California State University, Dominguez Hills College of Education’s Project Reach is increasingly being recognized for its work helping to improve the test scores and academic performance of students in Compton Unified School District.
The comprehensive K-12 tutoring initiative that utilizing college students to provide academic support services to schools in Compton Unified School District was touted by the national publication District Administration in its naming of Compton Unified as a “District of Distinction.”
The joint partnership with Compton Unified was established in fall 2015 and pairs 50 college students with students at all 22 Compton elementary schools. Tutors are recruited from primarily CSUDH, but students from other universities and community colleges in the Los Angeles area are appointed. Tutors coach Compton Unified children in the core areas of mathematics, English language arts, English language development, science and social studies.
Data shows that in the short time Project Reach tutors started working at Compton Schools; they made a visible difference in academic performance.
A rigorous recruitment process and training created by Project Reach’s coordinator, Sandra Ramos, has built in many practices that identify students who are a good fit for the program and allow tutors who are eventually hired to meet high academic standards. Thus far, the program places emphasis on hiring tutors from the communities that are being served resulting in many of the tutors being familiar with the community, and who are willing to work closely with the schools they themselves attended.
Kamal Hamdan, executive director of the CSUDH Center for STEM Institute for Innovation and Improvement (CSI3), which oversees Project Reach, explained, “[The students] develop [an attitude that says] ‘I too can make it because I too look like my tutor. I too look like my teacher and maybe I can go to college and be like them.’”
Project Reach not only benefits the academic performance of Compton Unified students, it also benefits the tutors, who gain substantial professional experience and personal growth.
One of the major themes we experienced was inspiration. Either the students inspired us to go to work or we inspired the students to keep working,” said Joshua Gonzalez, Project Reach tutor.
“At the beginning, the students would not talk or wanted to participate or do their work,” said Brianna Haywood explained how students’ evolved, “but gradually they started to open up and began to talk and ask more questions. In the end, they wanted to be more involved.”
So impressed by the impact of the program, Compton Unified asked for dozens of tutors to remain for their summer program.
Project Reach just finished its first summer tutor training is currently recruiting more tutors to work in Compton Unified for the 2016-2017 years.