Private and school-based tutoring programs are booming in the East Valley.
The increased expectations for students could be one reason so many schools and private firms are creating these programs, said Michael Cowan, assistant superintendent for curriculum services for the Mesa Unified School District.
"I think in the last five years there’s been an intensified focus on student achievement," he said.
Last year, Congress approved President Bush’s plan to require schools that receive federal Title 1 funds to spend some of the money on tutoring if they scored poorly. The Title 1 program is for poorer schools with a high number of students who qualify for free or reduced rate lunch based on family income.
Amy Shumway, district operations manager for three East Valley Sylvan Learning Centers, said she has seen a 25 percent growth annually in the past three years.
"Parents are much more involved," Shumway said. "Things are more competitive now and parents are just more proactive in looking for alternative educational solutions for their children other than what goes on in the classroom."
Sylvan has about 330 students at centers in Mesa, Gilbert and Ahwatukee Foothills.
Kumon Math and Reading Center has seen 98 percent growth in the East Valley since 1997, said spokeswoman Jenny Cherrytree. Usha Sundar has run a Kumon center in a Mesa church since 1995. Last year, she moved into her own building. She estimated she has 40 to 50 students.
"The parents want to see the students get ahead of their school, on top of their class. So there is a rapid need to train (students)," she said.
All four of Lee-Ann McCoy’s children have attended a Kumon center. She started when her oldest, now a senior at Mesa’s Mountain View High School, struggled with math basics in third and fourth grades. McCoy and her daughter would fight while doing flashcards at the dinner table. McCoy decided to let someone else take over.
Her daughter now takes college level math.
Lowell Elementary School principal Sandi Kuhn said there were no tutoring programs at her Mesa school when she started there four years ago.
Now the school offers tutoring for third and fifth graders in reading and writing and is starting a language program this semester for its 175 non-English speakers.
"I think that, especially for our second language learners, they need more academic support and some of the parents do not have the skills they need to assist them at home," Kuhn said.
A statewide voterapproved sales tax increase in November 2000 gave more money to public schools to provide these supplemental programs.