Free tutoring being phased out due to low participation

As Georgia moves away from many policies under the No Child Left Behind legislation, the transition is proving to be a give and take of services offered to students.

One change beginning next year is the end of Supplemental Education Services, or free tutoring for students at impoverished and underperforming schools.

In its waiver from NCLB, the state asked to use the money from SES for other purposes because of low participation in the program.

In 2011-12, 42 percent of eligible students in Richmond County took advantage of the tutoring, up from 25 percent the year before.

Last year, 16 schools qualified for the free tutoring because they did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress for two years or had a high number of low-income students.

The district contracted with dozens of companies that provided tutoring services, and parents of qualified children could select which programs they’d like to use. Some providers held sessions at the student’s school while others tutored off campus, so in some cases parents had to provide transportation.

While it was underused, SES gave an option for free tutoring to about 9,000 students, and the system replacing SES might not provide the same services to as many students.

“They won’t have the same money they had last year,” said Audrey Spry, the district’s interim Title I director.

SES is being replaced by the Flexible Learning Program, which requires only the underperforming Priority and Focus schools – labels under the new College and Career Readiness Performance Index – to plan for extended learning time, whether it is after-school tutoring, Saturday school or something else.

While 16 schools qualified for SES, there are nine Priority and Focus schools.

The schools that received money for free tutoring last year will no longer receive the same funding. Principals at those Title I, or impoverished, schools have to factor tutoring into their budgets as they see fit.

That may or may not include the same tutoring opportunities SES offered before.

Spry said those schools will have to see how principals will use Title I money and if tutoring factors in. The good news, she said, is that the community and parents have a say in how principals budget Title I money.

Barbara Williams, a grandmother of two pupils at Diamond Lakes Elementary School, said she hopes a new program will replace the tutoring her granddaughters received last year.

“A lot of parents think tutoring is just for struggling students, but if your child is an A student, you want them to stay an A student,” Williams said. “I want to see this tutoring continue.”

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Mon, 04/24/2017 - 17:56

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