Detroit public schools bet big on district-wide tutoring program

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William Wheeler was working his way through a phonics exercise with his tutor on a rainy Thursday morning. 

“Night. Coupon. Disease,” William said out loud, reading from a list of words as his tutor, Erica McLemore, looked on in a classroom at Osborn High School in Detroit. 

By the end of the minute-long exercise, William had run through a long list of words three times, reading nearly all of them with precision and faltering only once, for a split second, on the ‘ow’ sound of the word “ouster.”

When he was done, he high-fived McLemore.

William, a sophomore, wasn’t always so confident. A year ago, he shied away from reading out loud in class, fearing he “was going to mess up.”