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Tutoring and Homework

Services adapt to fit 21st-century assignments.

The changing nature of homework and increased use of technology in assignments have affected tutoring companies and the services they provide. Personalized learning is an increasingly important concept for homework help, says Lynn Fontana, chief academic officer of Sylvan Learning, a national tutoring center chain that provides homework help for pre-K12 students. “The degree to which the adaptive technology and computer technology enable us to meet the needs of students as they are clearly defined is really where everybody is going, including in homework help,” she adds.

For example, with SmartTutor, a K5 online tutoring system, students take an assessment test to determine their strengths and weaknesses, and each child is then placed into a personalized learning program tailored to his or her specific areas of need to better target homework help. “We go back to where the gap happened, and assign lessons very specifically to that individual student that will bridge that gap, so they can quickly get up to speed,” says Robin Baker, president of SmartTutor.

Parents often struggle trying to help their children taking higher mathematics, such as algebra and geometry, and these are areas where Sylvan sees the greatest demand for homework help. The company continues to look for better, more systematic ways to support students with after-school assignments. “There’s a huge opportunity to do more than just help students do their homework, to help them understand some of the fundamentals that may be interfering with their ability to do the work on their own,” she says.