Some educators leading below the surface make it their mission to help these students improve academic performance. The math teachers at a rural middle school created an afternoon tutoring program on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Students were required to sign up for the tutoring prior to attending and parents were required to document how the student would be getting home. Tutoring was offered to all students, but the math teachers targeted some students that showed a need improvement of basic math skills. Student data was used from a variety of sources to create the student list. Parents of students with the greatest need were contacted by mail regarding the program and followed up with a phone call.
The math teachers worked together to create sessions that included math manipulative, computer programs, and small group instruction. Knowing the students would be hungry after school, they asked parents to bring in snacks for those staying after school. The Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) was asked to provide gift certificates to be used in a drawing at the end of the program.
The tutoring program was very successful with over thirty students participating. The math scores were the best in years. Many students who failed the Standard of Learning math test in the past developed math skills that enabled them to pass the current math test.
While the NCLB has created its long list of challenges for school systems across the country, one of the main benefits of it is that school systems everywhere are paying attention to those students who are considered to be "below the surface": students with disabilities, children of color, limited English speaking students. At risk students are identified before the school year starts. Those students are conscientiously placed with the teachers who best match their learning styles. Their progress is closely tracked during the year and instead of quietly falling through the cracks, they are pulled out of electives or gym once or twice a week for remediation. This made a tremendous difference with Standards of Learning scores. This is what accountability is all about.