HOMEWORK HELP PROGRAM
1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
The goal of the original grant was to improve the academic success of at-risk students, living within the El Rio Libraryís neighborhood area. This goal was derived from the well-documented premise that students who experience success in school are less likely to become involved in criminal and/or violent activities.
The program addresses homework and general study needs of youth by placing tutors and books that support school assignments in sites that are easily accessible to families and youth. The Homework Help centers operate during after-school hours. The operating schedule for each site is designed to meet the needs of the youth in that area. Sites are open two to four hours, one to three days per week
Improving studentsí academic success continues to be the major goal of this free drop-in Homework Help program. The objectives are to encourage and facilitate the completion of homework, develop good study skills, provide one-on-one instruction for youth in their own environment, and provide a good relationship with an adult. An experienced tutor who can assist students in all subjects, as well as be a positive role model, works at each site. Many times the tutors become informal mentors for the students.
Additionally, each site that is not located at a school or public library has a basic book collection to support assignments (e.g., encyclopedias, dictionaries, and almanacs). The majority of the Homework Help sites are collaborative efforts. The Tucson-Pima Public Library is responsible for providing the tutors (and materials, where needed) and the site management is responsible for the physical facility.
2. When was the program created and why?
The Homework Help program was developed by the Tucson-Pima Public Library (TPPL), in FY 94-95, with City of Tucson funds and matching funds for youth services allocated by Pima County as part of the Library District budget. The Homework Help centers were modeled on the successful pilot program at TPPLís El Rio Branch Library. The pilot program was funded for two years by mini-grants from RICO (Racketeering Influenced Corruption Organization) Anti-Racketeering funds distributed by the Pima County Attorney"s Office.
3. How do you measure the programís effectiveness?
In order to evaluate the program, surveys were sent or given to parents, students, educators, and the tutors. In addition, tutors write comments on attendance logs on a regular basis. The 1997-98 survey results showed:
Parents: 75% reported childrenís attitude toward school/homework improved
Students: 87% grades improved
Educators: 64% reported improvement in studentsí grades
Educators: 55% observed improvement in studentsí attitudes toward schoolwork
Tutors: 100% observed positive attitude changes in students
4. How is the program financed?
The program is financed through the Tucson-Pima Public Libraryís operating budget. The Library, a Department of the City of Tucson, is funded jointly by the Cityís general fund and the Pima County Free Library District tax. The program costs consist of the tutorís salaries, basic office supplies for the tutors and supplemental materials for student, such as, and basic research materials (e.g., encyclopedia, dictionary) for sites other than libraries.
5. How is the community involved in the programHow has the community responded to the program?
The Homework Help sites have been selected with input from students, parents, teachers and other school district representatives, law enforcement personnel, parks and recreation personnel, library staff, and social service agencies. Efforts are made to locate Homework Help centers equitably throughout the city and county at places where youth gather after school and in the early evenings. Sites include Boys and Girls Clubs, libraries, schools, neighborhood centers, City of Tucson Parks and Recreation centers and Pima County Recreation centers. The program has grown to more than forty sites.
The program has been well received by parents, students and teachers, all of who recognize the important role academic success plays in the lives of youth.
A local television station has broadcast information about the Homework Help program on their parent/teacher hotline for two years. Because of the favorable response from parents, the same station produced a series of public service announcements about the many resources and services available at the public library. These are underwritten by the Arizona Dairy Council and air during prime time viewing hours.
6. What are the major lessons learned from the program?
A) The interviewing and selection of tutors is critically important to the programís success.
1) Selection of tutors who can identify with the students at a given location. For example, it is important for Spanish-speaking tutors to work in a largely Latino neighborhood.
2) Ascertain that the tutors have the academic necessary skills. For example, at the high school level, a large percentage of students are likely to need help with math, whereas at the elementary school level, a large percentage of students need help with reading.
3) Look for experience in working with groups of children. A drop-in program is very different from one-to-one tutoring, because of the group dynamics and the challenges of keeping a large group of children of different ages directed on-task.
B) Protect childrenís safety by requiring background checks on tutors. The Tucson-Pima Public Library does this with the cooperation and support of the Tucson Police Department, which facilitates the process of fingerprinting the tutors who are hired for the program.
C) Provide tutors with materials to use when the students have completed their assignments but are not ready to leave. For example, flash cards for pairs of students to use; books for recreational reading; extra math problems, etc.
D) At minimum, conduct an orientation program and a mid-year in-service training program for all the tutors. The tutors welcome the opportunity to share their experiences, concerns, and ideas.
7. Contact person:
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.