BOSTON, MA–December 6, 2006–Student participation in the federally mandated tutoring program for underperforming schools has expanded steadily over the past five years of implementation to the tune of $400 million in revenues for private sector providers. Nevertheless, the program is helping fewer than 25% of the more than 2.5 million students eligible to receive Supplemental Educational Services (SES).

In Educational Reinforcements: An Examination of Publicly Funded K-12 Tutoring, a recently published report from Eduventures, the leading research and consulting firm for the education industry, results indicated that although there are several challenges these programs must overcome, the most critical is ensuring that parents of eligible children even know about the availability of free tutoring for their students.

According to Eduventures’ research, when parents did learn about the availability of SES, most often–55% of the time–they learned from letters sent out by the school district. Almost half of these letters were delivered by the students themselves, raising the question of how many of these letters ever actually made it to the parent. Another 15% of parents learned about the availability of SES for the first time by word-of-mouth from other parents, rather than from the school district. These findings highlight concerns about the success rate of federal, state, and local education agencies’ and districts’ communication efforts to the SES program’s chief constituency–parents of children in underperforming schools.

The report also found that even when parents are aware of the free tutoring help, they face an ongoing struggle to understand the choices available to them, make informed decisions regarding those choices, and then get through the maze of required paperwork. Among the parents surveyed, nearly one-third cited the cumbersome paperwork or the confusing sign-up process as the most frustrating part of signing up their child for the tutoring programs. And one-fifth of the parents surveyed indicated they felt they didn’t get enough information about the available tutoring providers to make an informed decision as to which one to choose.

“In short, Supplemental Education Services–federally funded tutoring–can be viewed as reinforcements coming to the aid of embattled schools. Unfortunately, implementing the SES program is a baffling and Byzantine process,” said Eduventures’ senior analyst Tim Wiley. “At the end of the day, the fortunes of SES providers hang on the whims of parents. When it comes to publicly funded tutoring, Congress may legislate, and school districts may facilitate, but parents still have the final say in who will tutor their children and earn their share of SES per-pupil allocations.”

Among other issues covered in Educational Reinforcements are the political processes involved in purchase and delivery of supplemental educational services, school district attitudes toward in-house and outsourced tutoring programs, the growth in popularity of online tutoring programs, market threats and opportunities for the approximately 2,800 private-sector providers of tutoring programs, and forecasts for the SES market. The report is available exclusively to Eduventures’ members and consulting clients. For more information on this report or Eduventures, contact Adam Newman at 617-532-6023 or anewman@eduventures.com.

About Eduventures

For more than a decade, Eduventures has been the most trusted name in the education market for research, consulting services, and peer networking. Its clients include senior administrators and executives from leading educational institutions and companies serving the K-12, higher education, and corporate learning markets, as well as decision-makers in government agencies and the investment community. For more information, visit www.eduventures.com.

Want to share a great resource? Let us know at submissions@eschoolmedia.com.