Leadership Symposium Early Bird Deadline Approaching | Join K-12 leaders nationwide for three days of empowering strategies, networking, and inspiration! Discounted pricing ends March 1. Register today.
Federal

Fewer Chicago Pupils Receive NCLB Tutoring

By Catherine Gewertz — October 25, 2005 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Six weeks after securing a federal waiver designed to maximize the number of children who can receive free tutoring under the No Child Left Behind Act, the Chicago school district has announced that 23,000 fewer students than last year will be able to get that help.

The district and private tutoring vendors are able to provide the extra academic assistance to 56,800 students this year, compared with 80,000 last year. Had the district not set up an additional tutoring program with $5 million in reallocated discretionary state money, it would have been able to offer the service to only 43,500 students.

Elizabeth F. Swanson, who oversees Chicago’s after-school programs, said the pool of tutoring students is smaller this year because far more families signed up for private providers’ programs than for the district’s less costly program. The larger proportion of families in costlier programs meant that the district’s $50 million tutoring allotment covered fewer children.

She attributed the sign-up pattern to the district’s belated entry into the tutoring market: only five days before registration began, and after months of marketing by the 53 private vendors who offer services there.

Chicago officials were quick to point out, however, that far fewer children would receive tutoring if the U.S. Department of Education had not granted a waiver on Sept. 1 allowing the district to serve as a federally financed provider. Normally, No Child Left Behind regulations bar districts deemed “in need of improvement” from doing so. Chicago had to suspend its own program last winter for that reason. (“Ed. Dept. Allows Chicago to Provide NCLB Tutoring,” Sept. 7, 2005)

Federal officials see this year’s enrollment numbers in Chicago as an increase in the federally funded tutoring program there, noting that the city had counted thousands of participants last year that it wasn’t entitled to count.

Federal law requires districts to set aside 20 percent of their Title I allocation for low-income children to pay for the tutoring and school transfers that the No Child Left Behind law requires be offered to students at underperforming schools. In Chicago’s case, that pot totaled about $56 million, of which it chose to reserve $50 million for tutoring, formally known as supplemental educational services.

About 73,000 students signed up for tutoring. Most chose private vendors, whose services cost an average of $1,600 per student, compared with Chicago’s program, which costs $380 per child on average, Ms. Swanson said. The vendors’ services cost $1,200 on average last year, but federal officials forced the city to remove what they said was an improper cap on that cost, allowing it to rise this year.

The district used test scores to choose the 43,500 students most in need of the service, Ms. Swanson said. Private providers will serve about 32,400, and Chicago’s program will serve about 11,000. Another 13,300 eligible children on the waiting list were given program slots when the district decided to use $5 million from a state block grant.

Steven Pines, the executive director of the Education Industry Association, a Potomac, Md.-based trade group for private education companies, said he was dismayed that a waiver intended to make tutoring more widely available did not seem to be having that effect.

“The community of Chicago was expecting as a result of this new flexibility that more kids would be receiving tutoring this school year than last,” he said. “That was the clear expectation.”

Holly A. Kuzmich, the Education Department’s deputy assistant secretary for policy, said this year’s numbers can’t be viewed as a decrease from last year’s, because half of last year’s 80,000 enrollment—the 40,000 students Chicago was tutoring in violation of federal regulations—never should have been counted as tutoring under the No Child Left Behind Act.

Seen that way, she said, it’s a net increase, because 40,000 children received tutoring last year under the federal law, compared with 43,500 this year. And even more will get the service because the city chose to use state money to provide it, she said.

“We give them kudos for putting in extra money and serving those kids,” Ms. Kuzmich said. “That’s exactly what we want to see.”

It’s “never the fault” of the private providers that their services cost more and could mean that districts’ allotments serve fewer students, she said. The intent of the nearly 4-year-old school accountability and improvement law, she said, is to give parents options, regardless of cost.

A version of this article appeared in the October 26, 2005 edition of Education Week as Fewer Chicago Pupils Receive NCLB Tutoring

Events

Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Low-Performing Schools Are Left to Languish by Districts and States, Watchdog Finds
Fewer than half of district plans for improving struggling schools meet bare minimum requirements.
11 min read
A group of silhouettes looks across a grid with a public school on the other side.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva
Federal Biden Admin. Says New K-12 Agenda Tackles Absenteeism, Tutoring, Extended Learning
The White House unveiled a set of K-12 priorities at the start of an election year.
4 min read
U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona participates in a roundtable discussion with students from Dartmouth College on Jan. 10, 2024, on the school's campus, in Hanover, N.H.
U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona participates in a roundtable discussion with students from Dartmouth College on Jan. 10, 2024, on the school's campus, in Hanover, N.H.
Steven Senne/AP
Federal Lawmakers Want to Reauthorize a Major Education Research Law. What Stands in the Way?
Lawmakers have tried and failed to reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act over the past nearly two decades.
7 min read
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., left, joins Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, as Starbucks founder Howard Schultz answers questions about the company's actions during an ongoing employee unionizing campaign, at the Capitol in Washington, on March 29, 2023.
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., left, joins Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, at the Capitol in Washington, on March 29, 2023. The two lawmakers sponsored a bill to reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Federal Will the Government Actually Shut Down This Time? What Educators Should Know
The federal government is once again on the verge of shutting down. Here's why educators should care, but shouldn't necessarily worry.
1 min read
Photo illustration of Capitol building and closed sign.
iStock