LIGHTNING RELEASES: A+ Tutoring/Test Preparation (Mason, OH) Mason, Ohio, may have just become a trend starter for the rest of the nation for early SAT and ACT test prep: at least that is, if you ask Michael DiSalvo, founder of A+ Tutoring/Test Preparation. Mr DiSalvo, who has his own tutoring service in the Mason area, was not really trying to help younger students with SAT and ACT skills when he first started. “When I began test prep about ten years ago, I really thought of SAT and ACT tutoring as being proper for juniors and seniors,” he says. Two events changed that.
“One day I read Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right from Wrong by William Kilpatrick and it made me think about the lack of critical thinking in our young people today,” Michael comments. The book, in what might be considered a companion to John Taylor Gatto’s Dumbing Us Down, disparages the sea change in psychology and philosophy behind the revamping of public and private education in the 1960s. “I began to see that the a lack of focus on memorization and critical thinking was still preventing students from doing their best on standardized tests like the SAT and ACT.” The second event was a phone call. “A colleague called me up one day asking if I could teach some SAT and ACT classes for some of his students. Upon further discussion, I was surprised to learn that he had previously set up SAT and ACT programs for students as young as sixth grade.” The book and the phone call made sense together. “Why not teach a system of critical thinking to both young students and older students?” Michael thought. After all, he himself had taken the SAT in 7th grade as part of the Duke Talent Identification Program (TIP). The conversation about teaching younger students turned into year-round SAT and ACT prep classes at a new learning center in Mason.
Mr DiSalvo has implemented his system with younger students with great results. Not only has the center see one of its 7th grade (now 10th grade) students end up with a perfect score on the SAT, but through tutoring, Mr DiSalvo has even seen one of his 5th grade Mason students (now 7th grade) end up with a perfect score on the Explorer test qualifying him for the same TIP program that he himself participated in. “Some people are shocked to hear that I use a college freshman grammar book to prep my younger students in our SAT and ACT tutoring and classes,” Michael remarks. They forget that this is the same material our country was using at the end of primary school in the 1950s that created people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. The difference is that I am teaching it in an easy to understand system.” But, as far as Mr DiSalvo is concerned, what was started in Mason shouldn’t stay in Mason. “I know I have an edge with a background in classical psychology and classical philosophy, but with a little research, many more tutors can create a system like mine to show students how to use their critical thinking skills in ways these students never thought possible. The right blend of memorization and systematic thinking is a powerful mix. What have we got to lose by showing students how to make the most of those critical thinking powers that just need developing?”