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

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Private Tutoring Companies Are Not Accountable

Under NCLB, public school teachers must meet federal regulations that determine what a “highly qualified” teacher is. However, private supplemental education service (SES) providers do not have to meet any federal regulations regarding who they hire, how they are trained, and whether or not they are qualified to teach. Moreover, unlike the accountability provisions that public schools must adhere to, there is no federal requirement that tracks the success or failure of these private supplemental educational service providers. And yet millions of dollars have already poured into these private companies and, without significant changes in the law, will continue to do so.

According to a 4/5/06 report from the federal dept. of ed, states are trying to fill in the gap in the federal law. However, according to the report:

  • 15 states had not established any monitoring process of SES providers at all
  • 25 states had not yet established any standards for evaluating provider effectiveness
  • none had finalized their evaluation standards

17 states said they will evaluate student achievement on state assessments, although only one of these plans to use a matched control group. The most common approaches that states have implemented to monitor providers, according to the federal report, are surveying the districts about provider effectiveness (25 states) and using providers’ reports on student-level progress (18 states).

Other relevant facts:

  • The number of state-approved supplemental service providers has tripled over the past two years, rising from 997 in May 2003 to 2,734 in May 2005.
  • Private firms accounted for 76 percent of approved providers in May 2005.
  • A growing number and percentage of faith-based organizations have obtained state approval, rising from 18 providers (2 percent of providers) in May 2003 to 249 (9 percent) in May 2005.

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