Category Archives: United States

New Book on Supplementary Education Around the World

Janice Aurini, Scott Davies & Julian Dierkes (eds.)

Out of the Shadows: The Global Intensification of Supplementary Education

(International Perspectives on Education and Society, Vol. 22)

Emerald Publishing, Bingley UK: 2013.

Vertical Banner: Out of the Shadows - The Global Intensification of Supplementary EducationTable of Contents

“Out of the shadows? An introduction to worldwide supplementary education”
Janice Aurini, Scott Davies, Julian Dierkes (pp. xv – xxiv)

Part 1: Countries With High Intensity Forms of Supplementary Education

“The Insecurity Industry: Supplementary Education in Japan”
Julian Dierkes (pp. 3 – 21)

“Supplementary Education in Turkey: Recent Developments and Future Prospects”
Aysit Tansel (pp. 23 – 66)

“Researching Supplementary Education: Plans, Realities, and Lessons from Fieldwork in China”
Wei Zhang, Mark Bray (pp. 67 – 94)

“Private Tutoring in Vietnam: A Review of Current Issues and its Major Correlates”
Hai-Anh Dang (pp. 95 – 127)

“Supplementary Education in Brazil: Diversity and Paradoxes”
Alexandre Ventura, Candido Gomes (pp. 129 – 151)

Part 2: Countries With Low Intensity Forms of Supplementary Education

“Supplementary Education in a Changing Organizational Field: The Canadian Case”
Janice Aurini, Scott Davies (pp. 155 – 170)

“But did it Help you get to University? A Qualitative Study of Supplementary Education in Western Australia”
Martin Forsey (pp. 171 – 189)

“Supplementary Education in the United States: Policy Context, Characteristics, and Challenges”
Izumi Mori (pp. 191 – 207)

“Supplementary Education in Germany: History and Present Developments”
Thomas Koinzer (pp. 209 – 220)

Part 3: Comparing High and Low Intensity Forms of Supplementary Education

“Making Markets: Policy Construction of Supplementary Education in the United States and Korea”
Christopher Lubienski, Jin Lee (pp. 223 – 244)

“Family Capital: a Determinant of Supplementary Education in 17 Nations”
Darby E. Southgate (pp. 245 – 258)

AERA 2012: Impacts of Supplemental Tutoring Configurations for Preschoolers at Risk for Reading Difficulties

American Educational Research Association

Apr 17, 12:25-13:55h

Carol Vukelich, Myae Han, Matha Buell (all Univ of Delaware), and Laura Justice (Ohio State Univ)

“Impacts of Supplemental Tutoring Configurations for Preschoolers at Risk for Reading Difficulties”

Background: Providing preschoolers at-risk for reading difficulties with additional support is of increasing interest in early childhood education.  However, the research on programming in preschool for this additional support is limited and yields inconclusive findings.   Objective. The current studies explore different grouping configurations in a supplemental tutoring program for at-risk preschoolers in order to provide early childhood educators with guidance on grouping strategies for use in their supplemental instruction.

Methods. Two grouping configurations are examined via two studies. In Study 1, forty-five at-risk preschoolers (18 boys, 27 girls) were selected and randomly assigned to a one-on-one tutoring or paired tutoring condition.  In Study 2, fifty-four at-risk children (31 boys, 23 girls) were selected and randomly assigned to one of two pairing conditions: with a highly-skilled peer or with a similarly low-skilled peer.  In each study, children received tutoring that supplemented the classroom instruction twice a week over the academic year.

Results: In Study 1, children in both conditions made similar gains on the alphabet knowledge and phonological awareness measures and the one-on-one group outperformed the paired group on receptive vocabulary but the effect size was small. In Study 2, the children in the matched-pairing condition evidenced a trend toward greater gains than those paired with high-skilled peer on the phonological awareness measure but not on alphabet knowledge and receptive vocabulary measures.  Conclusion. The results of studies hold promise for achieving optimal outcomes by providing supplemental instruction to the maximum number of preschoolers using a dyad model instead of the typical one-on-one model.

AERA 2012: Evaluation of Supplemental Educational Services in a Midwestern Urban School District

American Educational Research Association

Apr 14, 12:25-13:55h

Katherine Drake and Cheryl Carlstrom, Saint Paul Public Schools

“Evaluation of Supplemental Educational Services in a Midwestern Urban School District”

Supplemental Educational Services (SES) is defined as tutoring and other supplemental academic enrichment provided outside of the school day that is specifically designed to help students achieve proficiency on state academic standards as measured by the state’s assessment system. In compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, any Title I school or district identified as not making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for three or more consecutive years must offer SES to all low-income students attending the school. While the U.S. Department of Education requires that SES providers demonstrate effectiveness in improving student achievement, states and districts have limited capacity to monitor providers and to evaluate their performance.

To date, research on SES has not consistently shown a demonstrable impact on student achievement (Authors, 2007a; Authors, 2007b; Authors, 2010). The research, evaluation, and assessment office of a Midwestern urban school district conducted an evaluation in order to measure the effectiveness of SES providers at improving the academic achievement of students who received service in that district during the 2009-10 school year. The study was designed to answer three questions: 1. Who participated in SES? 2. What was the impact of SES on student achievement? 3. How did SES providers compare in terms of student achievement outcomes?

Data from a supplemental service database that included provider, session type, and attendance information for 1,692 registered students were linked to student demographic data as well as to fall 2009 and spring 2010 Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) reading and math data and to spring 2009 and spring 2010 data from the statewide tests in reading and math data. After reviewing participant demographics overall, by school, and by provider, we compared the achievement test scores of SES students to SES-eligible students (i.e., all students who received free or reduced price lunch and enrolled in an SES school) who did not register for SES.

The participant file was split by subject area in which each student received service (math or reading), with some students receiving assistance in both subject areas. Propensity Score Matching was used to identify comparison groups (by subject area) from the pool of all 2009-2010 non-participating SES-eligible students. Analysis of MAP and statewide test data supports existing research findings of little to no difference in test performance of students who receive SES compared to those who do not. Where statistically significant differences were found, matched students who did not receive SES outperformed those who did. When hours of service were considered, students who received 20 or more hours of SES met achievement test targets at the same rate as those who participated in fewer than 20 hours. While the percent of students achieving proficiency on the statewide assessment, in both math and reading, did vary by provider, no single provider showed success across all measures and subject areas.

In conclusion, this evaluation confirms the lack of support for SES found by researches in other urban school districts.

AERA 2012: Parents’ Perspectives on Privatizing Trends in Education

American Educational Research Association

Apr 15, 14:15-15:45h

Patricia Burch and Rudolfo Acosta (Univ of Southern California)

“Where Do I Go? Parents’ Perspectives on Privatizing Trends in Education”

Introduction and Rationale: There are dramatic changes underway in the Federal role in increasing access and opportunity for students living in poverty. On the one hand, the federal government has become increasingly proactive in directing instruction at the Federal, state and local levels. For example, the No Child Left Behind Act (the 2001 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act) tied federal funding for economically disadvantaged communities to test score performance and introduced progressive sanctions for schools. Standing partially in tension with this centralization, private engagement in the governance and administration of public education is expanding and evolving.

Central Arguments: In this paper, the authors make six central arguments about the ways in which the role and influence of for profit firms in k-12 public education is changing.

  1. Large corporations—and the laws that protect them—increasingly drive how and what the public learns about education.
  2. With government programs being slashed, companies are turning to new money sources in order to expand.
  3. Education companies are using relationships with school districts to get teachers, students and parents hooked on their products.
  4. For profits are pushing legal boundaries by using not for profits as marketing arms.
  5. When it comes to private sector involvement in public education, there is no accountability
  6. The changes described follow a general pattern. However, whether and how government agencies and private industry trade places varies depending on the setting and what is being sold.

Methods: This research is part of an ongoing multisite mixed methods study on the implementation and impact of supplementary education services. Data were collected from five urban school districts representing a variety of student demographics in: Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Chicago, Illinois; and Austin and Dallas, Texas. This paper draws on findings from the qualitative portion of the study specifically aimed at analyzing which factors influence parent or student choices in selecting supplemental education providers. Data collected consists of focus groups with parents (n=174) of students eligible to receive and/or currently receiving supplementary services. Two focus groups, approximately 1.5 hours each took place at each of the sites with translation offered in Spanish, Hmong, and Somali. The racial and ethnic demographics of parents consisted of the following: White, Latino, African American, African, Asian, Biracial, Native American, Multiracial, or other. Parents in the sample had children eligible for services in elementary, middle, or high school. To delineate the social construction of parents as the targets of policy, a textual analysis of the federal NCLB policy concerning the implementation of supplementary services was used.

Contributions: The paper provides voice for perspective of those at the receiving line of privatization, in particular students with disabilities and English language learners. Based on these voices, we identify the core issues that policymakers must wrestle with if current forms of privatization are to strengthen ties between parents and schools. We also show how Federal education policy has helped to legitimize these changes.

AERA 2012: Preliminary Findings of a Multisite Study of the Implementation and Effects of Supplemental Educational Services

American Educational Research Association

Apr 16, 14:15-15:45h

Patricia Burch (Univ of Southern California) and Carolyn Heinrich (Univ of Texas – Austin)

“Preliminary Findings of a Multisite Study of the Implementation and Effects of Supplemental Educational Services”

Under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), schools that have not made adequate yearly progress in increasing student academic achievement for two years or more are required to offer parents of children in low-income families the opportunity to receive extra academic assistance, or supplemental educational services (SES). This paper works with ideas from the field of policy sociology to develop an understanding of SES as shaped by a complex interplay of forces; this field is particularly useful in analyzing a complex policy such as SES because it seeks to understand the intersection of macro and micro systems. This multilayered policy requires these various systems and actors to interact in new ways and in relatively uncharted policy territory. Research Setting and Design Findings are based on data from an ongoing multi-site study of the implementation and impact of supplemental educational services. The central purpose of this study is to understand whether and how providing students with academically focused out-of-school tutoring in reading and mathematics contributes to improvements in their academic performance, specifically in reading and mathematics. It involves three linked phases of research. Phase 1 is an in-depth qualitative study designed to define key elements of SES program models and the policy and practice variables that mediate implementation of these models and to also inform the construction of the measures of SES treatment for quantitative analysis. Phase 2 is a quantitative study investigating selection into SES (i.e., who registers and participates) and SES program impacts, using propensity score matching and fixed-effect methods with nonequivalent (internal) comparison groups. Phase 3 is a follow-up qualitative study to examine whether program features identified in Phase 1 continue over time and to further inform our interpretation of the quantitative findings of program impact from Phase 2. We are conducting this research in five urban school districts located in four states and representing different student demographics. Findings Our analysis reveals three primary themes. First, in order to understand and address the policy problems in SES, we need to see the policy as driven by a particular theory of action – the idea that public policy needs to be modeled around and accommodate the market place. Second, while NCLB employs the common rhetoric to equalize educational opportunities for the poor, the design of SES contributes to power asymmetries that sometimes privilege the financial interests of individual private firms and frustrate collective access to information. Thus, expanding the ability of SES to serve the goal of equal opportunity requires addressing the ways in which design and discourse of the policy denies equal access to knowledge for eligible participants and stakeholders. The other key to improving SES lies in the quality of instruction inside the SES classroom and the relationships between teachers, parents, students and tutors. In short, any effort to improve SES must address the perverse or inadequate incentives written into the design of current policy while solutions for improving policy should be anchored in deep understanding of actual classroom/tutoring conditions and the quality of relationships built there.

AERA 2012: Black Women’s Community Othermothering and Supplementary Education

American Educational Research Association

April 15, 8:15-9:45h

Amira Millicent Davis

“‘Educate a Woman and You Educate a Nation’: Black Women’s Community Othermothering and Supplementary Education”

This paper is of a yearlong qualitative ethnographic study of women of African descent in the U.S. and UK who provide supplementary education programs in their communities. Data was collected through interviews, primary and secondary sources and social media. The cultural work of these women is interpreted through the lens of maternal activism articulated in Hill-Collins community and othermothering in which Black women’s epistemologies are privileged. The women presented have created sustainable community education spaces that simultaneously enhance academic performance, wage resistance, perpetuate traditions and rituals and preserve cultural knowledge. The goal of this work is to share their experiences as models for community-based literacy programs, educational advocacy and individual and community empowerment with activists, practitioners, scholars, funders and policymakers.

Further Life of Economist Article

Some of the arguments in the article “Japan’s cramming schools – A controversial institution has some surprising merits” in The Economist are being picked up elsewhere.

Liz Dwyer, education editor for GOOD, in her post asks, “Could ‘Cram Schools’ Be on Their Way to America?” and refers directly back to the article in The Economist.

I posted a reply:

Yes, juku-style “cram schools” are appearing in the U.S. Never mind SAT prep outfits like Kaplan, etc., but NCLB provides funding for tutoring services for students in schools that consistently underperform. It’s too early to tell whether these tutoring services will emerge as large juku corporations (local and state-specific registration seems to prevent this).

Note that supplementary education is not just booming in places where it is long-established (like Japan, but also Brazil, Egypt, Greece, Turkey for non-Asian examples), but in settings like France and Germany where it may be less associated with “cramming”. For now, this boom is focused on remedial tutoring, rather than accelerated instruction.

Note also that reliance on supplementary education is migrating with families.

[Note that I’ve added small parts of my reply that I had to cut to comply with the <1,000 chars req on their website]

I would add that I’ve previously posted about the curious fascination with juku-like institutions in Manhattan and elsewhere in the U.S.

Another place that the article is being commented on is by Roger Soder (apparently) on the “Education and Community” blog. This post takes the original article to task for its – supposedly – too rosy outlook on aspects of juku. While I would generally share the view that The Economist takes too positive a view of for-profit initiatives and the market (no surprise at this assessment and my agreement, I presume), in this case, I believe that this rosiness is due to the brevity of the article not necessarily an editorial stance.

I do always like to stress that juku should not be rejected as mere “cram schools”, but that there are many aspects of teaching in juku that are very attractive (some of the charismatic educators that run some of the smaller juku, for example), while other aspects are much less attractive.

Curious Opposition to Tutoring among Exam Setters

I mentioned a NYT article about widespread tutoring in Manhattan previously.

Very early on the article notes that “Riverdale discourages […] tutoring” referring to Riverdale Country School, apparently a fancy private school in NYC.  This school requires the SSAT or ISEE test for admission, both SAT-like tests for younger children (for entry to middle and high school).

This appears to be a common pattern among institutions who administer admission tests, i.e. they like to discourage tutoring for these tests. Whether it is based on an argument (this seems to be quite transparently false) that these are “aptitude” tests and thus can’t be prepped for, or on an equally spurious argument that prepping is undesirable and not conducive to the development of students.

Even in a hypereducation system like Japan, officials at schools that require entrance examinations often stick to the line that their test can be mastered (i.e. passed with a very high score) without any particular coaching. This would have to mean that a high score can be achieved on the basis of school attendance only. Or so, some of the exam setters claim. Most parents seem to disagree.

Why I understand that no exam setters wants exam takers to be able to “game” the exam, I am less certain where this allergy against test preparation among exam setters comes from. I suspect, however, that it is an element of embarrassment as the perceived need for tutoring exposes the fact that such tests do offer greater chances at higher scores to exam takers who devote resources (time and money) to exam preparation; resources that are obviously limited and distributed unevenly among the potential test-taking population.

Another Article on Hypereducation in Exotic Manhattan

As a Japan researcher, I am perfectly accustomed to the exoticization of all things linked to Japan in most journalistic accounts. That includes the rare articles on juku, of course. But the cherry blossoms, “Fujiyama”, geisha, etc. articles and motifs have nothing on the extent to which I am accustomed to the exoticization of Manhattan as a supplementary education researcher.

This week, Jenny Anderson had an article on tutors hired by parents of selective Manhattan schools. While the article (and the comments on it) contain a lot of interesting information and discussion, it’s hard not to read this information with an easy “ts, ts, ts, these überrich Manhattanites” reaction.

That kind of reaction misses the reality of the Manhattan situation for many parents around the world. For the U.S., hypereducation may be limited to the always-exotic island of Manhattan (minus palm trees and jungle), but in countries like Brazil, Egypt, Greece, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Turkey, among others, it is a pervasive reality.

NYT Article on Kumon

A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times ran an article by Kate Zernike on Kumon students in New York. [Thanks to Kenn Cukier for pointing me in the direction of the article.]

The main thrust of the argument in the article is that perceived competition for educational achievement is being pushed to lower-and-lower grades. For some reasons, three-year-olds memorizing numbers is always a favourite topic for journalists as this is meant to be shocking. Without endorsing Kumon worksheets as the path to enlightenment, I do think that some children get a lot of joy and some benefits out of such tutoring and the puzzle-aspects of these kinds of worksheets.

The broader point in the article is, however, that it is imagined/perceived competition and peer pressure that is driving the push of tutoring companies (Kumon and Sylvan are explicitly mentioned) into offer pre-school classes.

The article quotes a prominent Cal psychologist, Alison Gopnik, with a great analogy to the “escalation of supplemental education”: “Irish elk competing to see which had the biggest antlers. ‘The result is that they go around tottering, unable to walk, under the enormous weight of these antlers they’ve developed,'” (Kate Zernike, New York Times, May 15, 2011, ST1, “Fast-Tracking to Kindergarten?”).

Indicators of the “escalation of supplemental education” mentioned in the article include Kumon’s 250,000 students in the U.S. and describes Kumon in New York as “colonizing storefronts like so many Starbucks”.

Costs mentioned here at US$200-300 for preschoolers which is higher than what most Kumon parents would be paying in Japan, I think.

The article refers several times to the tension between ‘progressive’ preschools and the kind of tutoring that is offered by Kumon and the like. Parents seem to be caught in the middle between idealized progressive education and the perceived reality of competition in education that seems so powerful in NY city in particular.

Interesting that the article also describes economic/managerial pressures on Kumon that seem quite similar to the Japanese metropolitan context:

Most Kumon centers are franchises. But recognizing the prohibitive costs of rent in New York City, the parent company began opening centers itself in New York City a little over three years ago. It now has 36 in the five boroughs — 13 in Manhattan — with 14 more expected to open this year.

The article does reinforce the sense that supplementary education is limited to the island of Manhattan in the United States. This is, of course, far from the truth. Instead, extreme situations (preschools prepping for tests) always seem to be of greater interest to journalists, whether that is in the U.S. or in Japan.

There are two versions of supplementary education that are subject to current and past research: a) SAT prep, and b) the tutoring services authorized under the “No Child Left Behind” Act.

For the former, see a recent article by Claudia Buchmann and her collaborators, for example:

Claudia Buchmann, Dennis Condron, and Vincent Roscigno. 2010. “Shadow Education, American Style: Test Preparation, the SAT and College Enrollment“. Social Forces, 89 (2): 435-461.