Tutor.com hopes to improve teaching by providing on-demand, one-to-one support for math teachers starting this year.

Tutor.com, which connects students with live tutors online for tutoring in math, science, social studies, and English, is the largest online tutoring and homework help service available—and, with help from a $1.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the company is expanding its horizons to help teachers as well.

Thanks to the grant, awarded last November, the company hopes to help improve U.S. teaching by offering an innovative new professional development model that will provide on-demand, one-to-one support for math teachers starting this year.

Approximately 200 algebra teachers from selected schools will be able to access the service beginning in September 2011 and running through December 2012. Participating teachers will be able to connect with online teaching coaches for on-demand, one-to-one live help from Sunday through Thursday, 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. local time. Coaches will be standing by and will provide live help within minutes of a teacher request, Tutor.com says.

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Research shows that one of the most important factors in a student’s academic success is the quality of his or her classroom teacher. To maintain excellence in teaching, school districts must find new ways to provide the guidance and help that teachers need every day. But too often, professional development for teachers means sitting in a room and listening to a lecture a few times each year. Tutor.com believes that, to significantly move the needle on teacher effectiveness, schools and districts must provide new ways to support their teachers.