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Free tutoring available for struggling Gainesville Middle School students
Ava White meets with parent William Blanco at her booth, Ava White Academy, at the Gainesville Middle School media center during the tutoring options fair Tuesday evening.

Gainesville Middle School students struggling with grades and test scores can get help for free.

Under federal funding the school receives on a needs improvement list, each student struggling with math and reading skills who meet free and reduced lunch eligibility can get $1,575 in tutoring services.

"This is the third year we've done free tutoring, and after the first year, along with the efforts of teachers and staff, we barely missed (Adequate Yearly Progress) by two or three students," said Matt Maynor, who organizes the services at the middle school.

Schools that don't meet federal standards for two years face consequences and are placed on the needs improvement list, requiring them to offer additional programs such as after-school tutoring. A school must make AYP two years in a row to get off the list.

The middle school missed the mark for this year's initial AYP results, marking the fifth consecutive year the school has fallen short by a handful of students. After summer test retakes, the school made the final AYP report in every subject and category of student. It can come off the needs improvement list if students with disabilities make AYP in math scores in 2011.

"Every student who qualifies for math, language and reading tutoring is given a base amount of money by the government to spend on tutoring," Maynor told a large group of parents in the middle school's media center Tuesday. Parents came to a tutoring fair to talk to seven local tutoring representatives and sign their children up for the program. "The providers send the bill to the school, and they let you know when you've reached the end of the limit."

The different tutoring services align in four categories - an after-school program at the school, services that come to the student's home, tutoring lessons at a business and online tutoring. Most of the online tutoring companies offer a laptop and Internet access for the student to take home.

"These students need that extra boost and specialized attention for what they really need, whether it's timetables or reading quickly," said Ava White of Ava White Tutorials. White teaches the students in an after-school program on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and then students receive transportation home from the middle school. "Some of these students are learning what I call ‘playground English' because they don't get it at home. It's nobody's fault, but they can't read and write English well enough for tests."

Parents, who received notice of the meeting in the mail, swarmed the tables Tuesday night, trying to find the best option for their students.

"This is just great to help them in school," said parent Anitra Wilson. "It's great that they can provide the tutoring free of charge. That's a blessing."


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