Last year, Chicago Public Schools spent $50 million in federal funds to provide “supplemental education services” (re: tutoring) for 56,000 children.

So, all that money must have had a big effect on student learning, right? Well… not so much.

Tutored elementary students showed only slightly more gains in reading on state tests in 2006 than comparable kids who were eligible for tutoring but didn’t get the extra help. Researchers called that a small but “significant” uptick. There was a “negligible” gain in math, according to an analysis by the Chicago Public Schools released to the Sun-Times.

“It’s a minimal impact, at best,” said Erica Harris, who oversees tutoring for CPS. “On the micro level, I believe there are kids who need it and it’s doing great things. But at the macro level, for the amount of investment, I would want to see more output.”

In other words, for most kids, spending all that money on tutoring services was just about as effective as doing nothing at all.

The schools blame the tutoring companies (or the kids for being so far behind in the first place). The companies blame the schools.

But maybe we should step back and ask whether after-school tutoring by private companies is the best way to help these kids.

For some, the answer may be yes. Other students are in need of different kinds of support.

However, No Child Left Behind doesn’t allow the school district to develop any other options. The law mandates tutoring for all.

Just one of more example of how the one-size-fits-all requirements at the foundation of NCLB are not working.

nclb, tutoring, chicago