Students could be eligible for free tutoring

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 12, 2009

NATCHEZ — A Jackson-based education group wants to offer free tutoring services to two Natchez schools that have fallen short of Adequate Yearly Progress goals two years in a row.

Chan Cleveland, assistant director of Marathon Education Group, spoke before Mayor Jake Middleton and the Natchez Board of Aldermen Tuesday, offering free tutoring to students at Morgantown Elementary School and Robert Lewis Middle School. All parents have to do is sign up.

Marathon is a state-approved No Child Left Behind supplemental educational services provider that uses the Mississippi Department of Education’s curriculum for instruction in language arts and math, Cleveland said.

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Funded by Title I federal dollars, Marathon would spend $1,352 per student for tutoring. Children who receive a free or reduced price lunch are eligible for the services.

“The kids that need it the most are the ones that are eligible,” Cleveland said.

Marilyn Turner, director of federal programs for the Natchez-Adams School District, said Marathon is one of 10 supplemental service providers nationwide offering free tutoring to the schools. Other providers include Kids Kollege of Jackson, The Acheivement Academy of Baton Rouge and Educational Enterprises of Atlanta.

Letters were recently mailed to parents informing them of the services, Turner said, and the Natchez-Adams School Board will likely sanction the supplemental service providers during its regular meeting at 4 p.m. today at Braden School on Homochitto Street.

Like most SES providers, Marathon hires teachers from their respective school districts to tutor students.

“We’re helping the district as a whole and not just the schools,” Cleveland said. “As we’re training the teachers, they’re learning effective strategies they can implement in the classroom.”

Cleveland said Marathon’s tutoring method follows small group instruction. The student-teacher ratio during the sessions is typically 12:1. If students need more attention and help, the ratio is reduced to 6:1.

Marathon offers tutoring at participating schools if administrators allow the use of campus facilities. Alternative sites include churches and community centers, Cleveland said.

Biweekly reports are sent to parents outlining their child’s progress, attendance and participation. Sessions are conducted three days a week and last for an hour and a half.

Cleveland enlisted the help of city officials and the community to inform parents of Marathon’s services.

“We want to inform the public the best way we can about the program,” Cleveland said.

For more information, call 601-982-5423 or e-mail