Thursday, October 12, 2006

Tutoring charade

One of the NCLB provisions calls for tutoring students after school. "Tutoring" may have a specific meaning in the minds of lawmakers but leads to a travesty when not nailed down in the law. In bureaucratese, "tutoring" as demanded by the law is known as Supplemental Educational Services (SES). It turns out that "tutoring" can mean anything private SES companies -- many of which are raking in big bucks in mass operations -- wish it to mean.

Here is an example of a SES company advertising for "tutors" in the Chicago area:

Tutor 6th grade students in math and reading...

[...]

We provide all materials and curriculum. The curriculum is hands-on and utilizes multiple intelligences. Students love it! Students learn math and reading by solving mysteries, playing games, acting out plays, and doing art projects. The program makes learning and teaching fun!
I think it takes more than "solving mysteries, playing games, acting out plays, and doing art projects" to become proficient in math. Once again, the disadvantaged who are supposed to benefit from the law are being short-changed. Nobody in officialdom seems to be watching.

8 comments:

rightwingprof said...

Well sure, tutoring is a business. It's going to depend wholly on who you hire as a totor, isn't it? It's been like this as long as I can remember on university campuses.

parentalcation said...

We had a terrible time with our 5th grader last year. She was eligible for "tutoring" because of NCLB, so we went to the meeting that gave us a list of companies to choose from. We selected a company because they were the only ones to say that they offered tutoring in Math. When she started tutoring though, they pulled a bait and switch, and put her in "reading" tutoring even though she was reading at a 7th grade level. We had to contact the district office and the vice president of the company to get them to provide a math tutor. It seems that its alot easier to qualify someone as a "reading" tutor than it is to qualify as a "math" tutor. When they finally offered the "math" tutoring they did a survey of the kids to see which ones needed/wanted "math". It turns out that 12 out of 14 were there because of their math scores. If it wasn't for us being alert, all of these kids would of been screwed and no one would of known.

This was the reason that I got into education blogging.

Instructivist said...

"Well sure, tutoring is a business. It's going to depend wholly on who you hire as a totor, isn't it? It's been like this as long as I can remember on university campuses."

These so-called tutoring companies don't offer tutoring the way the word is commonly understood. Doing a lot of jumping and running is hardly tutoring. In that sense, the intent of the NCLB law is being thwarted. That was my point.

If you go to this site http://www.orionsmind.com/aboutus.htm and click on the video, you can see what passes for after-school tutoring.

rightwingprof said...

Parents would be better served first checking out private (not company) tutors as they'd check out babysitters, then making an informed decision.

Instructivist said...

"Parents would be better served first checking out private (not company) tutors as they'd check out babysitters, then making an informed decision."

The tutoring I am talking about is in conncection with taxpayer paid after-school progams as required by NCLB. Parents can of course pay for their own private tutors if they have the means. But if they want NCLB's programs they are limited to what's on the list supplied by the state. My point is that since these so-called SES programs are publicly financed, they should offer real tutoring as required by law. As things are now, hopping around and other nonsense passes for math tutoring at taxpayer expense. How can you learn how to work with fractions and decimals or to graph linear equations by hopping around, no matter how memorable the hopping?

rightwingprof said...

I see. I didn't realize there were government-certified tutors.

Unique said...

I'll never understand all this emphasis on 'fun'. Sometimes learning isn't fun - it's hard work.

I've never seen the word 'fun' as a synonym for 'effective'.

Save the fun stuff for reinforcement after the work has been mastered.

Anonymous said...

The purpose of the SES tutoring is to provide "parent choice." There are serveral tutorinng companies that come into the schools to provide services to students. The parents can choose which tutoring company is best for their child. A "fun" program is just one of the choices offered. While some parents may perfer more traditional tutoring. Other parents want their students to have fun while learning. It is up to the parents to make the best choice for their child.

I have seen many programs in action. Most of them are good - although they are all a little different. Parent appreciate the ability to choose what's right for their child.