Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Feds' money for tutoring required by NCLB seems ineffective; schools want to spend it differently

School districts across the country are finding that taxpayer-funded tutoring required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act has not helped their schools, and in rural areas where tutoring services are not readily available, districts have found it consistently difficult to comply with NCLB standards.

Julie Hubbard of The Tennessean reports that the tutoring provision was added to NCLB as a way to help low-income students in schools that fail to meet testing benchmarks for three or more years. This forced districts to set aside 20 percent of federal funding for tutoring services. Jack Jennings, president and CEO of the Center on Education Policy, told Hubbard that only about a fifth of students qualifying for tutoring actually apply to receive it, and what tutors teach doesn't line up with what students encounter in the classroom. Only one of four research studies showed tutoring had a positive effect.

Tennessee is one of three states whose education departments are asking the federal Department of Education to let them use money set aside for tutoring services in other ways that have been proven to help students, such as instituting longer days. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has written a draft waiver proposal that would give districts discretion in how they spend this money, but House Republicans oppose the plan because they say parents should have options and tutoring allows private industry to be involved in schools. (Read more)

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