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Study Sees Little Traction for NCLB's Tutoring Provisions

A study by the Government Accountability Office made waves a few years ago when it estimated that only about a fifth of students were getting the free tutoring services they were entitled to receive under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. As most of you know by now, the 8-year-old law requires Title I schools that fail to hit their achievement targets under the law for three or more years in a row to offer free tutoring, or supplemental education services, to their students. The GAO report looked at data for the 2004-05 school year and found that only 20 percent of eligible students took advantage of the free tutoring that year. That was an improvement from the previous school year, but it still wasn't good enough.

Now fast-forward two more school years, and what you find is that not much has changed—at least not if you believe the estimates cited in a new report released last week by the National Center for Education Statistics. The report draws on data for the 2006-07 school year from a nationally representative sample of households. It finds that only 22 percent of students in persistently failing, Title I schools received free tutoring services from that year, according to their parents. That compares with 13 percent of students in a comparison group of public schools. (Under the law, states can require all chronically failing schools to offer tutoring, which is why some of the non-Title I schools in this sample provided tutoring, too.)

That's not to say that schools didn't get the word out, though. The study says that 60 percent of the parents of children in the persistently failing schools said they had heard of the offer. The families of another 12 percent of students attending the schools targeted by the law actually paid to have their children tutored.

Why has this provision of NCLB been so slow to take hold? You tell me.

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