I taught middle school English and Social Studies and found it very difficult. As a tutor, it can be more difficult. Kids are going through so many changes, you don't know from day to day who is showing up.
I have been working with a 7th grader from an immigrant family who was showing all the signs of adolescent asimulation. He does as much work as necessary to pass. NY has just started the new CORE testing. I found out everything there was about the new format and then scoured the net for more challenging 7th and 8th grade ELA tests. I was looking for hard essay questions in particular because my young man does not like to write. I pushed and shoved him into writing. He took the test and it was easy. Most of his fellow students did not know or did not realize the essay requirements. He was prepared.
I thought that young teens today are so much worse than when I grew up. I just got a lesson this week. I reread To Kill a Mockingbird for interest and to help another student with his essay work. As the story progresses, Jem become difficult for everyone.... that was 1930s.
Today, I had a great lesson with my middle school boy. The tests are over as I decided to have fun with him. I prepared a Sherlock Holmes story as a dialogue. He was Sherlock, of course. It was like dbq with short answers after key passages but geared for the great thing about these stories..........inference and conclusions. We laughed and had fun and he wrote those short answers without much effort on my part.
Live and learn.