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Free tutoring gets high marks
80.6% of students show improvement
Some of the 400-plus Give Every Child a Chance tutors are shown above during the annual volunteer appreciation dinner. - photo by Bulletin file photo
The report card is in - Give Every Child a Chance continues to exceed the mark when it comes to helping struggling kids improve in school.

An independent evaluation showed that 80.6 percent of all students involved with GECAC‘s free tutoring programs are showing significant improvement. That is almost double the success rate of most community-based tutoring programs.

The annual study conducted by San Joaquin County Data Co-Op concluded the community-based tutoring program:
 • helped students improve academically.
• reduced the number of failing grades.
• built a positive partnership for the benefit of the community.
• created a positive one-on-one connection for children with a team of community volunteers.
• provided citizens the opportunity to give back to their community through serving others.
• provided children with hope for the future.

Manteca Unified School District Superintendent Jason Messer said teachers are confident when they recommend struggling students to the one-on-one tutoring organization that there will be progress made.

“We know a quality one-on-one tutoring program is important,” Messer said. “You can make significant differences for individual students.”

Messer said he was impressed that GECAC has generated 400 plus community volunteers who work one-on-one with students an hour twice a week.

The just issued report examined grade level performances as well as state test results of the students involved before and after being in the GECAC program.

“A lot of credit goes to our volunteer tutors,” noted GECAC Chief Operating Officer Carol Davis. “They aren’t just tutors, they also serve as mentors.”

Davis believes one of GECAC’s strength is the fact they tailor the tutoring process to the individual child’s strength. If they learn better via visual cues, then the tutoring is done in that manner.

In 2009, GECAC had 5,530 students in its various programs that include one-on-one tutoring as well as group tutoring through After School Advantage Program, Homework Assistance Program, and Reading to the 2nd Power Program. There are 28 sites with most located in Manteca, Ripon, Lathrop, and French camp with other sites in Escalon and Banta.

In addition, GECAC has helped start independent tutoring programs in Tracy, Merced, and Sonora.

They also operate a Technology Outreach Program using a bus equipped with computers and several summer tutoring programs. They are also getting ready to launch a job shadow program.

Most of the students being helped are in the second through sixth grade. It is an age level that education experts contend is essential to lay the foundation for doing better in high school and college. The highest concentration is sixth grade with 1,080 students, then third grade with 884 students, fifth with 858 students, and then fourth with 829 students.

The lowest level is in the 12th grade with seven students.

There are a number of seventh and eighth graders as well as high school student’s helping younger students.

There were 1,977 students involved with the one-on-one tutoring program while Homework Assistance Program includes 784 students and After School Advantage Program had 3,083 students.

Math was the toughest subject with 1,865 students needing help in the discipline followed by reading at 1,798 students, writing at 1,504 students, spelling at 753 students, history at 404 students, and science at 395 students.

In a survey of the students being tutored, the study found:
• 99 percent said their tutors cared about their success.
• 84 percent said tutors had a positive impact on their personal life.
• 90 percent said tutors kept them focused and on track.
• 85 percent said tutors enhanced their communication skills.
• 95 percent said their tutors showed patience and understanding.
Parents surveyed found the following results when it came to their child:
• 70 percent said their child can now work independently.
• 64 percent said their child has improved attendance at school.
• 83 percent said their child has shown more confidence and self-esteem.
• 82 percent said their child now has a better understanding of their school work.
Teachers surveyed indicated GECAC helped students in the following ways:
• 84 percent improved their academic performance.
• 88 percent improved classroom participation and performance.
• 57 percent improved their school attendance
• 52 percent improved their citizenship.
• 66 percent improved their communication skills.

GECAC was started
a dozen years ago
The first one-on-one tutoring sessions took place at the main site some 12 years ago. That first year involved 166 students. Within seven years, that number had grown to 1,778 students at 28 sites.

GECAC was the creation of the late Antone Raymus. The housing developer provided $300,000 in seed money plus free space to get the program started.

Raymus came up with the idea along with the late Bob Camden - who was a retired Manteca High teacher at the time.

They concluded that teens and young adults who made the wrong decisions and ended up facing the possibility of being incarcerated had failings earlier in their life in both the classroom and their social endeavors.

That is why GECAC has from day one been a combined tutoring-mentoring program.

If you are interested in finding out how to be a volunteer tutor, you can contact the GECAC office at 825-7003.