Waivers Spell Likely End for Tutoring Program

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dozens of states intend to apply for waivers that would free their schools from a federal requirement that they set aside hundreds of millions of dollars a year for after-school tutoring, a program many researchers say has been ineffective.

The 2002 No Child Left Behind law requires school districts that repeatedly fail to meet its benchmarks to set aside federal money to pay for outside tutors. But studies released in the past five years have found mixed results, at best, from the program.

They say it has suffered from participation rates as low as 20 percent, uneven quality among tutors, a lack of coordination between tutors and teachers, poor oversight by the states and a prohibition against giving the lowest achieving students priority. Also, they say, there has been no connection between students' success and tutors' paychecks.

"We are spending millions of dollars a year, and we are not seeing any measurable results for students," said Matthew Mohs, who oversees the St. Paul Public Schools' tutoring program, which set aside about $4.5 million for tutoring this school year.

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