Illinois Loop
Your guide to education in Illinois
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Tutoring Centers

"I was going nuts for a few years watching these places pop up. With a town of about 8000 students I couldn't believe we could support five tutoring centers without the school district figuring out it had a problem."
-- a parent and reformer


    Note: This list is provided for your convenience. Listed centers are not necessarily endorsed or approved by the Illinois Loop.

  • Kumon:
    Kumon is a very popular math program that combines at-home daily worksheets with weekly visits to a Kumon center. Since parents are highly involved and much of the work is done at home, prices are kept much lower than at most other after-school tutoring programs. The strength of the program is mastery of computational algorithms, serving as a foundation for later understanding.

    As a downside, Kumon work focuses tightly on mastery of a single operation at a time, and then when that is accomplished, work moves on to something else with little looking back. So, there is almost no emphasis on mixed practice, or on maintaining skills that were mastered at one time. There is also almost no coverage of word problems, or putting math skills into practice. It is quite possible for a child to become very adapt and automatic at multi-digit division, say, but have little confidence on when division is to be used. (This is not an argument in favor of fuzzy math! Saxon Math manages to be extremely effective at maintenance and application, without resorting to endless constructivist games.)

    It seems that about half of Kumon students are trying to catch up in math, and the other half are trying to pull ahead. Many bright kids clearly do very well with Kumon, and the Kumon newsletter features them extensively. However, the newsletter says far less about weaker students. It is of concern whether their success depends on supplementing in the areas that are missing in the Kumon program.

  • Ravinia Reading Center:
    This excellent center in the Ravinia area on the North Shore has helped many struggling readers become effective readers through caring instructors, solid phonics training and continuous assessment. On their website, founders Holly and Frank Shapiro provide several good articles on understanding reading problems:

    • The Struggle to Read: A good intro on the difficulty of coming to terms with early reading difficulties.
    • Reading Fluency: "When you hear children read aloud and there is a slow, staccato, and halting quality to their reading, we say that the child lacks fluency. At schools, teachers may say that a child is doing fine when he or she is reading grade-level books with a reasonable degree of accuracy. However, reading isn't functional when it's simply accurate. Those accurate words may have come with effort. Fluency is when children read words without a trace of effort. Speed and accuracy together equal fluency."
    • FAQ on Reading: This describes Ravinia's approach, but also gives good advice on reading programs and methods in general.

  • Huntington Learning Centers:
    These centers start with a set of thorough diagnostic tests to determine the nature of a child's weaknesses. After that, instruction is personalized. Although most Huntington teachers are certified, many of them have substantial real world experience and no longer believe the constructivist theories they heard in ed school. When asked about why so many kids in the Chicago suburbs have problems in math, for example, one Huntington center operator explained that it's all due to the prevalence of Everyday Mathematics and other fuzzy math programs. Absolutely right!

  • Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes

  • Sylvan Learning Centers

  • Score! Educational Centers

  • Ombudsman:
    This may offer an interesting alternate route to graduation for teenagers who are at risk of dropping out of school.

  • Knowledge Points

  • Oxford Learning Centers

  • Mathnasium
  • Tutor Doctor

  • Tutoring Club

  • C2 Educational Centers

  • The Tutoring Center


  • Comments by David Klein, March 7, 2003. "I am regularly bombarded by email messages with pleas for help from parents who are desperate to fill in the gaps left by NCTM math programs. Both [Everyday Math] and [Connected Mathematics Project] are major sources of complaints. Parents often resort to private tutoring. Two years ago, I was asked to give a talk about math programs to a parents' group in a high income region in the L.A. area called La Canada. The school district had extremely high test scores, and I was surprised not only by the request for me to speak, but also by the urgency of the request. I asked the parents what they were so worried about, given their top scoring schools. The answer from the approximately 50 parents I spoke to was that they were paying through the nose for tutoring. That was why their scores were so high. The tutors were using programs like Saxon math for elementary school to compensate for the NCTM endorsed programs that La Canada schools were using."

  • Comments by Barry Garelick, March 15, 2007: "... the effectiveness of a math text or program should be based on scores attained by students in such programs on nationally normed tests such as the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills or comparable assessments. In evaluating such scores, it is imperative to determine to what degree students have received supplemental help such as outside help from learning centers (e.g., Sylvan, Kumon, Huntington or tutors), or have been taught from supplemental material that their teachers provided. Without such information, test scores may reflect the effectiveness of the supplemental programs and not necessarily the text or program being evaluated."

  • Learning Centers And Educational Franchises Cater To Increasing Demand, by Kerry Pipes, "Facilities like Sylvan, Huntington, and Kumon are witnessing this exploding growth firsthand. ... The number of franchising opportunities in this growing market is on the rise."

  • Growth In The Educational Franchise Industry Brings New Opportunities For Parents And Children With Special Needs,

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