Nationally Recognized Math Tutoring Program Expands to Chicago Public Schools; Impact on Student Achievement and Violent Crime Will Be Rigorously Evaluated

University of Chicago Urban Education Lab, Crime Lab, and Boston-Based Match Education Partner to Bring Math Tutoring Program to up to 1,000 Chicago Public Schools Youth.

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"With critical mentoring and tutoring and proven results, Match builds on the City's investment in the Becoming A Man program and is putting some of our most vulnerable youth on a path to a brighter future,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Chicago, IL (PRWEB) May 14, 2013

The University of Chicago Urban Education Lab, Crime Lab, and Match Education announced today that up to 1,000 adolescent boys in twelve schools in the Chicago Public School system will be provided high dosage, individualized daily math tutoring in their regular school day as part of a program designed to boost school performance and reduce violent crime involvement. The program will begin serving youth in the fall of 2013 and will focus on schools in some of the city’s most distressed and disadvantaged communities.

With support from the MacArthur Foundation and the University of Chicago, the program will be implemented in a way that will support the most rigorous possible evaluation, akin to a randomized controlled trial that provides the “gold standard” evidence in medicine, with the intent of guiding education policy efforts in Chicago and across the country.

"With critical mentoring and tutoring and proven results, Match builds on the City's investment in the Becoming A Man program and is putting some of our most vulnerable youth on a path to a brighter future,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “We all have a role to play in ensuring their safety and growth and I am committed to investing in more programs that not only provide safe alternatives but also give our youth the tools and opportunity they deserve to succeed."

Initial findings from a pilot program this year at Harper High School in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood support the hypothesis that Becoming A Man (BAM), a group counseling intervention developed by local social service agency Youth Guidance and previously evaluated by the University of Chicago Crime Lab, and Match-style tutoring together can dramatically reduce the risk of violence involvement for youth in some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago:

  • After just six weeks working with youth (November 2012 – January 2013), the combination of BAM and Match-style tutoring together reduced the rate at which students receive misconducts in their schools by 67 percent and reduced course failures by 37 percent, and reduced expected violent crime arrest rates over the next one to two years by over 50 percent.
  • The combination of the two programs – BAM plus Match-style tutoring – yields much greater impact than delivering the BAM program alone.

“The combination of gold standard evidence and exceptional implementation capacity is rare – and that is precisely what the Urban Education Lab and Match bring to Chicago. I am enormously enthusiastic about the potential to make a difference for 1,000 young men in Chicago, and do it in a way that will influence policy and practice nationwide,” said Timothy F.C. Knowles, John Dewey Director of the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute.

“The research team at the Urban Education Lab is world-class, and Match is eager to submit the tutoring work we’ll do on behalf of the students in the Chicago Public Schools to their evaluation,” said Stig Leschly, CEO of Match Education.

“We know from the Crime Lab’s previous research BAM helps get students more engaged in school, but unfortunately too many middle and high school students are so far behind grade level that they need intensive academic help to catch up and be able to engage with regular classroom instruction. Match was the most promising program we could find that has a chance of doing that. We need kids to have a real hope of getting a high school diploma if we want to sustain the effects of BAM on youth violence,” said Jens Ludwig, Director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab and Co-Director of the University of Chicago Urban Education Lab.

“Based on the Match tutoring program’s previous success in urban public schools, we are excited to work with the University of Chicago and the Chicago Public Schools to help youth in Chicago. We believe this intervention program could be a guide for other cities,” said Alan P.G. Safran, President of Match Education Tutors in Boston. Safran, formerly Deputy Commissioner of Education in Massachusetts and longtime Executive Director of Match Schools in Boston, was the spokesman for Illinois U.S. Senator Charles Percy’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington, D.C., in the early 1980’s.

The Match tutoring program was developed in 2004 at the Match public charter schools in Boston, where math tutoring is incorporated as a period in the school day. Trained, professional tutors each work with one to three students at a time as part of the regular school day. Since then, the Lawrence (Massachusetts) Public Schools; the Houston Independent School District, as part of the Apollo 20 project; and Denver Public Schools have begun to replicate the Match tutoring model. Evaluated by Harvard economist Roland Fryer, the tutoring in Houston was found to have a significant effect, equating to between two and four years of math growth for the students.

In Chicago, the program will be provided alongside the BAM program. Match tutoring will be provided as part of the school day and students will receive course credit for participating in the tutoring program. Match is recruiting recent college graduates, mid-career switchers, and retirees to tutor in Chicago, and will also hire staff on the ground to provide program leadership and oversight. Each tutor will work with two students at a time during six school periods across two schools, with a tutor caseload of 12 students throughout the school year. The University of Chicago will evaluate the performance of Match’s impact on student academic performance as well as reducing violent crime involvement.

As a result of the pilot program at Harper, teachers said that students receiving tutoring were able to perform better in algebra because the gaps in their understanding of math were overcome by the individualized attention, which included intensive work on specific concepts. Students taking part in the program also said the tutoring made them feel more satisfied with their school work.

“I missed a lot of assignments and my tutor helped me catch up. She also explains math to me to help me understand the problems. Now I am getting an A in algebra. That makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something important,” said Harper freshman Keivonte Nichols.

About University of Chicago Urban Education Lab

The University of Chicago Urban Education Lab (UEL), part of the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute (UEI), is devoted to partnering with local, state and federal government agencies to carry out randomized education-policy experiments and other rigorous research studies aimed at improving education policy and outcomes for youth in urban schools. The UEL is a virtual network of 43 leading education policy experts in their respective fields from top research universities across the nation, assembled with the goal of answering education policy questions using gold-standard evidence derived from randomized controlled trials of the sort common in medicine.

About University of Chicago Crime Lab

The University of Chicago Crime Lab was launched in 2008 to help make progress in reducing crime, violence and related problems by partnering with local government agencies, non-profits and faith-based organizations to identify the highest priorities of policymakers and practitioners, subject them to “gold-standard” randomized experimental tests, calculate returns on investment, and disseminate the findings widely to the policymaking community nationwide. To carry out this goal the Crime Lab has assembled a network of over 25 leading experts at universities around the country such as Harvard, Yale, UC-Berkeley, UCLA, University of Michigan, Duke, University of Pennsylvania, Temple, NYU and the University of Chicago.

About Match Education

Match Education is widely recognized as an engine of innovation in public education. Match operates three high-performing Boston public charter schools for low-income and minority children and a unique graduate school of education that trains teachers for urban settings. Match tests, refines and proves what works, producing extraordinary outcomes for students. Rather than concentrating on expansion, Match focuses on how to best scale its ideas and practices to benefit more students.


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