"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Tutoring Companies on Needs Improvement List?

Only if there was such a list.

With a billion dollars a year drained from Title I funds nationwide each year, and with most of it going to the companies rooting to get their snouts in the soft dough, an actual study has been conducted in Minneapolis to ascertain if these corporate welfare cases are actually producing any results. Education Station, Catapult, or Sylvan Learning, Inc.--it is unclear as to which name applies--has been shown to produce no reading gains in the students they "tutored." After collecting $1.7 million for tutoring 1,266 students, no gains:
The dominant provider of required after-school tutoring in Minneapolis didn't produce any better reading gains last year than those for students who skipped tutoring.

That's the result of a new district analysis that scrutinized gains by elementary students who got after-school help that must be offered under the federal No Child Left Behind law.

District researcher David Heistad called the results "very disappointing." State officials, who approve tutoring providers, said they plan to review his findings.

The district gave special scrutiny to the Education Station program offered by Catapult Learning, a division of the company once known as Sylvan Learning. That's because 71 percent of the low-income Minneapolis students who elected tutoring and similar help under the law last year got it from Catapult. Catapult was paid $1.7 million last year by the district for tutoring 1,266 students.

One must wonder, in fact, what kind of results could be expected from any tutoring service that subjects students to more and more of what is not working during the regular school day. A better idea: give the $1.7 million to parents to buy clothing, food, health care, or job skills. More test drilling is only killing, and no one is getting ahead except Sylvan executives.

The naive among us must wonder why Grover Whitehurst, Mr. Science Guy at ED, has not already demanded DATA to back up this expenditure of federal tax money.

Fat chance, said the grunting pig.

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