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PELHAM - Alabama students in fourth through 12th grade will soon be able to connect to free online homework help, Governor Bob Riley and State Librarian Rebecca Mitchell announced today at the Pelham Public Library. Beginning August 1, students can get homework help from expert tutors from 3 p.m. to midnight daily by going to the website www.homeworkalabama.org.

 

"We are committed to providing children all across the state with the best learning opportunities possible, and that commitment doesn't stop when the school day ends.  Today's technology offers new ways to improve student achievement and give our children the one-on-one help they need after school. Alabama will not let this opportunity that helps our students pass us by," Governor Riley said.

 

Live homework help will be available seven days a week from 3 p.m. to midnight in the subjects of math, science, social studies and English.  Students can connect to a tutor through any computer with Internet access, including computers at their local public library or at home. Students must type in their zip code to use the free service.

 

"The Alabama Public Library Service (APLS) and the public libraries of our state feel that children are both the future and our state's most precious resource," said Mitchell.  "With the implementation of homeworkalabama.org from Tutor.com, public libraries will be offering another method for delivering information to assist students beyond the traditional classroom setting.  Live homework help online is the latest in an ongoing effort by public libraries to provide assistance to both the students and the school systems of Alabama.  We look forward to the continued partnerships between local public libraries and local public schools." 

 

Congressman Spencer Bachus, who helped secure federal funding for the initiative, said:  "Governor Riley and State Librarian Rebecca Mitchell should be commended for their work in bringing this valuable library tutoring program to libraries throughout the state.  In the best circumstances, parents are able to assist their children in subjects with which the children have difficulty.  More often than not, however, this kind of assistance may not be available to children for a variety of reasons.  Homework Alabama, serving as an extension of the classroom, ensures all of our children can get the help and attention they need."

 

Once they log on, students select their grade level and the subject.  Tutor.com selects and trains the tutors, who are current and retired teachers, graduate students and college professors.  Every tutor must pass a security check.  In addition, before they are hired, prospective tutors submit resumes and teaching samples that show how they would help a child solve particular problems, complete technology training, participate in mock sample sessions, undergo a 30-day probation period and work with a mentor.

 

Is it possible that students could use the system to get tutors to do their homework for them? No. Tutors are trained to prevent such problems and the company's policies forbid a tutor from completing homework for students.  Every tutoring session is recorded and monitored by the company.

 

The tutors help students with homework through the use of instant messaging, an interactive virtual "chalkboard" and shared Web browsing.  Drawing and diagramming features allow tutors to demonstrate math and science concepts.  When the session is completed, students can print their session for future reference or share it with a parent or teacher.  Both students and tutors complete surveys, which are shared with the Alabama Public Library Service and the individual public libraries each month.

 

The program is currently offered only in 10 libraries in Shelby County, where it has been available since August 2002.  Students there completed about 5,000 sessions during the 2004-2005 school year.  In post-session surveys, more than 95 percent of the students reported that they were glad the library offered the service and they would recommend it to their friends.

 

The success of the program in Shelby County prompted APLS to commit $300,000 in Institute of Museum and Library Services federal funds so the after-school tutoring service can be offered through all 219 public libraries in Alabama.

 

"Homework Alabama is a program that will help all of our children because it will help struggling students as well as gifted students, students from affluent areas as well as impoverished areas," said Barbara Roberts, Director of Harrison Regional Library. "It will truly level the playing field and offer the same service to each and every child in this state regardless of where they live or the income of their parents.  The children of this state are our future and the public libraries of this state have always known that in order to do what is best for all our children, we must assist the public schools in any way we can.  This is just the latest in a long line of cooperative programs between public libraries and public schools."

 

Article Courtesy: Governor's Press Office 

 

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