Q: What is the Alexandria Tutoring Consortium (ATC)?
A: The ATC is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that recruits and trains volunteers to tutor basic reading skills to kindergarten and first grade public school students who are struggling in reading. ATC’s goal is to ensure that all its students are able to read at or above grade level by the end of first grade. In recruiting tutors and raising funds, the ATC partners with the Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS), Alexandria’s faith community, local businesses, and community organizations. Volunteer tutors receive training and weekly guidance, and they tutor one or two 30- to 45-minute sessions a week during regular school hours. Tutors report high satisfaction with their tutoring, proud to be working one-on-one to give a child a strong foundation in reading.
Q: How does one apply to become a tutor?
A: Prospective tutors can go to the ATC’s website, www.alexandriatutors.org, and fill out the registration form. The form includes a link to the ACPS Volunteer Application, which initiates a background check. Once that check is completed the volunteer is ready for training and assignment to a school. Volunteer tutors can often be assigned to the school of their choice among the nine schools ATC currently serves. Tutoring begins in late October and concludes in late May, keeping step with the school calendar on holidays, vacations, and school closings (such as for snow days).
Q: Which schools are served?
A: For the 2018-9 school year, ATC will offer its Book Buddies program to kindergarten students at William Ramsay, and to first graders at John Adams, Charles Barrett, Cora Kelly, Lyles-Crouch, Matthew Maury, James Polk, and Samuel Tucker elementary schools. Reading Readiness tutors will work with kindergartners at John Adams and Patrick Henry.
Q: What kind of tutoring does ATC provide?
A: ATC’s flagship program, Book Buddies, is a structured, peer-reviewed tutoring program developed at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education. Students selected for tutoring do not have reading disabilities, but have scored relatively low on Virginia’s standard reading test, the Phonological Awareness and Literacy Screening (PALS) test. Tutors receive training in the Book Buddies program before they start tutoring and receive periodic refresher training throughout the school year. Reading or educational specialists coordinate all aspects of the program, which includes providing tutors with detailed lesson plans plus books and materials that are tailored to the individual student’s reading level. ATC has a similar program for kindergartners called Reading Readiness, which is designed to help children who start school without sufficient pre-literacy skills. Trained volunteers work one-on-one with kindergartners to teach the alphabet by using pictures and sounds associated with letters, and by tracing letters and playing word games.
Q: What is ATC’s commitment to each child?
A: In both programs, Reading Readiness and Book Buddies, ATC commits to tutoring each child for two sessions each week. Each session lasts 30-45 minutes depending on the school, with the goal of tutoring each child a minimum of 20 hours by the end of the school year. Most volunteers tutor twice a week, but some tutor once a week, partnering with a colleague who tutors the second session. On occasions when volunteers are unable to tutor, they arrange with a colleague to tutor for them.
Q: How can I tell if I am helping my student?
A: Each school has a trained reading or education specialist who oversees the tutoring program. The specialist writes the lesson plans, maintains a dialogue with tutors on how each child is doing, and shares the results of periodic testing that identifies areas where the child needs more help with tutors. One of the strengths of this program — and what sets it apart from most tutoring programs — is that it is tailored to the individual student, meeting each individual child’s needs through a warm and supportive one-on-one relationship with a tutor. The tutor is often the first to know how the child is doing and what help is needed.
Q: How do I sign up?
A: Information and an on-line application are available at www.alexandriatutors.org. For questions or help, please contact Lisa Jacobs, ATC Program Director, at email@example.com or (703) 549-6670, ext.119.