Part of the ongoing strangeness of the No Child Left Behind law is the requirement that schools failing to make their annual yearly progress (AYP) two years in a row must allow students to transfer to another school. If they fail to make AYP three years in a row, the school must fund private tutoring for students.

A school district just up the road from here has now been given permission to flip these provisions. They will begin paying for after-school and weekend tutorials after two years of missing AYP.

While this makes far more sense than the previous order, I still don’t get either provision. But especially the idea of paying for remediation outside of the school day. Why not rearrange what teachers and students are doing during the day to catch kids that aren’t learning and take care of their needs immediately?

It really doesn’t make much sense to maintain the traditional educational structure and then patch up the problems by going outside that structure. Change the structure! Don’t add another layer on the outside. Don’t hire tutors on the weekends when the same money could be helping kids in school during the week.

This is especially baffling since even the feds admit that few students – less than 10% of those eligible nationwide – even come to these private tutoring sessions when offered. On top of which, there is very little evidence that this kind of remediation has any long term success.

Although the feds, of course, disagree with the research.

"We’re finding across the country that schools are telling us that these tutoring programs and afternoon sessions are making a big difference," Luce [an assistant secretary with the Department of Education] said in a conference call with reporters.

Doesn’t NCLB have a provision that all instructional changes must be based on valid research? How can an expensive program like this (paid for by local schools not the law requiring it) make a "big difference" when only a small number of students are involved? And they have little research showing supplemental tutoring is effective.

Effective or not, the bottom line is that paying for outside tutoring programs and shuffling kids around between schools, no matter the order in which it’s done, is lousy remediation for what’s wrong with our educational system.

This is another example of how NCLB is a simplistic, one-size-fits-all bandage applied to problems in need of much larger – and more logical – solutions.