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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Tutoring group criticizes Arne Duncan's criticism of Florida tutoring program

U.S. Education secretary Arne Duncan's displeased appraisal of Florida's decision to fund SES tutoring despite its No Child Left Behind waiver didn't go unnoticed by the tutoring providers who are trying to protect their jobs.

The Tutor Our Children Coalition, established specifically to "save free tutoring" as offered to children through NCLB, quickly issued a statement decrying what it considered Duncan's disparaging remarks. (“Why is Florida keeping the set-aside for tutoring that is showing little or no impact on children?” Duncan asked at one point. “Is it because of pressure from the industry?”)

The coalition's Stephanie Monroe responded:

"Secretary Duncan’s comment today on free tutoring services offered to low-income students at under-performing schools misrepresents the program  and does a disservice to the 74,000 students who access free tutoring in Florida. While Secretary Duncan recognized the importance tutoring can have on a child’s education, his misplaced criticism of the Supplemental Education Services program is rooted in a flawed study that the New York University Metropolitan Center on Urban Education has shown to be statistically invalid.  

In contrast to the Secretary Duncan’s faulty data, a Rand Corporation study shows that students participating in the program experienced statistically significant gains in both reading and mathematics achievement and that those gains were greater than for nonparticipating students. In addition, the Rand study shows that African American and Hispanic students, as well as students with disabilities experienced significant positive achievement effects due to their SES participation.

We believe that the SES program should have high standards and accountability and applaud Florida’s legislature for bringing greater oversight and accountability to the program.  In fact, Florida’s law serves as a model for federal legislation introduced by Senator McCain, which we support.

We call on states to follow Florida’s and Senator McCain’s lead to maintain free tutoring as part of their education reform."

We have never seen any state data on the tutoring providers' results. We have heard anecdotally that the services are hit and miss, and that district officials would gladly stop spending millions on the system because they don't see it as efficient and effective. What have your experiences been?

[Last modified: Sunday, May 20, 2012 7:49am]


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