Chicago area whiz kids help students learn through tutoring

Chicago area whiz kids help students learn through online tutoring

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

ISAT testing is in full swing across the city and suburbs, but it's never too late to get help.

14 year old Whitney Young Magnet High School student Lauren Williamson like so many teens her age is hoping to make the grade in Math.

"So we're trying to figure out how to find a match for her as far as tutoring. You have to figure out who's going to know the information, how much it's going to cost and if she's actually going to retain the information," said Lauren's mother Nikita Williamson.

Math is not what it used to be.

So what's a parent to do when the shapes, letters and numbers don't add up?

Lauren's mother Nikita Williamson turned to Study Buddy, a cutting edge peer to peer program providing free online homework help to middle and high school math and science students nationwide.

"I can sit here and teach her all day long and she will sometimes get it and sometimes not but I think if she had a peer to peer instruction, they can relate to her better and they can get the information out a little bit better," said Williamson.

It's kids helping kids.

And who better than honor students who have aced the course to aide those aiming for an A.

Students like Lauren receive real-time help from a Study Buddy tutor like Abigail Klick.

"You don't have to come in early to school or stay late afterwards so it's very convenient for the person you're tutoring and yourself," said Klick.

At 16 years old, the Oswego East High School junior's aptitude for algebra makes her a highly sought after Study Buddy tutor. Fox 32's Tisha Lewis spent the afternoon with Klick and watched her in action helping a student cities away.

"It's the junior high level so I've done Algebra I, I've done Geometry, Algebra II and then some pre-Calc," said Klick.

"I have to admit I can't do the math problems that she's working on and that she's tutoring the other students in," said Abigail's mother Pam Klick.

The online homework assistance program is free, unlimited and in Chicago it could be what's needed.

Chicago Public Schools says the city's math and science scores are up compared to eleven years ago but down compared to other districts across the state and country.

"We currently have about a thousand tutors in the program and we have rolling registration so they're coming to us throughout the school year," said Gregory Martin, an Education Specialist at The National Science & Technology Education Partnership which founded Study Buddy six years ago.

Seventy of the online program's tutors are members of Oswego East High School's Math Honor Society and though only one hour a month of Study Buddy tutoring is required, many of them exceed that expectation like aspiring aerospace engineer Kevin Anselmo who's logged forty hours a month.

Martin says so far Study Buddy is scandal free thanks to rigid checks and balances to prevent cheating.

"Our goal is not to give them the answer but to help them understand the question they are given," said Anselmo.

"They will tell the student, we can't give away the answer but we're happy to help you with the first step so we have them trained that when a student approaches them with a question, the best way to respond is to ask a question themselves," said Martin.

The software is just one solution to boosting Lauren Williamson's math scores but her mother says it's a start.

In exchange for their help, Study Buddy tutors receive community service hours. CPS does offer its own free tutoring to low income students who attend a school that has not made adequate yearly progress for two consecutive years or more.

Study Buddy is funded by private donations.

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