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Update on the “summer slide”: Students help other students through TN Tutoring Corps

Former Governor and First Lady Bill and Crissy Haslam launched the program at the start of the summer, and it's paying off.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — After launching the Tennessee Tutoring Corps at the start of summer, one of the student tutors helping an incoming first grader says he is making tangible gains.

“I can see that Noah is putting together his sounds and trying to form words,” said Sydney Johnson. The incoming University of Tennessee senior majoring in Linguistics and Hispanic studies has spent roughly 15 hours a week working with a couple of young students as part of the Tennessee Tutoring Corps.

“It is a reality particularly in reading and math that kids in particular slide backward in their learning over the summer, and so this is a way to combat that,” said former Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam back in May explaining why she and her husband, former Governor Bill Haslam, were launching the statewide tutoring effort. They recruited more than 600 tutors (short of the 1,000 goal) who have spent more than a month now working with almost 3,000 kindergarten through sixth grade students.  The tutors are paid up to $1,000 for roughly eight weeks of work.

“One of the things we want to see is, 'Do we make real gains?'” Bill Haslam said. “So, we’re going to measure students when they come and when they leave – and if they do, perhaps it becomes a pilot program that becomes an annual summer part of what we do to help kids.”

Tutor Sydney Johnson lost on of her students a few weeks into the program when they had to move to a different site for their sessions and that boy's mom decided to keep him home. But even before he left, Sydney says in just a couple of weeks working together thy had improved his ability to focus and stay on task.

“(It) encourages me that they’re ready to go on to first grade,” she said. 

The program is set to wrap up in mid-to-late August depending on when the elementary students head back to school.

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