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Heart Math Tutoring (“Heart Tutoring”) exists to give young students successful experiences with math, knowing that early success in math leads to later success in math – and beyond.

Success in math is an important piece of the equation for opportunity and economic mobility. Research shows that school-entry math skills impact later academic skills not only in math, but also in literacy (Greg Duncan, 2007)!  Elementary math proficiency matters for a student’s self-identity as a successful student, middle school preparedness, high school graduation, and postsecondary and career options. 75% of U.S. jobs require a high school diploma (U.S. BLS, 2015), and 75% of the fastest growing occupations require significant math or science preparation (AdeccoUSA, 2016).

When young students have successful experiences in math, they are also building important lifelong skills:

  • Perseverance
  • Problem-solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Confidence
  • Purpose

Proficiency rates:

Our community is missing out on significant potential when just 49% of Charlotte 4th graders are proficient in math. Without intervention, math scores tend to decline as course difficulty increases, with math proficiency rates dropping to 41% by 8th grade (2019 NAEP). By the time students reach algebra, of those who fail the first time they take the course, less than 20% and 9% pass on the second and third try, respectively. (Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning at WestEd study).

Building a stronger foundation:

Many students who are already falling behind in elementary school have not developed “number sense” – a conceptual understanding of how numbers work. Instead, students rely on memorized rules and procedures without a deep understanding of what they are doing and why, leaving them unprepared for higher levels of math.

Place Value:

“Can you show me what the ‘1’ in ‘16’ means?”


8 + 4 = [ ] + 5

Place Value:

A number contains 18 tens, 2 hundreds, and 4 ones. What is that number?

Half of 3rd graders in the study could not explain this.

Constance Kamil, PhD and Early Childhood Education Professor

Only 2% of 6th graders responded with the correct answer.

Carpenter, Franke, & Levi, 2003

50% of 5,000 middle school students could answer this task correctly.

Greyson Wheatley, PhD and Professor Emeritus of Mathematics Education

Students benefit from targeted intervention:

“The kind of mathematical thinking that can provide a foundation for learning algebra must be developed over an extended period of time, starting in the early elementary grades.” Carpenter, Franke, Levi, Integrating Arithmetic and Algebra in Elementary School

Number sense, or numeracy, can be developed through targeted, hands-on experiences with numbers! (Results)

Teachers do all they can but have limited capacity to provide one-on-one attention to students, and not all families can afford the cost of private tutoring. In response, Heart Tutoring connects students with one-on-one volunteer-delivered tutoring during the school day, free of charge to families. Heart Tutoring’s activity-based, structured curriculum and real-time staff support enables volunteers to be successful with a commitment of one hour per week and minimizes day-to-day work for school staff.

Equity as a strategy:

Heart Tutoring’s mission and math strategies apply to all students, but we strategically focus first on students who may not have access to resources for private tutoring. Over 90% of Heart Tutoring students are people of color, reflecting the demographic makeup of high-poverty concentration schools in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) and the barriers to wealth generation people of color have faced in the United States (sources – CMS Breaking the Link report and Center for American Progress). While math skills and confidence play a tremendous role in unlocking opportunity in Heart Tutoring students’ lives, we know our students are also impacted by issues of race. The Heart Tutoring board and staff are committed to engaging in dialogue and training on issues of racial equity and to ensuring that our students experience empathy, compassion, and empowerment in the program. Read more from our team here and here.

program heart math tutoring tutor charlotte results
Over half of fourth graders in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) are not proficient in math (2019 NAEP).