Tutor Program Going Unused

Susan Saulny:

The No Child Left Behind law requires consistently failing schools that serve mostly poor children to offer their students a choice if they want it: a new school or tutoring from private companies or other groups, paid for with federal money — typically more than $1,800 a child in big cities. In the past the schools would have been under no obligation to use that Title I federal poverty grant to pay for outside tutoring.
City and state education officials and tutoring company executives disagree on the reasons for the low participation and cast blame on each other. But they agree that the numbers show that states and school districts have not smoothed out the difficulties that have plagued the tutoring — known as the supplemental educational services program — from its start as a novel experiment in educational entrepreneurship: largely private tutoring paid for with federal money.
Officials give multiple reasons for the problems: that the program is allotted too little federal money, is poorly advertised to parents, has too much complicated paperwork for signing up, and that it has not fully penetrated the most difficult neighborhoods, where there are high concentrations of poor, failing students.