Lauren's academic career has been challenging from the start. Her family moved from northern to southern California during the last few weeks of her kindergarten year. Since the move was within the California school system, her parents were not epecting the transition to present much of an academic challenge. They were surprised that although Lauren entered the new kindergarten class knowing almost all 52 site words required in northern California, the southern California class was reading paragraphs.
Lauren and her family worked diligently that summer to keep the words Lauren had learned fresh in her mind. When first grade began, Lauren was placed in the lowest reading group. Lauren, her first grade teacher, and her parents, invested a significant amount of effort into helping Lauren learn to read that year. By the end of the school year, Lauren had made significant improvement. Again, they worked hard through the summer.
Second grade was a hard year for Lauren. Lauren's teacher had a more abstract approach to teaching and to the detriment of Lauren much of the required second grade curriculum was not covered. As her parents recognized that Lauren was not being prepared for third grade, they began to supplement the school's efforts with tutoring. Lauren worked with two different credential teachers for eight months. Despite their best efforts, Lauren was significantly behind by the time she finished second grade.
In the middle of Lauren's third grade year, her parents were notified by the school that she would be recommended for retention if she did not make significant improvement. This news demanded a significant response. "We felt sad, overwhelmed, and frustrated, and we were not entirely sure what to do," said Joanne Russell, Lauren's mother. "We knew that whatever steps we took had to be the right steps. We were running out of time and chances; all of her struggles were coming to a single conclusion - retention."
Thanks to a Friend
Mrs. Russell had a friend who had been taking her son to a local tutoring center, and had remarked several times about the progress he had been making. She had been taking her son to see Dr. Howard Wiedre at It's Academic Tutoring Center for almost a year. The center was located near the Russells, on the border of San Marcos and Carlsbad. Although armed with the contact information, Joanne struggled to make the call. "Making that first call was really difficult," said Joanne. "There was so much anxiety and emotion surrounding my concerns for my daughter. I didn't even know where to begin in articulating my concerns. Despite this, I was desperate to find a solution. Based on my friend's recommendation I was hopeful that I had found the answer." Lauren's father had his own concerns. "To me, tutoring was always something high school kids did to earn extra money. I wasn't expecting a lot from a tutoring center," said Garrick Russell.
After a brief conversation with Howard, Lauren was invited to the center for a complimentary assessment. She was thoroughly tested and Howard was able to confirm that Lauren's fluency rate was far below average. While she was in the middle of third grade, Lauren's reading level was measured at grade 2.5. She was at least a year behind. "His testing was objective and accurate and identified where Lauren needed support, particularly in the areas of reading, phonics, grammar and vocabulary," commented Joanne. This time with Howard also revealed concerns about grammar, spelling and writing. While math was also troublesome, initial tests didn't assess her math needs. The need to improve Lauren's Language Arts skills was clear and immediate so we started there first," said Dr. Wiedre. "Lauren needed to learn, understand and apply the basic rules of phonics. Testing showed there were many holes in her understanding and that was likely the reason Lauren was struggling," he added. Howard suggested he meet with Lauren three times a week.
On the road to knowledge
Howard spent the next five months working intensely with Lauren. She learned the fundamentals of language all over again and spent one-on-one time with Howard as well as follow-up time at home using on-line tools. "While it was a lot of work, I never heard Lauren complain about it. It seemed that Howard made the learning process fun for her and she really seemed to enjoy her time at the Center," remarked Joanne.
With only five months of tutoring, Lauren has moved from a reading level 2.5 to a functional 4.5 grade level and finished the year with the best grades she has ever received. Her fluency rate has increased from 111 words per minute to 138, a 24% improvement. Lauren also made significant improvement in her vocabulary skills and now tests at a 5.0 grade level. "I was shocked at the improvement," said Garrick. "I was expecting that he was going to coach her along and help her do better in school. What
he did was complete reeducate Lauren in Language Arts in a matter of about five months. The transformation is remarkable!"
"We could not be more pleased with Lauren's progress, and am extremely grateful for the support and attention we have received from It's Academic Tutoring Center," beamed Joanne. "Better still, Lauren is so much more confident in her abilities as a student. With the proper support she is learning to take ownership of her education and understands the importance of doing the best she can each day." Lauren is a bright girl who somehow missed learning the fundamentals," said Howard. "It didn't take long to get her back on track and I'm proud of her for the effort she put into this. I fully expect to see similar improvements as we address Lauren's writing and math challenges."