoring time windows — namely Tuesdays and Thursdays at lunch, as well as Tutorial — as the limited space and seating in the ARC fills up quickly. Not to mention, the quality of tutoring decreases as more distractions and outside sources start to interfere. Since the ARC has such a positive impact on Paly’s academics, The Campanile believes that measures need to be taken by the administration in order to maximize this impact.

The ARC is irrationally small considering the services it provides. Expansion to another room within the library and addition of another supervisor would prove extremely beneficial for students and supervisors alike. This expansion is extremely feasible, especially considering that the room which was previously the English Resource Center has no specific designation, is seldom used and could easily be repurposed in order to become another useful branch of the ARC.

The extra supervisor would help  also help by improving tutoring logistics to make scheduling more convenient for the staff of the ARC, and the larger venue would allow tutors and tutees ample opportunity to meet in the Center.

Paly’s administration should recognize how large of a contribution the ARC makes to student achievement and school climate and expand it accordingly. With increased staffing and size, the center could easily accommodate more beneficiaries while simultaneously ameliorating Paly’s atmosphere.

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