Under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, public schools that aren’t making adequate progress are required to give students extra academic help. These schools have not met certain standards for educating students and achieving minimum scores on standardized tests.
Free private tutoring is one of the Supplemental Education Services available to students, including those with learning and attention issues, in these failing schools.
What Tutoring Programs Are For
Tutoring programs are meant to help students improve their individual test scores. Most schools where tutoring is offered serve low-income students at risk of falling behind.
The programs usually offer extra help with English and math. They may offer help in other subjects as well. If your child receives a free or reduced-price lunch and attends a school that receives Title I federal funding, she probably qualifies for free tutoring.
Students don’t have to have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 plan to qualify for tutoring paid for by the state.
How Tutoring Programs Work
If your child qualifies for free tutoring, you select a tutor from a state-approved list. The list usually has several options, including:
- Tutoring companies
- Churches, synagogues and mosques
- Community groups, such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America
- Private schools
- Local educators and former teachers
The tutor or a representative of the tutoring program meets with you and the school to set goals for your child and to report on progress. Tutoring may be hands-on, computer-based or both. The school district pays for the tutoring.
If no progress is made over a period of time, the state is required to remove the tutor or tutoring program from the approved list.
What to Watch Out For
Some critics say there is little accountability or oversight of public school tutors and tutoring programs. There have been reports of tutoring services that allegedly misused the program. It’s also been reported that some companies recruit students for tutoring but don’t deliver services—or have hired tutors with criminal records.
Many students eligible for free tutoring aren’t receiving the service. Schools are supposed to let parents know if the school is required to provide tutoring. But some don’t. If you don’t hear from the school, you can always check with your school district.
If your child is eligible for private tutoring and you know a good tutor, you might encourage him to get on the state-approved list. No matter who tutors your child—whether it’s a tutor paid for by the school or by you—it’s a good idea to ask questions and monitor how much help he actually provides.