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

Friday, June 13, 2008

NCLB Tutoring Helps Tutoring Companies, Not Poor Kids

When the privatizers shoved a tutoring mandate worth a billion dollars a year into the NCLB Act (to be paid for with Title I allotments) as a way to assuage the conservative loss of vouchers from the Bill, not even critics could have guessed what a waste of education money the corporate tutoring program would become.

From the Washington Post:

By Maria Glod
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 13, 2008; B01

Free tutoring that federal law prescribes to help students at struggling schools has yielded little or no positive effect on student test scores in Virginia, Maryland and several other states, according to early evaluations.

Under the six-year-old No Child Left Behind law, certain schools in which too many students fail math or reading exams must use federal funds to offer after-school or weekend tutoring to students from low-income families. In the 2006-07 school year, $595 million went to the fast-growing industry of for-profit and nonprofit tutoring providers. But it remains unclear whether or how much those extra lessons are boosting student performance, even though the law envisions them as a key way to narrow achievement gaps.

In Virginia, researchers compared the performance last year of students with identical or very similar math scores in 2006 and found that those who were tutored did no better than their peers, according to an analysis the state Department of Education released in April. In a similar comparison of reading scores, students who were tutored lagged behind those who weren't.

Studies in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Michigan and Kentucky also showed that the mandated tutoring, known as "supplemental educational services," didn't bump up test scores.

"This isn't helping poor kids," said Jack Jennings, president and chief executive of the Center on Education Policy in the District, which monitors implementation of the federal law. "All it's doing is taking money out of classrooms and putting it into the hands of private companies." . . .

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