In a local tutoring program, new students are assigned to a tutor for one-on-one assistance with academic subjects and homework help. Each of these students has a grade level and an academic need that may limit the tutor to whom they can be assigned. In addition, many students are diverse learners, have schedule limitations and/or learning barriers that further restrict the tutor who can serve them. In some cases, there is no appropriate tutor and the student must be wait-listed, but this is a situation the tutoring program strives to avoid.
Students and/or their parents initiate the initial admissions process for the tutoring program by filling out an application in-person or online. This application is then either scanned or forwarded to the admissions coordinator to determine the criteria for student placement. Items that determine placement for all students include student grade, area of academic need, and days/times of availability. If the application indicates the student has behavioral or learning issues, or a disability of any kind, then the admissions coordinator contacts the student’s school and requests information about his or her issues and needs. (The application requires the parents agree for the program to have access to school records, which they sign either on the form or electronically). The admissions coordinator then uses these materials to further limit the student to tutors who are able to meet his or her special requirements. If the student does not have any additional concerns, his or her application proceeds directly to tutor matching.
The admissions coordinator determines the time slots the student can attend tutoring, then looks at the available tutors during that time. She schedules the student to work with a tutor, and when possible, also notes any backup tutors who could also work with the student if necessary. Sometimes tutors work with two students at once if a tutor cannot come on that day, so the site manager needs to know what tutors can work with a particular student. The admissions coordinator then selects a tutor for the student and selects a day and time for orientation, typically the same day and time the student will be tutored. She emails the student/parent, tutor, and site manager with information about the meeting. This concludes the tutoring program's initial admissions process. The process map is visually presented in Appendix A
The current process generally functions well. Since there is one person doing the coordination, the organization does not experience the confusion or communication issues that might occur if more than one person was involved. Also, keeping scheduling centralized allows the coordinator to monitor how much of a given site’s capacity is being used, and to let parents on the waiting list know if there is availability at another site. However, there are several drawbacks to only having one coordinator. When she is out, admissions grind to a halt. Also, because she is scheduling for the entire organization, she does not know the tutors, as well as site managers, do, and therefore they may sometimes move students around after their initial assignment.
One of the most significant issues occurs for special needs students. There is really no process that occurs if schools do not return the requested information. Many times the student will fall between the cracks when documentation is not provided, and their application just sits around waiting for information that never comes. In some cases, the student will never begin the program, and in others the parents take over getting the documentation, which puts a burden on them and sometimes leaves them with negative feelings about the program before the student has even begun.
Two changes to the process would greatly improve efficiency and parent experience. First, a backup to the admissions coordinator needs to be trained to handle the process when she is unavailable, or at times such as the beginning of the school year when many people apply all at once. For example, one of the two development administrative assistants could undertake this role, which would optimize organizational use of staff as of August and early September are usually slow times for the development department.
In addition, a step needs to be added where follow-up occurs for documentation requests. If the admissions coordinator had a notification that alerted her two weeks after the request, she could email again and/or call to get the information, and if the documentation still was not sent, alert the parents and ask that they get it. The parents would have a better understanding of the delay and more students could be enrolled.
Since two improvements are proposed, two separate key performance measures are indicated, although both measures are similar. For the admissions coordinator backup, the average time between submission of an application and scheduling of orientation for non-waitlisted students would measure what improvements were achieved by having the backup. For the reminder to re-request information and to notify parents if documentation was still not received, a measure of the day s between application and enrollment for special needs students would indicate whether more documentation and more timely documentation was received. If the program implements a student/parent satisfaction survey, which has been proposed, this could provide another key performance indicator, satisfaction with the admissions process among special needs students and their families.
(Appendix A omitted for preview. Available via download)