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No Corporation Left Behind

While the No Child Left Behind legislation is getting mixed reviews from teachers, parents and administrators (not to mention lots of confusion), the education industry loves it. Companies that write and sell tests, market reading and math programs, and provide after school tutoring services say that business is "booming" as they stumble all over themselves to create new products to "help" schools with low test scores or who don’t meet their AYP (annual yearly progress) goals.

There’s a burgeoning "sense of consumerism in public education" as parents learn about the law and begin demanding services, says Jeffrey Cohen, president of Sylvan Education Solutions, a unit of closely held Educate Inc. His company says it expects to tutor 20,000 youngsters in struggling schools this year, with No Child Left Behind requiring the schools to pick up the $40- to $80-an-hour tab.

Test publishers are the most obvious winners, because the law requires states to track student progress by giving yearly reading and math tests in grades three through eight. Educational Testing Service, the nonprofit company that writes the SAT college-admissions tests, introduced a new elementary- and secondary-education division as the law worked its way through Congress. It expects revenue of $75 million this year from tests it is writing for California, New Jersey and Puerto Rico.

Likewise, Harcourt Educational Measurement, a unit of publisher Harcourt Inc., says it has rewritten its key standardized test, renamed the Stanford 10, to tap the No Child Left Behind market. The new test is aligned with state curricula — that is, questions come from what’s taught in most classrooms rather than from general knowledge — and states can add their own questions. Ten states have already bought the new test, whose costs vary by grade but are about $7 for a third grader. Harcourt Educational doesn’t release revenue, but spokesman Mark Slitt says the unit expects to double its revenue in five years. "There’s a lot of state business out there in the pipeline," he adds.

Your tax dollars at work to educate kids.

However, we can’t leave out another part of NCLB which requires every student to have a "highly qualified" teacher. The education industry is standing by to help there as well.

The law also puts new pressure on the schools to boost teacher quality and to look beyond traditional education schools for teachers, which could prove a boon for online colleges. Kaplan, which already has an online university, plans to open the Kaplan College School of Education beginning next year for people who already have a bachelor’s degree but need either subject-matter courses or teaching-technique courses to get a teaching job.

Companies that offer midcareer professional development programs also stand to benefit as schools prepare to meet a spring 2006 No Child Left Behind deadline for proving that all of their teachers are "highly qualified" because they have either taken a refresher course or passed a test in the subject they teach. The test-prep companies and online universities are also developing programs to help teachers deal with all the data they have now. Kaplan offers a $3,000 half-day course to help teachers understand testing, and ETS has an $18,000 course that trains districts to judge how good their teachers are.

I guess being a good teacher is not as hard as I thought. It just takes money.

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1 Comment

  1. In the Catholic school where I teach, students who fall behind in their work often use Sylvan for tutoring services. The school’s got a demanding curriculum and doesn’t have the resources to hire part-time personnel to provide the tutoring itself. You’d think that if a public school was going to have to pony up the funds for pricey Sylvan tutoring anyhow, they’d take the more efficient path and hire similar tutors themselves…

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