The National Center for Education Statistics recently revealed in their annual report card that for the first time in 19 years, overall fourth grade math scores have shown no improvement while eighth graders had a modest two point increase. Disappointing news that received national and local press coverage.
At Tutor.com we help thousands of kids with math homework and math concepts. Fourth grade math is important. This is when students begin to master fundamental math skills that they’ll use for the rest of their academic career. During the 2008-2009 school year our tutors completed more than 16,500 one-to-one tutoring sessions with fourth grade students and 64% of these sessions were in math. The most frequently asked questions included topics such as division, odd and even numbers, adding and subtracting decimals and fractions, and writing mathematical expression and patterns. Many of these topics can be found on the NAEP exam.
Why are kids turning to online tutoring? Here’s the key reasons we see in students’ comments and from our tutors’ observations:
- The Online Whiteboard – for many of the kids seeing their problem drawn in real-time on the whiteboard (in color!) makes a big difference in how they relate and engage with the material.
- Smiley Faces – our tutors know that all students, but especially younger ones need lots of positive reinforcement. We do this online by using emoticons, letting the kids know at each step what a great job they are doing and encouraging them to keep up the good work.
- Pacing – students get to work at their own pace taking as long as they need to understand the concept at hand. And, they’re not embarrassed to ask a question or admit they “don’t get it”.
- Resources – in addition to tutoring, we offer peer-reviewed, tutor-approved resources. Our Elementary Math materials are used the most.
After a recent session a fourth grader left this comment “it was great. I think I am smarter.” All of our kids need to be “smarter” when it comes to math. Let’s help them get there.