Published: November 3, 2004
By Karla Scoon Reid
Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, Title I schools that fail to reach state goals for making adequate yearly progress must offer such tutoring to students from poor families. But districts that miss their state’s academic benchmarks are barred from using federal money to provide those supplemental educational services and must leave the tutoring to others—mainly private companies.
Although preliminary data show that
That move has put
“If they can no longer be SES providers, it will be very harmful to students,” said Becky Watts, a spokeswoman for the Illinois State Board of Education.
Meanwhile, the 63,000-student
Regardless of a district’s circumstance, Nina Shokraii Rees, the deputy undersecretary in charge of the federal Education Department’s office of innovation and improvement, stressed during a September interview that the law’s guidelines are unambiguous. School systems that don’t make the grade can’t run tutoring programs using federal money, she said. ("District-Run Tutoring Classes in Jeopardy," Sept. 29, 2004.)
Ms. Rees, who was unavailable for further comment last week, was
expected to send a letter to
Some observers question the federal Education Department’s motives in prohibiting districts in need of improvement from tutoring.
They point to the federal guidelines requiring districts to tutor pupils who have disabilities or are learning English if private providers can’t meet such students’ needs. For many districts, the academic performance of those same groups of students often lands them in “needs improvement” status.
Nancy Van Meter, a specialist on privatization for the American Federation of Teachers, said the federal government gives private companies license to serve students who potentially are more profitable to tutor.
“It’s another example of a broader approach by the Bush administration to tilt the playing field in favor of privatization,” she contended.
Added Joel Packer, who tracks policy for the National Education Association: “The [federal] Department of Education has said time and again that these are not failing schools. These are not failing school districts. No Child Left Behind just says you need improvement. Now, it seems to be that they’re trying to have it both ways.”
Xavier E. Botana, the director of No Child Left Behind Act
accountability for the district, said
Platform Learning, a New York City-based company, is tutoring more
Meanwhile, some districts that are prohibited under the same rules from tutoring students are finding different strategies to help them.
At least two private tutoring providers have appealed the state’s approval of the unit as a tutoring provider to the federal Education Department. Fernando Gallard, a spokesman for the 190,000-student district, said it sought a cost-effective way to serve more students.
In the Seminole County, Fla., school district, four schools that
met achievement goals have formed the
Marjorie C. Murray, the director of special projects for the
Sanford-based district, said the alliance would hire district teachers for
one-on-one tutoring at the schools. Other
Vol. 24, Issue 10, Page 3
“District-Run Tutoring Classes in Jeopardy,” September 29, 2004.
“Ed. Dept. Says States Set Rules on Tutoring,” September 8, 2004.
“Tutoring Aid Falling Short Of Mandate,” February 25, 2004.
For background, previous stories, and Web links, read No Child Left Behind.