Title I Funds Tutoring Academy, EOC Test Prep at Chamblee

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Title I Funds Tutoring Academy, EOC Test Prep at Chamblee

Photo by Ashley Veazey

Photo by Ashley Veazey

Photo by Ashley Veazey

Iris Tsouris, Staff writer

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Beginning January 14, science teacher Shaheen Begum, along with assistant principal Milton Hall, implemented Chamblee’s Title I funds in the form of an “after-school enrichment academy” specifically targeted towards helping low-income students pass the Georgia Milestones End of Course (EOC) Assessments.

“[Title I After-School Enrichment Academy] will start after the contract hours, which are 3:35 to 4:45. It runs Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday every afternoon,” said Begum. “Because the EOC is 20% of the overall grade and it’s that far at the end of the year, we want to make sure [students] are well equipped with all the skills so that they can do really well, and we can monitor their progress throughout the semester.”

The program’s after school tutorial schedule.

A part of the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, Title I is a federal aid program that aims to assist public schools with high percentages of low-income students. On account of redistricting at the county level, Chamblee Charter High School has recently joined the over 55,000 American schools with Title I status.

“Based on the student population, the schools are identified as Title I,” said Begum. “It’s all based on the low-income group students; the federal aid programs provide money as an incentive to help with the education of those students.”

The academy’s focus is currently on English, math, and science courses, although Begum notes that a social studies tutoring program is underway. With the academy’s limited seating, however, Begum also has devised a selection process to make sure that enrollment is purely need-based.

“The first priority is being given again to those students involved in those EOC courses. There has been an intent letter being sent out for parents to enroll them,” said Begum. “But meanwhile, in the background, I send out… [to the] core class department chairs an email to request a list of those students who failed [an EOC course] first semester.”

Teacher recommendations, previous report cards, and retention history also play a role in determining student enrollment.

Along with the student selection process, a team of highly qualified instructors is also chosen to tutor the students attending the academy, one of them being math teacher Nathaniel Berryman.

“I’ve taught summer school first for six or seven years before I did tutoring [for the Title I academy],” said Berryman. “But my experience with tutoring goes all the way back to college.”

Berryman, who specifically used to tutor student-athletes as a college student, finds that the Title I sessions are no different.

“[Tutoring] is just informative assessment,” he said. “You just ask the students, ‘Hey, what are you working on in class?’ As a teacher or educator, you can understand what they’re struggling with, and you go from there.”

Title I tutors are not only expected to be knowledgeable in their subject areas, but in ensuring student growth as well.

“We’re going to be giving pre-tests here pretty soon,” said Berryman. “Then, we’re going to do benchmarks to see where the progression is going and where we need to actually make some improvements.”

In addition to providing compensation for tutors, Begum is also using Chamblee’s Title I funds to expand the academy in a different direction, specifically by introducing a transportation system to run until the EOC test dates in April, which is when the academy ends.

“Again, these are the students who need that additional support,” said Begum “Financially, they are not summed enough to be able to provide [transportation] to themselves, so at least if not buses going to their house, satellite locations at which they can be dropped off [can be provided], so that would still help them be able to attend the tutorials to gain the additional help.”

On top of that, the tutoring schedule is also made to be as flexible as possible.

“It’s needs-based. There’s no specific rigorous schedule; [the students] just come in when they need it,” said Berryman. “It is also free to the students.”

This additional support, whether it be in the form of tutoring or transportation, is what Begum believes can lead Title I After-School Academy attendants to the path of success. Helping students pass a Georgia Milestone EOC Assessment is only the beginning to what the Title I funds aim to accomplish.

“We plan on having a very strong team building of the tutors with the classroom teachers so that we can directly impact the growth of the students who are attending this,” said Begum. “I definitely envision that this will help the students who don’t get as much attention at home.”