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

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

New Report on NCLB Tutoring Sinkhole

A new policy brief from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice finds that the corporate "foot in the door," as Sen. Judd Gregg described the tutoring provision, has turned in a dollar drain for the poorest of schools, who must, as a part of their accountability plan commit 20% of their Title 1 funds to pay corporate tutoring outfits who are entirely unaccountable for results. Sound like a Bush plan?

EAST LANSING, Mich., (May 1, 2007) – Supplemental Education Services, a key component of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act, has been adopted and implemented with little evidence to support its effectiveness according to a new policy brief funded by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The policy brief, “Supplemental Education Services under NCLB: Emerging Evidence and Policy Issues,” is by Patricia Burch, Ph.D of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The brief examines the supplemental education services (SES) provision of NCLB, which requires school districts to pay the cost of after-school tutoring services for eligible students attending schools that have failed to meet mandated Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) benchmarks three years in a row. Those schools must set aside up to 20 percent of their Title I funds to pay for third-party tutoring services provided by state-approved providers. Currently, this field of providers is dominated by private, for-profit companies.

The report finds that SES programs have low participation rates and offer limited services for English Language Learners and special education students. It also finds that states and school districts lack the capacity to offer significant monitoring or accountability for SES programs—in stark contrast to the NCLB law’s strict accountability measures applied to the schools themselves.

The report emphasizes the overwhelming lack of evidence to support (or refute) the wisdom of the SES policy. The report states, “existing research offers little information about specific conditions that support positive outcomes” from supplemental education services provided under the law. “To make well-informed decisions in the future, policy makers will require additional empirical evidence.”

The report recommends policy makers redesign NCLB to commission federally funded studies that assess the effectiveness of SES programs and their accessibility to at-risk students. It also offers concrete recommendations for amending NCLB to assist local school districts and state education agencies in administering SES programs.

The full policy brief is available at http://www.greatlakescenter.org.

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