Achievement Connections now recruiting high school math tutors

An ambitious education initiative in Madison is about to start its second year and will need the help of UW-Madison students in order for the program to reach its goal.

Year after year, Algebra 1 proves to be one of the most difficult classes for area high school students. And passing algebra is the single largest indicator that a student will graduate high school.

Enter, Achievement Connections: A program that pairs volunteers from UW-Madison and the community to partner with local high school students for one-on-one algebra tutoring. The student and tutor will remain paired for at least one semester, building a trusting relationship that program leaders hope will stretch beyond math.

“It is certainly important to provide the students with additional help in math,” Achievement Connection Campus Coordinator Jose Torres said. “But the program is also designed to provide a one-on-one support system and give the students someone they can build trust with.”

Achievement Connections hopes to reach 400 students in Madison and Middleton high schools. To make that possible, the program needs over 300 volunteer tutors and it’s looking for UW-Madison students to fill about half that need.

Jose Torres, an AmeriCorp member with Achievement Connections and the Morgridge Center for Public Service, has been tasked with finding at least 150 student volunteers. Last year, UW-Madison students accounted for just under 170 of the tutors.

“The response from UW students last year was fantastic,” Torres said. “We’re hoping to have even mores students involved in the program this year.”

Any interested student should contact Jose at Potential tutors will be asked to pass a basic algebra test. If they pass that test, they will then be trained and matched with a student in a local high school 2-3 hours each week.

Although the Achievement Connections program is focused on a very specific indicator of success, the program is a response to the wider racial and ethnic education disparities in the Madison area. In 2012-13, white students in the Madison Metropolitan School District graduated at a rate of 87.5 percent, while that numbers stands at 68.8% for Hispanic and Latino students and 54.1 percent for African-American students.

Achievement Connections is a partnership between the United Way of Dane County, AmeriCorps, Madison Metropolitan School District, Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District and the Morgridge Center for Public Service.