A new tech company is all about improving the lives of tutors.
Clark, a New York City-based platform, is a paid service that handles the administrative tasks of tutors — from payments to scheduling to communicating with clients — so private educators can more efficiently run their businesses, in turn helping them provide more tutoring hours to families.
With classrooms filled to the max, tutoring is something that more parents may be seeking out, too, said Clark founder Megan O’Connor.
“There is a teacher shortage. Schools need to fit more kids into the classroom, meaning if you fall behind, you’re going to need a tutor to make sure you stay on grade level,” O’Connor said. “What we’ve never seen before is for that to be something needed at this level of volume.”
The service has been in invite-only beta form since the spring and is opening its services to the larger tutoring public Oct. 3 — which also marks the start of National Tutoring Week.
amNewYork spoke with O’Connor about the Clark.
Why is something like Clark needed?
People who are tutors have 30 clients or 30 employers at any given time. Giving kids feedback becomes extraordinarily difficult. The pain points of how to run your own business until this point had been ignored [by the tech industry].
How can Clark help families?
Tutors are going to be available to a family all the time because they leverage the Clark service for things like support. The great thing is a family gets weekly reports on how their kids are doing — we manage the storage and reporting on that and make it so that kids can monitor their progress through the tutoring as well. I think there’s great technology in the classroom to see how kids are doing and keep things on track, but that has yet to exist in the private market.
Can parents use it to find tutors?
The Clark service does help people find tutors. We have in-network matching. The idea is that anyone can contact us saying they need help contacting a great tutor because we’re a virtual assistant.
What’s the range of tutors using Clark?
What you can definitely tell from the Clark service is that there is a wide range of tutors, and there’s no one size fits all model for being a private educator. We have phenomenal test prep professionals that have been doing this for years, music instructors, K-12 in a wide range of subjects, from creative writing to math. Our strongest group is with test prep. It’s also interesting that some of the tutors that have used Clark are very specific learning specialists — for help with reading comprehension, dyslexia, even work with kids who are terminally ill. They really are these amazing people that are at the front lines of the education crisis making sure kids are getting the help they need.
When might it be time to get a tutor?
A parent would want a tutor as soon as they find their kid isn’t getting the test scores that they feel they could and feel like they’re not reaching their potential. Some kids need more repetition — having that individual instructor who knows you and your learning patterns can make a massive impact on how a kid will do. At the end of the day, it’s so much better to have somebody watch your learning pattern and watch the way you learn. When you’re in a massive classroom, there are 30 different kids who all learn a different way. It’s a great way to be introduced to topics, but you need a customized way to get it in your brain.
How can families get the most out of a tutor?
I think that the most important thing that Clark does is week-on-week tracking. Historically, families aren’t privy to their kids’ tutoring relationships. For a parent to have a portal to what’s happening during the tutoring hour through Clark’s tutoring reports, they can benchmark the progress week to week.
What are some of the takeaways from the reports?
The major takeaway you learn from these reports is how parents can participate as well — what a parent can reinforce at home. It’s also a great way for them to set expectations. This actually helps parents get a realistic view into what is achievable based on how their kid is doing week to week.
How do you see Clark growing?
What we want to do is when we scale is provide more tutoring hours to the New York City marketplace. By supercharging the current tutors that work in New York, we’re going to open up more hours so they can work with more students.