NEWMAN - Students at Orestimba High School and Yolo Middle School have extra help available at their fingertips through an individualized tutoring program purchased by the Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District.

The district is turning to a program offered by Revolution Prep to make additional resources available which boost academic achievement - with an emphasis on the subject of math.

The program, called Homework Help, does not provide a tutor in the traditional face-to-face setting. But Superintendent Randy Fillpot and Director of Curriculum and Instruction Kim Bettencourt said the digital platform is well-suited for today’s tech-savvy students.

“Kids are used to virtual things,” Bettencourt reflected. “They are fine talking to somebody on a computer. I think this is going to be very helpful to our high school and junior high students. There is no reason why they cannot get help now. It is at their fingertips.”

Fillpot said he previously used Revolution Prep resources as principal at Orestimba, and credits the company’s program for helping the high school exit Program Improvement status.

The Homework Help resource, Fillpot explained, goes even further than previously-used programs because it is interactive.

“A kid can basically show their math problem to the camera on the screen and the tutor can help them,” he commented. “They piloted this last year in a couple of places, and found that most kids used it for math and science.”

The math curriculum, Fillpot added, has evolved beyond simply numbers to become much more complex - making the subject that much more difficult for students to master.

“The way it is done now, and the thinking through it, is much different than when we learned math,” he pointed out.

While the tutoring is offered on a digital platform, Bettencourt said, students are receiving direct assistance from a tutor.

“It is an actual, real person helping them. Our students are going to have access until late into the evening to somebody who is talking with them and can walk them through math problems,” she said.

Students can schedule a session with a specific tutor if they find one they prefer, Bettencourt added, and the tutors will be providing feedback to the site.

Homework Help will be offered in core subject areas to middle school students and essentially all subject areas to high school pupils.

Tutoring in math will be offered through the school day - high school students could turn to the service in study hall, for example - and then open up to additional subject areas after 3 p.m.

Services are available on weekends as well as school days.

The tutoring is offered free of charge to students.

The Homework Help program is just one initiative in a comprehensive effort to boost student achievement, the administrators said.

Recent math and English language arts assessment test results showed only minimal gains from prior year testing - which was not an uncommon outcome among districts across the state, Bettencourt noted.

“I think we are maintaining,” Bettencourt reflected. “I know that we want to get better, but we are not an anomaly.”

“I want to be an anomaly,” Fillpot concluded, “in a positive way.”