Digital Equity Means More Than Access

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John represents TPR Education, including The Princeton Review and tutor.com. They aim to highlight their services for all students and districts, emphasizing equity and support structures. John discusses the evolution of remote tutoring, especially its impact on underserved communities. He also addresses the changing landscape of test preparation, focusing on digital SAT and training teachers. Additionally, John outlines two key focuses for the event: high-dosage tutoring and integrating AI into their services for faster and more insightful support.

Conversation highlights:

  • Equity and Support: TPR Education emphasizes providing support structures for all students and districts, highlighting their services’ accessibility and effectiveness, particularly for underserved communities.
  • Evolution of Remote Tutoring: The transcript illustrates how remote tutoring has evolved, especially during the pandemic, becoming more accepted and beneficial for students, particularly those in underserved areas.
  • Changing Landscape of Test Preparation: With the introduction of digital SATs and shifting educational priorities, there’s a focus on training teachers and providing effective test preparation services to adapt to these changes.
  • Focus on High-Dosage Tutoring and AI Integration: TPR Education is prioritizing high-dosage tutoring programs tailored to specific student needs and integrating AI into their services to provide faster and more insightful support, aiming to enhance student learning outcomes and streamline processes for educators and parents.

Below is a machine-generated transcript of the conversation

Kevin Hogan

OK. Hello and welcome to the latest episode of Innovations and Education, E School News. This podcast on the latest and greatest techniques and strategies happening in the Ed Tech world. My name is Kevin Hogan. I’m content director for E School News, and I’m happy you found us here today. In this episode, we bring you some more takeaways from this year’s FTC show in Orlando, FL. I had the chance to speak with John Calvello. He’s the VP of Institutional [email protected] and the Princeton. We were able to explore the evolving landscape of educational services and we particularly focused on remote tutoring and standardized testing. Obviously to of the particular services and products that are coming out from from John’s group, you can hear how high dosage tutoring programs are tailored to specific student needs. That can provide faster and more insightful support for educators and parents and students, obviously, especially when it comes to underserved schools and districts. It’s another aspect of the emerging strategies, technologies and initiatives that are aimed at bridging educational gaps and providing equitable opportunities for all students. Have a listen. OK, John. Thanks so much for your time today. I appreciate it.

John Calvello

Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me.

Kevin Hogan

This time I don’t know where you where are you clicking in from the. It is.

John Calvello

So I’m based outside of Philadelphia, but currently today it just happened to be in New York.

Kevin Hogan

All right, well, right in between in Trenton, NJ and we’re both freezing cold. So, but let’s get let’s get into it. So next week down in Florida kind of give us a background of of where you’re from, what you guys are doing and what you’re intending to bring to the table at FTC this year and what you’re hoping to take away.

John Calvello

But this is a really exciting event for us. You know where the bigger events that we do, TPR, education, true.com and the Princeton Review, we really want to make a a big presence. The theme that we have for our booth this year is called the equity grow, right? We’re two trusted partners, Princeton review cheer.com one incredible team and really the overall thing that we want to do this year. And we have services for all students, no matter where you are in your educational career. We have something that can help those students and really be a great support structure or for districts or schools for admins, right? So and so between both organizations, the Princeton Review and cheer.com. We have over 65 years of experience, you know, working with schools and districts and helping families. We’re looking to do is take all of our core services, meet tons of great new people, administrators talk to our partners and really try to find out what is the need that you have and how can we help.

Kevin Hogan

Interestingly, you talk about the the equity piece of it amongst all the other things that were turned on their heads over the past few years. Was this idea of DEI is the acronym that people were using but. The pandemic brought into stark reality a lot of the inequities that were out there, one of which obviously was the idea of tutoring. I know the perception BP before the pandemic was that was kind of something for. I mean, let’s just say it to rich kids, right? I mean, that was it was something that was a bonus for people who could afford. To bring it to the if the student is struggling their parents, or if they’re in a wealthy school district, might have those sort of resources where in underserved communities it. Isn’t there? It seems that the platform, the remote platform of tutoring you look at, Khan Academy, I guess it’s probably poster child, but then other products and services such as yours is giving those underserved communities more of an opportunity than may be in the past.

John Calvello

Yeah. And I think it’s, it’s a great way to reach as many students as we can, especially underserved students. And one of the things that I’m really proud of for a long time right over 20. Years we have been doing tons and tons of work with different kinds of programs. We’ve been supporting gear programs for a long time, especially around even things like test preparation, right. So we’re really trying to drive first time generation college bound students and families and historically, you know he’s never taken. Standardized tests that translator student who’s not familiar with it, right? So just really do whatever we can to drive exposure or understanding how a test works on the test prep side of the business. And then with cheer.com, you know we’ve been around for over 20 years. And believe now actually started in the library space before everyone had a 1 to 1 device, because libraries were really innovative and that was the great way to get in front of students and families who didn’t have a computer at home may not have had Internet access and could go somewhere in their community. To get real time tutoring, that’s actually how we started.com business. And then we really built it from there, right. So you know, integrating our work into districts all over the country, helping drive scale. But this underlying theme of getting students what they need at that exact moment when they’re stuck, right. And that’s where so many. Students lose hope, they get frustrated, they give up, right? So having that resource to anyone, I mean, that really makes such an impact in students and families. Lives. That’s a big part of what we’re trying to do.

Kevin Hogan

So kind of what is the state of play right now when it comes to remote tutoring again? I mean, as I mentioned, there is there seemed that there was a forced acceleration during COVID, right where people are using it now we’re back to whatever. Normal is, but have general behaviors. Change or be are people more accepting of the idea of having a tutoring session online than maybe they were before kind of give us where you see the space right now.

John Calvello

Yeah. I mean, I think the space is continuing to evolve. One of things I think about after the pandemic is how quickly K K12 is evolve. Usually it’s a slower space, right, it and now there’s so many changes happening. And when the pandemic hit, everything was about questions of scale, right? Students are in the classrooms or home. We need to get something the students can easily. Access and they can get that real time support exactly that moment of need and there still is a ton of need for that, right? Students still need that wrap around service. They it’s incredibly helpful. We just completed an S level two study through learned platform where you know we’ve made lots and lots of improvements for our you know, our partners where students are seeing an increase in. There are Gpas reducing the percentage of D’s and apps for students increasing attendance, so we’re seeing we’re making big, measurable impacts with our own. The thing I am see changing is really now becoming specific of different types of students need different kinds of support, right? It’s still great that all students can get this wrap around service that access and that’s why we launched our high dosage tutor. We really wanted to make sure if there was a specific subset of students that really need algebra readiness. You know, we’re triggering from 8th grade into ninth grade. They need a very particular curriculum. They need something that is pre scheduled multiple times a week St. Trader. So we launched that right because needs are changing. Not everybody always needs everything. It’s never been that way. And so we really wanted to then start, you know, holding in listening to our partners still offering the wrap around service because it’s incredibly beneficial. It makes an impact. But then we’re really sitting down and figuring out these are the students that we really. Need to move. The needle on how do we have a program that does that high dose sharing is a way that we started to launch that. So I’m seeing that kind of need change in this space.

Kevin Hogan

Yeah, well, let’s flip over to the assessment side. The prison review side, I mean that there’s certainly a lot of upheaval during the past few years when it comes to standardized testing or take the temperature. Uh, on on that side of the.

John Calvello

Yeah, I mean. I think like test preparation has has really been a state by state thing, right? So certain states. Really funded. Really. Pay attention to it. Like places like New York, New Jersey, Texas, right. They always sort of had this like. Hold and making sure like big push and and spending allocations for test preparation. And so now that you have the digital S at you know we’re seeing a lot of interest in how can we train teachers in the classroom who want to be able to understand how this test type works and make sure they know how it works and they can help their students be successful in it. Make sure it doesn’t feel like something they’ve never seen before, right? So we’re spending a lot of time training teachers how to deliver print serving contents in the classroom. Then we also run courses in different programs throughout the country as well. If they want to use. Our staff, our tutors.

Kevin Hogan

Yeah. So I guess two other questions, so down to the show floor there, anything in particular that you’re going to be highlighting when it comes to your, your products and services that our our, our readers and our our listeners should look out for?

John Calvello

Yeah. I mean, so one certainly I think people are familiar with. Interview test part, but we’ll have that people understood and I think on demand is something people are really familiar with, but two things that we’re really excited to talk to more partners about and you know people that we’re gonna meet one is you know the work we’re doing with high dosage, right so get we really aligned to ourselves to the Annenberg. Things to really looking at. You know what makes that kind of tutoring successful? What moves the needle right and so how to work with partners to deliver tutoring 3 * a week, you know, small group instruction assessment based, high quality curriculum, right, building that relational, you know learning right. So it’s a big part of what we’re going to be doing. We actually just won the general’s new product. The year word for high dose. Meetings and then the other piece that’s really exciting. The other launching in 24 is the work that we’re also doing around incorporating AI into our on demand services, whether that’s through an AI chat bot or an essay review. Really a great way where we can take all the methodology, the things that we know that’s made us really successful with tutoring. And train an AI around. To give students. Faster support pumping them with an essay within 3 seconds, but really important to not rewrite an essay that’s not beneficial. We’re really giving students clarity on something like how strong is your thesis statement, beginning, middle and end source, right? So really what we want to do is to use our AI skills that we have. And give additional resources to our partners to go faster to have no insights. So they’re doing the things that we’re looking to bring to FTC and have lots of great courses.

Kevin Hogan

Well, we always made it 10 minutes without talking about AI, so that was pretty good.

John Calvello

Yeah, I got to bring.

Kevin Hogan

But obviously that is going to continue to be, I’m sure the the main theme going forward down in Florida, so many different aspects of that are are positive. And I think as the hype goes away, people are starting to see the real value in it. But as you said, just the way in which it’s implemented. And also teaching students and their teachers and their parents the proper way to use this.

John Calvello

Yeah. I mean, I think when I think about AI, right, a lot of it to me or especially when you incorporate. It’s really about driving insights driving data right? I don’t believe that all of a sudden it’s going to be it’s going to fix everything for every student, right? It if it gives them an opportunity to rewrite and submit an essay two or three times before they turn it in. To a teacher, that’s a great way and they get more practice, you know, before the teacher gives them the final grade in their feedback. Right. So they’re evolving, they’re getting more drafts than which I see is a really powerful tool. But then giving all that insights to the staff or where they come to us for how many drafts did they submit? You know what are the parents seeing? So really then getting all that data back to me, that’s a lot of the value, the insights. That are happening and always making sure that students are doing the work right. So the student that does the work is going to be the students that’s doing the learning, right? So I think that’s for us. That’s an important thing for us to really remember.

Kevin Hogan

And that about wraps it up for this episode of Innovations in education, be sure to go up to eschoolnews.com and click on innovations and education where you can find an entire archive of conversations and other information that I’ve been having with the leading experts in the Ed tech field. I think you’ll find something there that can help with your everyday work as well as a bigger picture of what’s happening in the world of education and technology. So thanks for listening and I hope you find another episode soon.

Kevin Hogan
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