Volume 42, Issue 2, Fall 2005
by Arun Alagappan
“Evidence abounds to support the perception that Americans are underperforming academically. The most recent International Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) indicates that, in a test of math skills among eighth-graders from 46 countries, the United States-despite its unparalleled resources-ranked 15th. Yet Americans think they do better, ranking themselves 4th overall when asked to assess their own performance. Conversely, students from the five highest-performing nations rank themselves 28th, 38th, 41st, 44th, and 45th, respectively. American students reflect our national paradox: we speak confidently, even righteously, about the value of education, but our actions fall short. This problem demands a new educational approach. I propose a model that can be leveraged on a national scale, calling upon private enterprise with relentlessly high standards and a social conscience to offer a substantive contribution. Tutoring by exceptional tutors is the solution.
Tutoring, with its ineluctably low student-teacher ratio, may not seem like the most intuitive approach to improving education for the masses. But good tutoring is efficient, and stunningly effective. One-on-one instruction goes straight to the heart of education: the exchange between teacher and student.”