For the second time in two weeks, D.C. school officials are appealing for volunteer tutors. This time help is needed for a new program called Operation Outreach, designed to assist students in 4th through 12th grades at 78 schools.

Officials are not yet sure how many students will participate in the program and so have set no target for the number of tutors they hope to recruit, according to Connie Spinner, coordinator for volunteer services and head of Operation Outreach. The first tutoring sessions may begin next week, she said.

Sessions will be held after school at libraries, recreation centers, churches and schools.

School officials announced Operation Outreach Friday, just two weeks after launching Operation Rescue, a program to recruit 1,000 volunteers to help the more than 6,000 youngsters in grades one through three who failed to master enough skills in reading and math to be promoted at midyear under the system's new, stiffer promotion standards.

Operation Outreach will be conducted in the upper grades of elementary schools in which large numbers of students failed to meet these same new standards. The program also will be conducted in junior high and schools attended by students from these elementary schools.

School official decided to seek volunteers to tutor students in higher grades partly because the more stringent promotion standards go into effect for students in grades four through six next September, and school officials anticipate that many youngsters will have difficulty with them. "Operation Outreach is a preventive measure," Spinner explained. Eventually, specific promotion standards will be instituted for every grade.

School officials emphasized that volunteers for the tutoring programs will not take the place of classroom teachers, but will provide assistance outside class for students needing additional help in reading and math.

Operation Outreach will be an ongoing program, but Operation Rescue will be in effect only from March 16 to May 18. Spinner said that the school system hopes to have enough funds next year to hire the necessary teaching personnel to help students in grades one through three who have reading and math problems.

Operation Rescue, headed by former D.C. City Council president Sterling Tucker, has attracted about 500 volunteers who will work four hours a week between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the schools. Some of these volunteers -- particularly those who prefer to work after regular school hours -- are being referred to Operation Outreach.

About 100 community organizations, including the D.C. Federation of Civic Association Inc., the D.C. Congress of Parents and Teachers and the League of Women Voters, have offered the services of their members, school officials said.

Washington Gas Light Co., the Potomac Electric Power Co., IBM and Woodward & Lothrop have offered the services of their employees to serve on the Operation Rescue administrative staff, Tucker said.

"We have heard from retired people, fraternities and sororities, wives of people on Capitol Hill and just plain Joes and Janes . . . . Some have been teachers. Most have college training," Tucker said.

Local religious leaders have joined in the drive and many churches have agreed to declare Sunday as Operation Rescue Day and seek volunteers from their congregations.