More than four months into a pilot project that provides online tutoring service for Knox County Schools students and Knox County library users, the service is being more heavily used than expected and is drawing rave reviews from students and their parents.
The Tennessee State Library and Archives launched the TutorTN program, which provides the tutoring sessions for students in the Knox County Schools or Knox County library users last September. Since that time, there have been more than 1,500 one-on-one tutoring sessions conducted for students from elementary school through college in a variety of subjects. Many students have also used TutorTN's skills center, which offers online resources that can help students prepare for their classes.
The program was launched in partnership with the Knox County Public Library system, the Knox County Schools and Tutor.com, the largest online tutoring service in the country. If successful, the program may be expanded to other parts of the state if sufficient funding can be found.
Usage data shows the service is being used most heavily by middle and high school students. About 88 percent of the sessions have covered science, technology, engineering and mathematics – the so-called STEM subjects considered necessary to help the United States remain a leader in the global economy as younger generations enter the workforce. Math has been a particular area of focus in the tutoring sessions.
"This experiment is working exactly as we hoped it would," Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. "Actually, it's been better than we hoped in the sense that usage has exceeded our expectations. And the input we have been getting from students and their parents has been overwhelmingly positive. This is a great service for students in Knox County and surrounding areas who are Knox County library users."
"I really love this online tutoring," one ninth-grade student said. "I have always needed a bit more help than others and have always felt shy about asking for help. Asking for help when everyone else around me seemed to have got it really made me feel stupid. Now with online tutoring, I don't feel stupid or needy. I know my grades are already going to be improving."
"TutorTN extends the learning day for our students in a personalized and effective way," said Dr. Jim McIntyre, superintendent of the Knox County Schools. "This unique resource supports the work of our classroom teachers and enhances student learning and achievement."
"We are very pleased with TutorTN," said Myretta Black, director of the Knox County Public Library. "It's wonderful to be able to refer students to a resource that will provide the in-depth help that they need. We are very good at providing resources, but TutorTN walks students through the process of understanding how to apply the information. This is a perfect partnership for libraries and schools."
To use TutorTN, students simply visit www.tutor.com/TutorTN and enter their library card numbers to connect with expert tutors. Students who do not have Knox County Public Library cards can use their Knox County Schools identification numbers.
Once students log onto the service, they select their grade levels and subjects they are studying. Students type in their questions or upload problems to share with their tutors. The tutors work with the students in online classrooms where they can text, use interactive whiteboards or share documents. Students who sign up for optional free accounts can share their sessions via e-mail and review them later.