Tutors Filling Arizona’s Curriculum Chasm

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Arizona’s education woes have increased business for tutors and learning centers in the Phoenix area, with many centers supplementing the gaps in the current educational system.

Despite the increase in state funding, test scores show that students are not consistently meeting academic standards developed by the state.

The State of Arizona’s Budget for the 2016 fiscal year shows a $148 million increase in K-12 education spending from the previous year. According to the budget, nearly $4.7 billion will go toward education within the state.

While Governor Doug Ducey’s executive budget proposal for 2016 shows an increase in spending, it will also reduce non-classroom expenditures by five percent for the 230 school districts.

The purpose of the reduction is to shrink the size of school administrations and refocus on students and teachers. However, the category of student support and instruction support is included as a part of the five percent reduction.

The state currently spends close to $8,000 on a student annually, according to the Arizona Joint Legislative Budget Committee reports. That is below the national average. The National Education Association says the national average student cost is $11,000.

In addition, over crowded classrooms and minimal incentives for teachers have added to the breakdown of the academic climate. Tutoring companies are providing much needed supplemental education for students not receiving individualized attention in class.

The gap in instructional support for core subjects has led to an up scaling of private tutoring business.

Core Subject Assistance


Sylvan Leaning Centers in Ahwatukee. Photo Credit: Erin Fox

Denise Dotti, 50, is the Director of Education at Sylvan Learning Center in Ahwatukee. She said she has seen an increase in business since last year. Dotti said last year students mostly needed homework support. This year more students need help with core subjects.

“In a classroom everything might have been bunched together, so within a week they might have had everything sort of thrown at them. Here we are giving them every little piece to find, where was that part, where was that part that they didn’t quite understand,” Dotti said.

Middle school math was one area she saw many of her students struggle. Dotti said the common core shift to move pre-algebra math to middle school, required a more abstract approach to mathematics.

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