25 Years
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Tutor Tips: Low Proficiency

The following Tutor Tip from Dr. Carmine Stewart appeared in the February 2022 issue of Tutor News for Seeds of Literacy volunteers


When people learn about Seeds of Literacy and sign up to volunteer, they all have some expectation of what that experience will be like, particularly if they see Seeds as a “GED program.”

What tutors may not realize is that we also serve students who are still building a foundation for learning in reading and math. What’s true is that only about 10% of our students are performing math at a “high school level,” and only about 23% of our students enter the program reading at that level. For those students, their experiences in the K-12 system did not prepare them adequately, and that is why they have found their way to Seeds.

Sometimes you may find yourself wondering why a student doesn’t know something that you think adults should know. It’s important to keep in mind that our education system is not designed for every student to succeed, and that many CHILDREN fall through the cracks every year. If those children don’t get help as kids by the adults around them, those challenges will persist into adulthood. We HOPE those students find their way to Seeds.

If you find yourself working with a student who has low proficiency in reading or math, please keep in mind a few things:

  • Their learning challenges started when they were children, and were unable to advocate for themselves
  • These students are capable of learning if they have a tutor who is patient and understanding, and who is willing to fill in the gaps in their learning foundation,
  • Learning for these students will take time — progress may be slow, but we can help them achieve their goals . It took all of us years to get to where we are, as well.

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A recognized leader in the field of adult education, Dr. Carmine Stewart currently maintains dual roles as:

  • Vice President of Programming for Seeds of Literacy – overseeing the development of workforce partnerships, the creation and launch of the Beginning & Struggling Readers program, professional development for tutors, and the GED in Spanish initiative
  • President & CEO of ACES (Adult Consulting and Educational Services, formerly Aspire) – conducting research, evaluation, assessment, data analysis, and professional development training for school districts and adult literacy agencies.