Online tutoring program enhances students’ skills

In 2006, the Buena Vista School District in Saginaw, Mich., had a population of middle school students who were struggling in math and English and needed summer school instruction. The district began searching for a tutoring program that would help students in grades six through eight improve their skills in these subjects. However, Buena Vista officials also wanted a partner that would take a unique approach to learning–encouraging and inspiring students’ success beyond simply an after-school program.

Three years later, after the success of the Champions Buena Vista summer school program, the district has signed on with Champions to provide its newest academic program, Champions Online Tutoring. The online tutoring program was tasked with developing the math skills of students in the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades.

Thanks in part to the success of the summer program, and the strong relationships it established with the district and local families, in January 2009 Champions debuted its newest national academic offering, Champions Online Tutoring, at Buena Vista’s Ricker Middle School. Buena Vista hosted a six-week, 30-hour online math tutoring program, during which students logged in to sessions in the school computer lab. Equipped with headsets and the Champions interactive web portal, students completed lessons and communicated–through verbal discussions, instant messaging, or a virtual whiteboard–with a live tutor.

Champions Online Tutoring provides one tutor for every four students. Lessons are designed to meet individual students’ needs, identified via a computer adaptive pretest that pinpoints students’ skill gaps and areas of strength. Pretest results are compiled to determine individualized learning plans. Students work through the assigned lessons and are able to move on in their learning plans once the instructor feels the students have mastered the content.

Buena Vista enrolled 48 students in the winter session and will run the program again in the summer and fall. Because the program is customized to each individual student’s skill level, the program was and will continue to be offered to students in need of academic intervention as well as those students looking for accelerated learning in math.


Pretest assessments administered to Buena Vista students found the average student’s instructional level to be at fourth grade. After six weeks and 32 hours of math instruction in two areas, Numbers & Operations and Concepts & Applications, students completed the post-test assessment to measure progress in each area. Buena Vista students achieved an average increase of one instructional grade level over the course of the program–bringing the group from a fourth to a fifth grade math level.