Third and fourth graders at Crocker Arts and Technology School are getting a little more attention this year. Two para-educators were hired in an effort to improve students’ academic performance and standardized test scores.

The teacher’s aides began work Oct. 15. They assist small groups of about five students who rank below their class levels, to gain a better understanding of the students’ work.

Since then, Principal Charmaine Robertson says, there has been noticeable advancement.

The average class size for third and fourth graders before the aides were hired was about 26 students per teacher.

“Having the para-educators reduces class sizes and the student-teacher ratio. The students having difficulties now get small group and sometimes individual instruction,” Robertson said.

Bringing in the additional help proved to be of benefit for Crocker in another area, as well. One of the para-professionals hired is also a librarian.

“I got more bank for the buck,” Robertson said. “With us having this big library now, one of my desires was to have a librarian so the kids would have assistance from an experienced librarian to learn things like where and how to to look for certain information and more.”

Another way school officials are helping students is through after school and Saturday tutoring lessons, when two teachers stay to help with homework and provide additional instruction.

The teachers are paid $25 per hour and tutoring lasts an hour and 15 minutes.

“Tutoring attendance is definitely picking up which I’m really happy about,” Robertson said.

Part of the reason for the increase in attendance has to do with the school’s new facility and its new extra-curricular activities.

“Unfortunately, what I notice from a lot of parents’ feedback about the school is ‘are they going to have a band?’ ‘Are they going to have basketball?’ Some parents seem to care more about the social things,” Robertson said. “So we are forming a girls basketball team now and a majorette team. But part of having the chance to participate in these things is to keep a certain [grade] average and to do that, we make it mandatory that more of them start coming to tutoring.”

Board members in attendance included: Chairwoman Grisela Jackson, Simonne Robinson, Mary Ellen Alexander, Secretary Shaun Rafferty, Stephen Boyard, and Treasurer John Tobler. John Jones was absent.

Crocker’s next board meeting will be held Saturday, Nov. 17 at 11 a.m. It is scheduled a week earlier due to Thanksgiving.