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Old 05-01-2010, 08:16 PM
Caveat lector Caveat lector is offline
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Southern US
Posts: 609
I'm a math tutor at Sylvan so I'll tell you about that. I have no experience at all with the other system. I've not been there long and I'm not involved in the testing process so my experience in that part is sketchy. I just teach the students they send to me.

First you have to understand that the Sylvan's are franchises so how good they are may vary. Also, like any educational institution, the quality of the teachers is key and that may vary.

All students are given the California Achievement Test both when they enter and when they leave. This is used to establish progress in terms of grade level. Each student is also given distributive practice sheets (DPs) to test specific skills. If they do well on a pre-assessment DPs, 80%+, that skill is not taught as a lesson. If they do not do well they are taught a lesson on that skill. They are then tested after the lesson with three post-DPs over a period of time. They must score 80%+ on them or the lesson is retaught. There are five problems per DP and the DPs are very narrowly targeted (ex. multiplication of three digits by two digits). They are given more pre-DPs throughout their time at Sylvan.

Each lesson uses both concrete manipulatives and individual explanation to teach the skill and then a series of lessons on the skill starting with guided practice and ending with problem solving applications. They must score 100% or two 80%+ on the independent practice and problem solving in order to progress.

Some students do start on math topics much lower than what they are doing in school, but, at my center at least, that is because they can't do those simpler topics. Sure they are doing slope at school, but they can't multiply well or do simple division so we go back and teach them that. It tends to make them much stronger at mathematics in the long run.

However, if you want your child to also have time spent on the topics covered int school just tell the center you want homework support and have your child bring in some lessons. The tutors will go over homework before getting to the skills.

From what I've seen most children do improve in their abilities and feel better about math in general. They see they can do it if they work at it and stop dreading it. However, like all educational techniques, Sylvan may not be best for every child, but I've not yet seen a cooperative child who it didn't benefit.