Blind eye on tutoring?
The vast majority of states don't know whether the private tutors they've been mandated to pay through No Child Left Behind are effectively helping students learn, concludes a national report released Wednesday. State education officials in 38 states told the Center on Education Policy that to a great extent they've been unable to gauge the quality of private tutors, which schools districts are required to offer to students in high-poverty schools that fail to meet No Child standards three years in a row.
The reasons given most often: Not enough staff. Not enough money. "Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on an unaccountable project," Jack Jenning, the center's president and CEO, told The Gradebook Wednesday morning. "The irony is that politicians would not allow public schools to spend hundreds of millions of dollars without accountability."
Last year, 585,000 students nationwide – and tens of thousands in Florida – took advantage of the No Child tutoring provision at a cost of $400 million. Supporters say private tutors will provide struggling students with extra help, but critics say that money is being spent with little proof that students are benefiting. The U.S. Department of Education "is showing a blind eye when it comes to private schools and private companies," continued Jennings, who's testifying before Congress today on the re-authorization of No Child.
The CEP report does not offer a state-by-state breakdown, because state officials who were surveyed were offered anonymity in order to freely comment about No Child Left Behind. An official at the Florida Department of Education said Wednesday that an analysis of tutoring providers in the Sunshine State will be out within a few weeks.
- Ron Matus, state education reporter