The Every Student Succeeds Act
The House of Representatives voted Wednesday night, with a massive bipartisan majority of 359 to 64, in favor of a new education bill that has finally been made available in its entirety.
The bill, the Every Student Succeeds Act, would keep the most familiar feature of No Child Left Behind: annual tests in reading and math for students in third through eighth grades. But it drops the 2002 law’s other big idea: that the federal government, which spends $14 billion each year on poor schools, should directly hold those schools accountable for the quality of their education.
But what does this mean for SES tutoring and SES tutoring providers?
Well I’ve read most of the articles and analyses that have been published since the vote and none of them to date have discussed this issue or even mentioned it; so my only option was to read the Title I section of the bill and try to make sense of the legalese.
The use of the word ‘may’ indicates that mandated tutoring for students in Title I schools has been removed from the bill. On the upside provision for tutoring in any form was not struck from the bill meaning that LEA’s and schools may opt to use tutoring as a Direct Student Service.
Only 1% of the received funds are allowed to be spent on communicating with parents and 2% allowed for administration of the service, so applying logic which is in itself a folly in politics, 97% goes to Direct Student Service.
If memory serves, under NCLB a student had to be enrolled at a Title I school to receive SES tutoring even if a student, enrolled elsewhere, was not making adequate progress they would not receive intervention. It would appear now that this is not the case and more students may become eligible.
Should the LEA wish, they may use approved providers for high-quality academic tutoring.
But this is where the arguments start because the LEA’s don’t have to provide tutoring but if they choose to do so, they don’t have to use an outside provider. But they can!
So as I’m not a lawyer and as I don’t work for the Department of Education but I am a highly opinionated bystander, what do I think?
First we need to look at the states that have waivers and universally (Colorado) and sporadically (Florida et al) choose to continue to use outside approved providers to administer some tutoring services to students. As they have deemed it worthwhile to voluntarily continue with tutoring I would predict that this bill will not affect those decisions and we should see continued opportunities.
Secondly we need to think about the LEA’s that wish to provide tutoring services but want to keep the service in-house. It’s a nice idea to keep the money yourself, whoops sorry, administer your own program, but let’s look at what we know from this bill.
Only 2% may be spent on administering the program and 1% communicating with parents. Now I don’t know the actual figures and what those sums of money might be but it is loud and clear that the money needs to be spent on the services not the administration of same. This does not give the LEA’s much to play with. A cynical person would be forgiven for suggesting the administratively top heavy LEA’s would struggle to keep within the lines.
Outsourcing means that the providers need to do the administration, the providers need to do the reporting, the providers can communicate directly with parents and the providers need to prove efficacy. Most importantly the money spent with providers (from the 97%) can usually be spent by the providers as they see fit. The LEA’s can then spend their 2% on monitoring the providers and the flow of information and invoices; a much more achievable goal some might say!
Lastly we need to think about the LEA’s that are still providing tutoring as they don’t have a waiver, and will be set free by this bill if signed to law (which it probably will). They are totally fed up with NCLB, fed up with federal interference and fed up with being told how to spend ‘their’ money and are convinced they could do a better job if left alone.
This is the downside, these LEA’s in my opinion will not on the whole opt for tutoring. They may drift back to it when they finally realize, the hard way, the potential truths to the points above, but I think the majority of California will drop tutoring. But hey it’s California anything could happen!
But that’s not to say that opportunities don’t exist. You will however have to stop using the words SES tutoring and adopt the new verbiage of Direct Student Services and actively hunt down the contracts.
When bantering with one of my favorite customers yesterday about this very topic he pointed out that the rest of the bill included opportunities under other Titles for English Language Learners, Migrant Students and Juvenile Detention. I have not read the full bill, I confess to being brain shatteringly exhausted by the Title I section, but he stated he was optimistic about tutoring services but was going to continue to diversify into other programs.
The last piece of news is that the bill quite clearly states on page 10 line 1 that nothing applies until the 17-18 School Year. In the absence of a waiver this could mean one more year of SES tutoring and as such some breathing room to continue any diversification plans you have or are putting in place. What is for certain is that those diversification plans should not be shelved.
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