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The No Child Left Behind Act requires public schools that have not made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for two consecutive years to offer children of low-income families the opportunity to receive supplemental educational services (SES). SES comes primarily in the form of tutoring offered outside of regular schools hours and is often provided by private entities. Schools failing to meet AYP requirements are required to set aside 20 percent of their Title I funding to pay for SES and to measure the effectiveness of tutoring on student achievement. How much impact does SES have on student achievement though? A recent report by the Center for American Progress sets out to answer this question as well as provide policy recommendations that aim to improve the SES program.
The report found that many states and school districts are extremely deficient in the evaluation and recording of SES providers and their results. A combination of self-reporting and unreliable data collection methods such as parent surveys has resulted in lack-luster evidence on the effectiveness of tutoring programs. In addition to the lack of sufficient data among states and districts, the number of tutoring hours that students receive is critical in the impact on student achievement. Research has proven the “magic” number to be 40 hours. Students receiving less than 40 hours of tutoring do not demonstrate any statistically significant gains in reading and math. The report also states that another problem with SES is that tutors do not have to have any specific training or meet certain requirements, therefore making it very difficult to have any consistency in the quality of tutors.
In light of an impending reauthorization of NCLB this report provides several policy recommendations that aim to make SES more effective. Among these recommendations are that students must receive more hours of tutoring, states and district must do a better job of monitoring the services provided and the costs associated with them, as well as increase coordination among tutors, parents, and teachers.
Many states, including Ohio have already begun to make changes to the SES program. As part of its recent waiver application for NCLB Ohio would disband the current tutoring program, and schools could use federal money to extend the school day or school year. If Ohio’s waiver application is accepted by the Department of Education this would be a welcome change in a tutoring program that currently has little accountability and results.