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

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Title I Funds to Tutoring Companies Shown Dump Worthy Once More

President Obama today:
What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
From the Detroit Free Press:
. . . ."It's [tutoring] not being taken advantage of by students, those who are taking advantage of it are not showing improvement in test scores, and the providers are not being rigorously monitored," said Jack Jennings, president of the Center for Education Policy, which recently released a nationwide study that found little academic gain from a program nationally. . . .

. . . .The No Child Left Behind law requires that students be offered tutoring, called Supplemental Education Services, paid for with federal Title I dollars, when their schools fail to meet performance standards for three consecutive years. Nationwide, it costs about $2.5 billion.

To gauge the effectiveness of the tutoring in Michigan, the Free Press reviewed fifth-, eighth- and ninth-grade MEAP results for 2005, 2006 and 2007 in selected subjects for schools required to provide tutoring. Among the findings:
  • The average increase in fifth-grade students meeting expectations in English at schools where tutoring on the MEAP test was required was 1.7 percenage points, compared to a 2.8 percentage point increase statewide.
  • Eighth-grade math showed a 4.7 percentage point bump for schools with tutoring but an 8.4 point increase statewide.
  • Ninth-grade social studies saw an average 15.4 percentage point decrease among schools forced to offer tutoring, compared to a 4 point decline statewide.
The tutoring sounds good in theory but is failing in practice, Jennings said. There are no educational requirements for tutors beyond a high school diploma, and nothing to guarantee students are tutored in the areas they need the most help. . . .


  1. I have always found SES to be a waste of money. It has created an entire industry around afterschool tutoring. Many students, schools and parents would be better off if the schools were mandated to do the tutoring, NOT hire someone else to do it. There can be conflicts between the regular school staff and the afterschool staff. Schools often give use of their facilities, and sometimes their teachers in order to accommodate the providers and companies like Platform Learning are making a killing. The bottom line is that SES takes public money to support private business.

  2. Anonymous11:47 AM

    SES Tutoring could be a fantastic use of tax payer money if the providers were more carefully monitored. In our State there are a number of great providers and a number of crappy ones. The good ones use certified teachers, work in groups of 1:1 or 2:1, and use diagnostic tools and curriculum that meet children where they are academically and more them forward from there.