More than 150 Oklahoma teachers and college students are earning extra money by tutoring 8th graders who are struggling with math.
This is the third week for the federally funded pilot program, first announced by the State Department of Education back in November of 2021.
For three days a week, Owasso Alternative High School math teacher Roxanne Boyce teaches outside of her classroom, once the school day is done.
"I go home and take care of my family and then, you know, start getting them ready for bed and then I hop on with the kids,” Boyce said.
She is tutoring three students at once; one from Jenks, another from Glenpool, and an Epic student.
"It's going really well,” she said. “The kids are getting on. They're getting on, on time; they're participating. They want to learn. They want to fill those gaps."
The state Department of Education said $5 million of federal relief money will be used over three years, with the goal to help as many as 1,500 students a year.
The program is just for 8th graders, and the OSDE said 481 students are logging on for extra help.
111 certified educators across the state were hired to become tutors. So were 50 college students, adding up to 161 math tutors helping students.
Boyce said being a tutor isn't taking away from her focus in the classroom, but actually giving her new tools to use at school.
She added that in her 11-year teaching career, she has already become used to taking on additional work.
"I always worked extra jobs,” she said. “Having a second child this year, I haven't been working my extra jobs."
She said the program, which is a nine-week commitment, seemed like a good opportunity to help students close the learning gap caused by the pandemic. The extra income is a welcome help.
Certified educators make $50 an hour for tutoring, while college students earn $25.
All numbers aside, Boyce has some simple advice for any student struggling with math.
"Keep trying. Keep asking questions,” she said. “The students that are not asking questions are the students that are falling behind."
Dr. Jen Miller with Tulsa Public Schools said while it is not her primary role, she is currently teaching classes due to the teacher shortage. She is also serving as a tutor with the state’s pilot program.
“In the math tutoring corps, I strategically work with two students," she wrote in an email. "I can provide them with just-in-time support to bridge any gaps in their math knowledge. The corps is very supportive of teachers in our current educational environment by supplying the content and strategies for our tutoring sessions. This program helps students see that mistakes are part of learning, but we can improve our skills every day.”
The state said students attending Oklahoma State University, Langston University, Northeastern State University, Eastern Oklahoma State College, Southern Nazarene University and Cameron University are working as tutors right now.
The OSDE said details regarding enrollment in the Math Tutoring Corps for the 2022-23 school year will be available in the spring of 2022.