Paid to learn: Changes coming to the system - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Paid to learn: Changes coming to the system

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TOLEDO, Ohio -

Changes could be on the way to a program the I-team has been investigating this week.  It's a state run tutoring program where kids are paid to finish the program, but parents have some questions about how they're run.

It's called the Supplemental Educational Services program and it is money coming from the federal government to school district eventually to private tutors and it is big money.  Money to the tune of $1688 per TPS student for this current school year, but that whole equation may change. 

As part of the No Child Left Behind Act, Ohio is required to use 20% of its Title One money, which this school year turns into $19 million for TPS on these supplemental educational services.  Title One money comes from the federal government.  Ohio has now been approved for a waiver to get out of the program. 

"We can do a little background checking on our own.  And say this has been a good provider over the years through experience.  And we can select those for the parents.  Give them not as many options but good quality providers," said Betsey Murry, the TPS director of compensatory programs.

Toledo Public is not the only district in the area that gets these funds.  Other districts get some of the money as well.  Here's a look at some of the averages. 

Sandusky: $1390

Washington Local: $1284

Fostoria: $1283

Springfield Local: $1256

District getting this money are based on free and reduced school lunches, and if the school is meeting is adequate yearly progress.  At Washington Local Schools, there are some reservations about the program 

"I think a lot of the research is showing that it's got moderate to minimal effectiveness.  What we've seen in our district is we've seen, with certain vendors, kids making gains, with other vendors not so much," said Brian Davis, the director of curriculum and instruction for Washington Local School.

It's not just large city districts involved.  Genoa, for example, receives about $1000 per student.  That program started in March.  26 kids received tutoring services. 

"I think it was very effective.  From the parent input I received they were very pleased with the students' progress.  Of course online is different than day to day interactions, but I think they were both effective and they both met the needs of the students," said Brenda Murphy, Genoa Elementary Principal. 

But policing the program is easier in Genoa than in Toledo Public.   When Genoa schools advertised for private companies, only 2 showed up to talk with parents.  1 of them was an online program.  TPS works with 41. 

"I got a complete readout of the students, the programs, how many hours they put in either the areas of math or reading whatever they were identified in," said Murphy. 

Changes and possibly the elimination could be coming to the program now that the waiver has been approved.  Here's a local suggestion. 

"One of the things, as a district, we would like to see is to have more say into what the tutoring looks like.  What does the bench marking process look like?  How are we assessing growth?" said Davis. 

In an email statement here is what the Ohio Department of Education has to say about the waiver: 

  • First off, while this is an elimination of the Supplemental Education Services (tutoring) program. It does not mean that these services will not still be provided to those students entitled to them. This change will provide needed flexibility to local districts to be able to create a program that they can manage to best fit the needs of their students. 
  • Depending on the approach a district takes they may use extended learning time and provide these tutoring services within the district , continue to work with those providers that have demonstrated a pattern of success for the district.  It is really up to the district how they choose to structure it.
  • The state will still have monitoring oversight as we do with any federal program that involves funding.  The management aspect of it will enable the local district to tailor a program that best suits the needs of students, parents and teachers.
  • This flexibility opens up additional opportunities for an eligible district, this relationship can foster greater communication between student, parent, teacher and provider.
  • On the management issue at the district, all districts through their local board have policies and procurement when it pertains to contracts, they manage contractual relationships for a variety of issues within a district just as they would this situation.

Resources for parents to pick tutor

 

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