Re: Tutoring Business Booms in Wake of NCLB
- To: "'email@example.com'" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Subject: Re: Tutoring Business Booms in Wake of NCLB
- From: "Roberts, John - Vanguard High School" <email@example.com>
- Date: Tue, 13 May 2003 10:34:07 -0400
The message here is "parents" who go the extra-mile, share in their child's
education, and stress its importance will see that their children learn. If
they focus that attention on their neighbor hood schools, we will not have
the need for all of this one-size-fits-all testing. Mike R. (They need
to take the time to vote on the way to their next tutorial)
From: Bob Schaeffer [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Tuesday, May 13, 2003 9:35 AM
To: ARN Main List
Subject: [arn-l] Tutoring Business Booms in Wake of NCLB
BIG MARKET FOR TUTORING
Christian Science Monitor-- May 13, 2003
by G. Jeffrey MacDonald
NASHUA, N.H. - Ranjana Sundaram was doing fine in kindergarten when her
mother starting bringing her to a retail space in downtown Nashua twice
a week for extra work in reading and math.
"In kindergarten they don't do much, but in first grade, there's a huge
expectation of the child," says her mother, Dr. Sudha Parasuraman. "I
know for sure she would have had a hard time coping with it if she
didn't have her basics down."
Across a narrow, bare-bones waiting room at this Kumon Math & Reading
Center, mothers of Indian, Chinese, and Anglo backgrounds sit in
metal-backed chairs, waiting as their children complete assignments
designed especially for them. Between calls on their cellular phones,
each mother offers a distinct reason for being there.
One child is falling behind in sixth-grade reading. Another is striving
to stay No. 1 in math in his second grade class. Whatever the problem or
whatever the goal, the answer for these moms seems to be individualized
education - even sometimes before their children have moved beyond nap
Business is booming at private, for-profit learning centers, especially
in urban and suburban areas, where parents regularly spend thousands per
year for a tailor-made, supplemental-learning program. Numbers tell the
• Sylvan Learning Centers has added more than 500 centers in the past 10
years, growing from 449 in 1993 to 960 this year.
• Princeton Review, known for standardized test preparation classes,
attracted fewer than 39,000 students to its company-owned sites in 2000.
By 2002, more than 81,000 had come for extra help. Over the same period,
revenues for the test-preparation division soared from $34 million to
• Kumon Math & Reading Centers helped 33,000 students in the United
States to master their basics in 1992. This year, that figure exceeds
• The number of individuals nationwide offering private tutoring for a
fee has increased from 250,000 five years ago to more than 1 million
today, according to the National Tutoring Association in Indianapolis.
Pressure from parents and increasingly competitive colleges may explain
why demand for test-score-boosting services continues to grow, even in a
sluggish economy. But both buyers and sellers in this blossoming
marketplace cite an additional, less noticed reason: Customized training
seems to achieve results in an age when parents, teachers, and students
have less and less time to do it themselves.
Consider, for instance, how services have changed at the Princeton
Review. Private tutoring, which made up just 5 percent of the business
in 1998, now accounts for 10 percent. One primary reason, according to
executive director Jed Smith of the company's 1-2-1 Private Tutoring
division in New York, was rising dissatisfaction with a classroom
approach in which the group's needs seemed to come before the individual's.
The classroom prep class was "no longer the cool, neat, elite thing,"
Mr. Smith says. Students began saying, 'I don't want to sit in a class
with 10 other kids. I want them to come to my home and work with me on a
one-to-one basis.' "
Today, Smith oversees between 150 and 200 New York tutors - up from 30
in 1998 - who are available "24-7-365." If someone wants to be tutored
in history at 6 a.m. on Tuesdays, Smith says, a tutor will be there. For
such specialized service, parents pay between $125 and $325 per hour.
But those tutors whose clients get consistent results in the form of
rising scores and better grades in challenging subjects are constantly
in demand, he says, from "overbooked" parents and students.
New York isn't the only place where families seek an extra edge in
customized training. The company now sends summer tutors to Nantucket in
Massachusetts, the Hamptons, and vacation spots along the Eastern
seaboard, as well as smaller cities such as Burlington, Vt., and
Portland, Maine. Even where families don't have extra money for
tutoring, creative alternatives are sprouting up with the same goal in
mind: education tailored to each student's needs and learning style.
Example: Free tutoring from peers in junior high and high school marks
the hottest area of the "tutoring explosion," says Thomas Redicks,
president of the National Tutoring Association. Such arrangements aren't
ideal because peer tutors are seldom trained, he says, but students
still benefit from such coaching.
"Tutors work with the intent of helping students become better
learners," Mr. Redicks says. Even when tutoring comes from fellow
students, he says, "it can provide a lot of assistance to a lot of kids."
Customizing education is hardly new. Its roots run at least as far back
as the Greek philosopher Socrates, who let each student's answers
influence the direction of the next question. Yet interest in the
endeavor has grown recently as concerns for efficiency and test results
have taken center stage in public schools.
In New Hampshire, for example, third-graders must perform well on
statewide tests in order for a school to maximize funding under current
formulas. This leads schools to introduce complex tasks as early as
first grade and to push students along before they have mastered the
basics, according to Shashank Dubey, who with his wife, Archana, owns
the Nashua Kumon franchise.
"The emphasis on basic skills in schools is not enough," Mr. Dubey
explains, as a kindergartner and a sixth-grader take quizzes
side-by-side at a table. "We're jumping to application and
problem-solving too quickly." Concerned parents pay $85 per month for
either a reading or mathematics curriculum that involves diagnostic
testing, biweekly quizzes, and daily assignments for the student to
Parents, however, aren't the only ones seeking out the services of
private learning centers to fill what they perceive to be gaps. Title I
school districts, where income levels are low, may use a portion of
their federal funding to help children get extra help when a troubled
district's test scores fail to rise over two consecutive years. As a
result, in April, public schools in Chicago and Los Angeles began
sending students to private learning centers for extra help.
Public school contracts promise a further boon for the private learning
industry. Kumon expects that factor alone to account for 10 percent
increase in business over the next three years.
"Eventually, it's making available [in inner cities] tutoring that was
formerly available only in the suburbs," says Matthew Lupsha, vice
president of education services for Kumon. "There are a lot of demands
on teachers. They don't have the time to address the needs of every
student within their care.... But, ultimately, this combination will
raise test scores and improve satisfaction with the public school systems."
"Schools are being expected to play a bigger role" in accomplishing test
results, says Wendy Odell Magus, spokeswoman for Sylvan Learning
Centers. "We have higher and higher expectations of what students should
achieve and what schools should do to prepare them." Yet because parents
bring a wider range of expectations than any school could meet, she
says, the private learning industry will continue to have a niche to fill.
Even as schools strive to meet mounting expectations, private learning
programs tout an efficiency that schools may never match. That's largely
what parents of private and parochial students pay for when they shell
out $325 per hour for Jonathan Arak's skills as a "premier tutor" in
"I get an opportunity to spot something that's a more glaring weakness
and work on it," Mr. Arak says. He sees "more anxiety, more competition,
and a more intense environment" than when he started tutoring 14 years
ago. To ease the stress without further stretching a student's busy
schedule is apparently worth the money to his 15 clients, who keep him
busy as many as 22 hours per week.
Back in Nashua, students work for 20 or 30 minutes at a time as their
mothers chat quietly nearby. As they turn in the quizzes that monitor
progress, some admire their own names posted on a board for those who
score 100. When they get a good report card, Dubey says, "It makes my
day." And what's more, it justifies for him the energy and expense
required for individualized learning.
"If I start tutoring, I put my way of learning on top of them," Dubey
says. "We help students learn their own way of learning. That's really
what it's all about."
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