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Tutoring Myths & Realities

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Wednesday's House hearing on SES won't be the big hearing of the week, but it will likely be pretty interesting given Senator Clinton's recent comments about the ineffectiveness of the program and its controversial use of private tutoring companies.

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Amidst all the posturing and finger-pointing, however, some of the things that may get lost include the many similarities (same companies, same materials and pedagogy, etc.) between SES tutoring and its noncontroversial private pay counterparts, the near-impossibility of determining SES impacts on annual state test scores from 30-50 hours of tutoring per year, and the reality that smaller, regional providers often win out over large national companies (Sylvan sold its SES division after failing to have much success with the SES market).

Tutoring generally works. SES tutoring isn't that different from regular tutoring. Expecting big effects from small amounts of tutoring doesn't make sense. "Big education" isn't dominating the SES field. More on this later.

4 Comments

We discovered through experience that many local tutoring companies that participate in the SES tutoring.

My fiance's daughter received it last year. Originally we signed her up for math tutoring, but they pulled a bait and switch on her and stuck her in a reading tutoring program.

We complained all the way up to the district superintendent and managed to correct the situation. When they a survey of the parents in the class, 12 out of 13 students were there because it was meant to be math tutoring.

We discovered it was a lot easier to find qualified reading tutors than math tutors, thus the reason for the bait and switch.

Eventually the company found us the right tutor, but only after a lot of resistance.

In the end the program did a little good, but not as much as we were able to do at home by reteaching basic multiplication facts.

We discovered through experience that many local tutoring companies that participate in the SES tutoring.

My fiance's daughter received it last year. Originally we signed her up for math tutoring, but they pulled a bait and switch on her and stuck her in a reading tutoring program.

We complained all the way up to the district superintendent and managed to correct the situation. When they a survey of the parents in the class, 12 out of 13 students were there because it was meant to be math tutoring.

We discovered it was a lot easier to find qualified reading tutors than math tutors, thus the reason for the bait and switch.

Eventually the company found us the right tutor, but only after a lot of resistance.

In the end the program did a little good, but not as much as we were able to do at home by reteaching basic multiplication facts.

The other thing we noted, was that most of the kids in the program were children of people who qualified for free/reduced lunch by technicalities, such as military families. The kids who really needed it, usually had parents who didn't take the time or the opportunity to take advantage of it.

As an ed. consultant, I've worked with several SES/tutoring programs which serve underpriveledged students from urban minority families. The programs which were successful, in regards to the improved academic achievement of the students, were those which had a strong component of outreach to parents (educational support for parents, encouragement toward parental involvement, and general support for overwhelmed parents). Those programs which were ineffective toward students' benefit, were those which posed as SES tutoring programs, but merely provided students with homework help, thus taking away the parental responsibility to get involved and help their children with their schoolwork.
I believe that SES programs and tutoring programs are purely beneficial to those students genuinely in need, or with parents who genuinely do not have the time nor capability to help their children. Otherwise, where is the push for more parental involvement and accountabilty for students' achievement? Many tutors are essentially just picking up the slack for lazy parents.

As an ed. consultant, I've worked with several SES/tutoring programs which serve underpriveledged students from urban minority families. The programs which were successful, in regards to the improved academic achievement of the students, were those which had a strong component of outreach to parents (educational support for parents, encouragement toward parental involvement, and general support for overwhelmed parents). Those programs which were ineffective toward students' benefit, were those which posed as SES tutoring programs, but merely provided students with homework help, thus taking away the parental responsibility to get involved and help their children with their schoolwork.
I believe that SES programs and tutoring programs are purely beneficial to those students genuinely in need, or with parents who genuinely do not have the time nor capability to help their children. Otherwise, where is the push for more parental involvement and accountabilty for students' achievement? Many tutors are essentially just picking up the slack for lazy parents.

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