NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 18, 2005

Few low-income students in failing public schools are taking advantage of a key part of the 2001 No Child Left Behind law (NCLB): free tutoring provided by private vendors. They're missing out mainly because their parents don't know about the service. And they don't know because school districts aren't telling them, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).

Under NCLB:

  • Chronically failing schools are required to set aside at least 20 percent of their Title I funding for tutoring and choice programs.
  • Educators keep any remaining funds that parents don't use to hire private tutors so they have little incentive to inform parents about the private tutoring.
  • Parents have the right to pick their own corporate tutors at no cost; a list of certified tutors can be found on their state's school board Web site.

A nationwide Harvard University study found that only 16 percent of eligible kids took advantage of the free tutoring. Overall, in most of the districts surveyed, the rates were less than five percent, and in some cases the rate was as low as less than one percent.

Across the country more than 5 million students are eligible for tutoring services, known in the law as supplemental educational services, or SES. Only about 750,000 are being tutored. If parents catch on, analysts estimate that as much as $2 billion in public-education dollars could flow into the private sector.

Source: Editorial, "A Back Door That Teachers Keep Shut," Investor's Business Daily, January 14, 2005; and Jimmy Kim and Gail L. Sunderman, "Mandates and Limited Resources: State Response to the No Child Left Behind Act and Implications for Accountability," Civil Rights Project, Harvard University, February 2004.


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