No Child Left Behind: Where Does the Money Go? Part 2
Susan Notes: This is Part 2 of a blockbuster policy brief by Gerald Bracey just released by the Education Policy Studies Laboratory at Arizona State University.
For one of my presentations, I made an overhead transparency of some of the vested financial interests of the scientific researchers and their connections to government policy. I tried color-coding to make the links easier to follow. When I came to Edward Kame'enui, I ran out of colors. He has financial links at so many levels, I can't list them all here .The bottom line is that we have a handful of researchers with financial links to their own research. They do the research
It appears to be a closed loop, hermetically sealed against outside influences. The old investor term "interlocking directorate" also seems appropriate.
Barnett Alexander "Sandy" Kress is within that circle. He was elected chairman of the Dallas County Democratic Party in 1986 and about then became interested in education. Kress became enamored by accountability and offered that as a way to raise test scores and money. In 1990, the Dallas School Board put him in charge of a commission to develop an accountability system. Kress' commission presented a system that ranked schools by test scores and offered bonuses to schools showing the greatest improvements. Kress was elected to the school board in 1992, but left the board in 1995 after allegations that he was involved in a taped conversation with another board member who had used racial slurs when discussing how to limit the power of Black board members. It was never proven if the other voice was Kress'.
Kress moved to Austin and was asked for a briefing on education by George W. Bush, then preparing to run against Governor Ann Richards. The tutoring led to friendship. After joining the law firm Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer, and Feld, Kress landed lobbying contracts with textbook publisher, McGraw-Hill. He was the principal builder of and head cheerleader for the Governor's Reading Initiative which handed most textbook contracts to that firm.
Kress played a major role in the construction of No Child Left Behind, and shortly after that law's passage, Kress' name turned up on lists of lobbyists in both Austin and Washington. One estimate puts his post-NCLB lobbying earnings at $4 million.
Kress is still officially a democrat and refers to himself as "post-partisan."
Such a loop is not new to the Bush administration nor is the link to textbook and testing companies solely the province of Sandy Kress. In 2002, writer Stephen Metcalf observed that the Bushes and the McGraws have had close ties since they started to vacation together in the 1930s. Harold McGraw, Jr., sits on the board of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. George H. W. Bush graced Mr. McGraw with a literacy award. McGraw ladled a literacy award on Rod Paige, and Paige, in turn, was a featured speaker at McGraw functions. Harold McGraw III was a member of the George W. Bush transition team and visited the White House the first day Bush occupied it.
The Business Roundtable, an organization serving 200 of America's largest corporations, has figured large in Bush's education program, being one of NCLB's most passionate advocates. The praise and support have been led enthusiastically by State Farm Insurance's CEO, Edward Rust, Jr., who holds the following posts: Chairman of the Business Roundtable's Education Task Force, Bush transition team member, and McGraw-Hill board member.
In the 1990's then-governor Bush pressed early literacy programs for Texas. Observers noted that almost all of the early literacy researchers Bush invited to speak and testify at various hearings were also McGraw-Hill authors, and that the testimony supported McGraw-Hill products.
In Georgia, Cindy Cupp is trying to break into the circle of the interlocking directorate. The former reading director for the Georgia Department of Education and now a publisher of K-1 beginning reading texts, Cupp reports that Georgia school districts that have included her materials in applications for Reading First grants have had their grants rejected. The Georgia Department of Education has admitted that reviewers of the applications were supposed to simply review the applications, not evaluate the programs themselves, but evaluate they did. Apparently, one negative evaluation of Cupp's products came from a reviewer who admitted later that she had not actually seen them.
The most publicly visible clash between a Reading First application and "scientifically based" reading curricula occurred when New York City installed the Phonics Month by Month program developed by Lucy Calkins at Columbia University. Not enough phonics, said critics, especially Reid Lyon at NICHHD. Sol Stern of the Manhattan Institute weighed in against the Calkins curriculum in the New York Post, and a long essay by James Traub in the New York Times Sunday Magazine questioned the wisdom of the city's approach. The application was repeatedly rejected. The city eventually caved in and abandoned the Calkins curriculum in 49 schools in favor of the Voyager Expanded Learning series, developed, in part, by Kame'enui in order to secure $34 million in Reading First money.
The selection of Voyager drew the ire of Betsy Gotbaum, the Public Advocate for the City of New York. Gotbaum observed that Voyager had been called "the best example of the worst reading programs for young children." Gotbaum asked New York City Schools Chancellor, Joel Klein four questions:
During your selection process, did you see research that indicated Voyager's success? If so, I would like to have a copy.
Did you consult any reading experts when choosing Voyager?
There are many successful reading programs across the country. Which programs did you evaluate and why did you select Voyager?
Why did you decide to implement Voyager citywide instead of testing the program in a small number of schools?
Klein never responded.
The irony of the Reading First situation, if it can be called irony, is that none of the programs approved for Reading First money can actually claim support from "scientifically based research." In its booklet, Identifying and Implementing Educational Practices Supported by Rigorous Evidence: A User Friendly Guide, the U.S. Department of Education holds up randomized studies, or randomized field trials as they are often called, as the "gold standard" of acceptable research. It is difficult to imagine a new drug receiving the approval of the Food and Drug Administration with no more evidence than what the test and textbook publishers offer for their products. Stephen Driesler of the American Association of Publishers noted that evidence supporting the effectiveness of these programs was missing.
Kathleen Kennedy Manzo had similar sentiments of these programs in Education Week:
They don't have randomized studies pitting their products against other methods or materials; the studies they have commissioned have not been published in scholarly journals; and the companies have not documented improvements in student achievement across the range of schools and students. The programs have thrived, however, on their reputations among educators as having met the specified-and perceived-research standards in the Reading First legislation which is part of the No Child Left Behind Act.
Some publishers appear to be trying to obtain more genuine research data, but one wonders if their efforts will fall short. For instance, Pearson has hired "a small army" of researchers and commissioned "independent" studies and reviews. The word "independent" appears in quotes because a common finding in pharmaceutical research is that research sponsored by the drug's manufacturer is much more likely to obtain results favorable to the drug than research sponsored by a government or a foundation.
It is not known what impact the adoption of specific materials for Reading First programs has on the rest of a school district. Are they also adopted for non-Reading First schools? Reading First ends at grade three. Are materials from the same publisher adopted beyond grade three in hopes of providing more continuity than a shift to another publisher might? The answer is unknown. What is known is that 40 states responded on a survey that the U.S. Department of Education was enforcing Reading First either "strictly" (18) or "very strictly" (22). Only a few said "not very strictly." This figure is second only to the 41 states giving the same responses for AYP.
The links of other researchers/entrepreneurs to politicians are also tightly woven. In late May 2005, it was announced that Kame'enui would leave the University of Oregon to become commissioner of special education for the U.S. Department of Education. At the same time, it was announced that Bush "Reading Czar," Reid Lyon, would leave NICHHD to develop a private teacher preparation program with George W. Bush friend, Randy Best.
Best developed and owned Voyager Expanded Learning, approved for Reading First, before a recent sale to ProQuest for $380,000,000. Best was also a "Pioneer," defined as a person who raised more than $100,000 for the presidential campaign of George W. Bush. Best was assisted in promoting Voyager by his senior vice president, Jim Nelson, whom Bush had earlier appointed to lead the Texas Education Agency. Nelson left Voyager in 2004 to become superintendent of the Richardson, Texas school district. His wife, Karen, remained as a Voyager vice president. A month after his appointment, Richardson District began purchasing large quantities of Voyager products. The total expenditure was over $400,000, but the purchase orders never exceeded $250,000, the threshold for an expenditure requiring the approval of the state's board of education. An earlier Richardson superintendent, Vernon Johnson, purchased Voyager curriculum materials for the district before leaving to become Voyager's CEO.
Voyager does not appear to be shy about donating to those who buy its products. Shortly after now-indicted Georgia State School Superintendent, Linda Schrenko, awarded Voyager a $1.1 million contract, Voyager contributed $56,750 to Schrenko's gubernatorial campaign (it failed).
The U.S. Department of Education earlier delivered $37 million to the American Board for the Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) which has developed a program to certify teachers through tests alone. So far only Idaho, Pennsylvania, Florida, Utah, and New Hampshire recognize credentials offered by the board. ABCTE initially contracted with the ACT testing program in Iowa City, IA, to provide the tests, but the agreement was short lived. ABCTE then signed with Promissor, a division of Houghton Mifflin. The Board has also contracted with Pearson VUE, an electronic testing subsidiary of Pearson Education to create online delivery of the tests. Thus far there is no projected link of ABCTE to the Best/Lyon project, but such a link in the future would not be surprising.
As of mid-2005, the financial impact from curriculum issues has been largely spent on reading. In 2003, though, the government announced a new program to be housed at the NICHHD, to try "to do for math and science what it has done for reading: sponsor a systematic program of research that will drive improvement in curriculum and instruction, especially for struggling students." Rodger Bybee, director of the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, opined that the development of curricular materials from the research should be left to educators, but it remains to be seen if that will happen.
Although there have been "math wars" analogous to the reading wars, the science curriculum would seem to have the potential for most controversy given the evolution/intelligent design debate and given that a substantial number of critics have accused the Bush administration of subjugating science to its ideological and policy agendas.
End of Year 1: Watch List
The school is placed on a watch list and must develop a plan for improvement.
End of Year 2: The Choice Option
Schools not making AYP for two consecutive years must offer all children in the school the option of transferring to a "successful" school. "Successful" is written in quotes because, as noted above, if any single subgroup fails the entire school fails. Thus 36 of 37 subgroups could show AYP, but the school would still be labeled "failing."
The choice option has been something of a farce, it is conceded all around. In New York, of some 300,000 eligible students in 2003-2004, only 8,000 transferred. Principals at the receiving schools complained so much about the arriving students that in 2004-2005, only 1,000 were permitted to transfer. Chicago has a similar ratio of eligible students to transfers and this likely holds in all major cities. The Center on Education Policy (CEP) estimates that maybe one percent of eligible students actually change schools. The CEP's surveys for the 2002-2003, 2003-2004, and 2004-2005 school years found that 0.8 percent, 1.8 percent, and 0.6 percent, respectively, of eligible students had transferred schools.
Lorna Jimerson of the Rural School and Community Trust coined the term "placism," a term coined to describe discrimination against people based on where they live. While there are aspects of placism in cities, they differ from those found in rural areas: Students in rural areas wishing to exercise their choice option might have none, or it might require a dysfunctionally long trip.
The choice option could have a major impact on schools and systems. The size of the impact to date depends on how one counts. Palm Beach County, Florida, the 16th largest district in the country, spent less than three percent of its allocation for transportation. Looked at another way, though, that is $975,000 that was not used for instruction. Perhaps in some places the transportation costs for the few students choosing to transfer are paid to a private firm. Mostly, though, they appear to be born by the districts using in-house resources.
The impact of the choice option, and of all other corrective actions imposed on schools, will grow over time. The state of California has projected that by the year 2013-2014, when all students are required to be proficient, NCLB will declare that 99 percent of the Golden State's schools are failing. California has among the lowest test scores in the nation as measured by NAEP, but even in Minnesota, one of the country's highest scoring states, the projection indicates an 80 percent failure rate by 2014.
The choice option will likely undergo revision when the law comes up for reauthorization in 2007. Popular ideas for revision include having school choice apply only to groups not making AYP or giving those groups priority, having school choice be one option among a number of options, or making school choice change places with the Supplemental Educational Services (SES) provision, bringing SES to bear in the second year and school choice in the third. If Michael Petrilli, speaking as a then-associate assistant deputy secretary, believes that the U.S. Department of Education will push for the creation of additional capacity for receiving schools. Petrilli admits that the creation of additional capacity "doesn't happen overnight." It is hard to see how one could accurately predict which schools would need what kinds of additional capacity.
The Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights (CCCR) has published material favorable to the choice option, apparently accepting without critical review and without results that the option benefits children. CCCR reports that in at least some places, the choice option assists desegregation, but provides examples only for a few districts in South Carolina and Alabama.
The CCCR has also promoted the idea that NCLB should include inter-district choice. At the present time, choice can be exercised only within a single district unless there is some voluntary collaboration between two or more districts or some state policy on inter-district choice. If the law were revised to required inter-district choice, some states would likely view that policy as a return to forced busing.
Finally, some would restore the original vision for the choice option which was to have private schools be eligible to receive the students from failing schools. This also appears to be a position favored by the U.S. Department of Education. "The same people who are saying capacity problems mean that we can't do school choice are the same people who argued against including private schools in No Child Left Behind," said Petrilli.
As with the other sanctions of NCLB, there is no scientifically-based research to bolster the idea that letting students transfer to "successful" schools will help them. And, in the case of transfers to private schools, the scientific evidence from Milwaukee, Cleveland, Dayton, New York City, and Washington, D.C., strongly suggests that the students who transfer obtain no achievement benefit. This option, though, could have significant benefit to private corporations.
End of Year 3: Supplemental Education Services
The provision for Supplemental Educational Services (SES) to schools that have failed to make AYP for three consecutive years has drawn the involvement of many companies. Over 1,800 companies have their names on approved provider lists in various states. Districts must set aside up to 20 percent of their total Title I grant for the combination of the choice option and SES. With little money being spent for choice, if the President's budget recommendations are adopted, more than $2 billion dollars will be available for SES contractors in the school year 2005-2006.
Not all contractors are for-profit corporations: non-profits, community organizations, institutions of higher education, faith-based organizations, and school districts themselves act as providers. The community and faith-based organizations are small. Additionally, if a district is itself declared to be "in need of improvement," it is no longer eligible to provide SES, although teachers in such a district can be and have been hired by private providers. A survey by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) found that the number of districts serving as providers shrank from 37 percent in 2003-2004 to 27 percent in 2004-2005, no doubt because more districts were determined to be in need of improvement and therefore ineligible to render SES.
Because urban areas are both the most populous districts and those most at risk of being declared in need of improvement, the largest sums for SES will be available principally to the private for-profits. CEP found that the percentage of urban districts providing SES shrank from 43 percent in 2003-2004 to only 11 percent in 2004-2005. Preliminary allocations for 2005-2006 indicate that the amount of money going to the 100 largest districts, which serve 2.6 million Title I children, will rise by 67 percent from $4.1 billion to $6.9 billion, making them all the more attractive to providers.
More than any other provision in NCLB, SES is seen as a potential source of inefficiency at best, fraud at worst as indicated by some 2005 headlines: "A Lucrative Brand of Tutoring Goes Unchecked," "Test-Prep Firms Bribing Students Just to Show Up," and "SES: Two Billion Reasons to Worry."
Under the law, states create lists of approved providers and districts must choose from those lists. In a school required to provide SES, all low-income children are eligible to receive the services. If all eligible children cannot be served, priority must be given to the lowest achieving first. According to the CEP, only about 20 percent of eligible children are receiving services, but districts in a CEP survey reported on average the funding capacity to serve only 22 percent of eligible students. This last figure might be high because people appear to be confused about SES eligibility. Some, how many is not known, think that to be eligible, children have to be low income and low performing when in fact they only have to be low income. The percentage that could be served was smallest in small districts (18 percent) and very large districts (16 percent).
Table 2 shows the preliminary allocations for the school year 2005-2006 for the nation's 20 largest school districts, rounded to the nearest million.
Table 2: Preliminary Title I Allocations 2005-2006, 20 Largest Districts
New York City $857,000,000
Los Angeles Unified 434,000,000
Dade County (FL) 138,000,000
Broward County (FL) 59,000,000
Clark County (NV) 53,000,000
Hillsborough County (FL) 44,000,000
Palm Beach County (FL) 33,000,000
Fairfax County (VA) 16,000,000
Orange County (CA) 38,000,000
Montgomery County (MD) 19,000,000
San Diego 49,000,000
Prince George's County (MD) 29,000,000
Duval County (FL) 30,000,000
Charlotte-Mecklenburg (NC) 24,000,000
Source: Title I Online. (2005, March 7). Preliminary Title I School District Allocations for SY 2005-06. Retrieved June 10, 2005, from: http://www.titleionline.com/libraries/titleionline/free_resources/allocation03-05.html
Note: The smallest allotment among the 100 largest districts is $12,000,000 which goes to Phoenix, 96th in size.
Who is minding the store?
The requirements for providers come close, on paper, to being as rigorous as those for curriculum adoption in Reading First. Providers are supposed to have a proven track record, to have research-based offerings, to offer materials aligned with the state's objectives, and to demonstrate that they are financially sound. They must promise to obey federal and state civil rights and health laws and regulations, and should have programs available to different groups of students-e.g., those who do not speak English as a native language.
These criteria seldom come into play in any meaningful sense. The state, which must approve the providers, can set aside only one percent of its Title 1 grant to administer that grant. It cannot field a staff who can evaluate all of the applicants rigorously-it is not known how many providers applied for SES status in California, but 257 are on the approved list. As mentioned earlier, more than 1,800 providers are on various state lists. The Michigan Department of Education in its entirety employs 200 people and has 98 approved providers. In Illinois, the state has one staff person to oversee the results from 75 approved providers.
Elizabeth Swanson, Director of After School and Community School Programs for Chicago Public Schools, testified before the House Committee on Education and the Work Force that the "evidence" that providers submitted and the "evaluation" (she put quotes around both words) process used by the State of Illinois were both inadequate.
Dr. Swanson contrasted the weak approval process and "cursory review" for SES providers with the "rigorous and extensive approval process for state or federal funding " She also admitted to chafing at having to "cede evaluation responsibilities to the state" and accept state-approved providers that CPS perceived as unqualified (Chicago has been successful in having one provider, Platform Learning, removed from seven schools in part because of tutors' repeated absences which, on at least one occasion, left 70 children watching the movie "Garfield" rather than studying reading and math. It continues to offer tutoring in 67 other Chicago schools as part of a $15 million contract).
Not only does the law tolerate a weak approval process, it applies no criteria to those who actually provide the programs to the children. While the law demands that all regular classroom teachers be "highly qualified" by 2005-2006 and sets out demanding criteria for establishing whether or not they are "highly qualified," no such criteria exist for the SES teachers and tutors unless they are criteria established by the provider.
Susan Wright of the Clark County, Nevada public school system put it this way: "Vendors do not have to hire highly qualified teachers, yet Title I schools must have only highly qualified teachers working with students. How is it appropriate for an outside vendor to hire 'unqualified' teachers or paraprofessionals and a school cannot?" Similarly, according to writer Susan Eaton, this double standard "underscores the hypocrisy inherent in the No Child Left Behind legislation's supplemental services provision. The law requires local districts, still without adequate funding, to retain a fuzzily defined cadre of 'highly qualified' teachers. But private tutors paid with public dollars need have no qualifications whatsoever."
Others have expressed concerns. Jack Jennings, CEO of the Center on Education Policy, near the end of 2004 commented, "[The states] better put something (to evaluate providers) in place pretty fast. Millions of dollars are being spent and nobody knows what's happening."
The weak oversight, though, is apparently no accident. What are seen as rigorous criteria for states that wish to adopt curricula for Reading First are seen as bureaucratic impediments for SES providers. "We want as little regulation as possible so the market can be as vibrant as possible," said Michael Petrilli, at the time a U.S. Department of Education official (he has since returned to the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation). In fact, districts and states alike are hamstrung in monitoring providers by federal rules. The law requires the state to make the determination that a provider has failed for two consecutive years and only then to remove that provider from the list of approved organization. But 35 of 50 states responding to a survey from the Center on Education Policy reported that determining whether the learning strategies of providers were high quality was a serious challenge, a response topped only by the challenge of determining if providers were raising achievement (36 states).
An unknown amount of money is diverted from instruction to "bribes" offered to the students to show up-in New York at least, the tutors do not get paid if the kids do not attend the tutoring sessions. New York rules allow companies to offer incentives to students for coming to the sessions, but forbid such action aimed at getting students to sign up.
The Princeton Review offers students vouchers for small prizes that they can obtain immediately, or the students can save the vouchers for a larger prize such as a PlayStation video game console or an MP3 player. Schools often have vendor fairs in order for parents to see the various offerings available. Companies at these fairs vie for parents' attention. Newton Learning brought in break-dancers to perform at the fairs, then offered Visa gift cards worth $100 to students who had perfect attendance for the 80-hour program. Platform Learning inked a contract with Sony to obtain Walkmans in bulk for their incentives.
Richard Condon, special commissioner of investigation for the New York City school district, launched an investigation into the marketing techniques. A December 2004 story indicated that the study would be complete in "the next few weeks," but a May 19, 2005, telephone query received the same answer-"in about three weeks."
Concerns over the quality of the services provided led nine providers to form the Education Industry Association (EIA) which now claims over 800 member businesses and individuals, although the list of members at the association's website shows only about 100 businesses. The EIA has developed definitions for various levels of tutors and a code of ethics for providers, but it is not clear how many providers follow the EIA guidelines. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education has established the Supplemental Educational Services Quality Center at the American Institutes for Research. The Center is charged with expanding the number of students receiving SES and with improving the coordination of SES services among the various actors involved.
Several popular providers advise that their programs have been supported by "independent" or "third party" research. When this researcher asked where that research might be found, though, they either did not reply or said the research was available only to customers. As shown in the "Curriculum" section of this report, the reading instruction programs used in Reading First are not supported by "gold standard" research. Large multinational firms with many resources produce the Reading First materials. It is unlikely that the much smaller SES providers had the resources to conduct or to have contracted to have conducted high-quality research.
Who is rendering services?
As previously noted, nationally there are some 1,800 approved SES providers. Some providers are more active than others. A survey of six states in 2002-2003 found 201 public schools and local education agencies serve as providers. The states had accepted between 56 percent and 86 percent of all applicants, some using formal rating systems, some not. This survey was conducted before the U.S. Department of Education's ruling that districts in need of improvement cannot provide SES and it is not known how the list would have been affected by that ruling. Fourteen colleges and universities served as providers as did 15 faith-based organizations, 32 private online companies, and 231 private for-profits.
Although there is diversity among types of providers, the for-profits are the most active. As of December 2004, among the 25 providers most frequently found on state-approved provider lists, 23 are for-profit companies. Only the Boys and Girls Club (19th) and the YMCA (23rd) are not. Plato Learning (now including Lightspan which it purchased) appeared on 41 lists while Kaplan K-12 Learning Services and Education Station, an offshoot of Sylvan, appeared on 37. Others on more than 30 lists were Huntington Learning Centers, Kumon Math and Reading Centers, and The Princeton Review. Not all of the providers on the lists are necessarily rendering services-contracts are arranged with individual school systems.
The actions vendors take in finding customers do not always seem particularly well behaved. According to Susan Wright of Clark County, Nevada, "Vendors have become extremely competitive in their recruitment of students. They have gone door-to-door recruiting students in neighborhoods regardless of [student] eligibility. Vendors have aggressively approached parents in front of schools to recruit parents. They have cause much anguish and confusion among these parents because they are being accosted by strangers hawking their wares." Vendors often thrust papers to sign with no explanation and seem in a rush to sign students up, but not to begin the instructional program or to ensure students' attendance.
Several companies have explored the possibility of using tutors in New Delhi and Bangalore to provide services. The West Delhibased Educomp Datamatics and Career Launcher in New Delhi are offering tutoring to American students, but a scan of their websites did not uncover any services aimed at SES-eligible students. In Fremont, California, a Kerala-born software engineer, Biju Mathew, operates Growing Stars which has 20 tutors in Kerala aiding 180 students in the U.S. for $20 an hour. Mathew claims all of his tutors all have mathematics or science backgrounds and prior teaching experience. "American teachers of comparable quality would be doubly expensive," says Mathew.
The outsourcing of tutoring to India has caused unease. Representative George Miller has asked the Government Accounting Office to investigate. Nancy Van Meter of the AFT expressed concern over the lack of quality control for all tutors, but thinks offshoring tutoring raises the issue even more dramatically.
In the entrepreneurial spirit exemplified by the earlier quote from Michael Petrilli, Petrilli's new boss, Chester Finn, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation said, "No one knows just how much such 'outsourcing' of SES services is underway, but NPR says it's happening so it's probably occurring, at least on a at least on a small scale. And why not? If a Bangalore call center can help you troubleshoot your computer or toaster over, why can't an English-speaking, Bangalore-based tutor help your child learn the parts of speech or principles of multiplication?"97 Finn's analogy has definite limits. As noted earlier, the criteria for highly qualified teachers do not apply to supplemental educational services. In addition, a company's computers are, with small variations on the fringes of the design, essentially identical machines. Children vary.
Will SES raise achievement? The earlier section on evaluation suggests we will not know.
Belfield & d'Entremont indicate that earlier experience with for-profit provision of education is not encouraging. They commented that experience from the 1990's suggests:
There are no easy administrative savings. For-profit providers do not offer instruction that is demonstrably superior to that in public schools.
There are additional costs in marketing, establishing brand equity, politicking and community building.
Few economies of scale exist, making it difficult to franchise the operations.98
Belfield and d'Entremont think we cannot tell about the impact of SES until a comprehensive evaluation is conducted, "But, disadvantaged students may not benefit from a free market of choice."99SES providers are likely benefiting from NCLB by providing services to children who are not from low-income families. According to the Washington Post, the number of parents sending their students to learning centers run by Sulvan, Kumon, etc., is rapidly growing. Some of these parents are likely the parents of children who were denied SES because they didn't meet the low-income criterion.100
Who is being served?
Although the proportion of students eligible for SES who are actually receiving services is much larger than the proportion exercising the choice option, for the most part it is still a small proportion. Only 11 states reported that 20 percent or more of eligible students were receiving services.101 A study conducted for the U.S. Department of Education in 2002-2003, found that "most states in the sample did not put forth much effort to encourage provider applications."102 In the districts monitored by this study, the percentage of eligible students receiving services ranged from 0 percent to 41 percent, with a median of 6 percent. Table 3 shows the results of a larger survey of 91 districts in 2003-2004 conducted jointly by Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and the American Institute for Social Justice (AISJ).
Table 3: Percent of Students Eligible to Receive Supplemental Educational Services Actually Receiving Such Services in 91 Districts Percent Eligible Enrolled Number of Districts
0-1 9 2-5 4 6-10 6 11-20 7 21-40 11 41-60 4 61-80 2 81-100 1
Source: Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, and, American Institute for Social Justice (2004).
Accountability Left Behind. Washington, DC and Dallas, TX: Authors. p. 6.
Thus SES has great growth potential growth and in the few years of NCLB, substantial growth has already been seen. Some of the numbers are impressive. Catapult Learning's income from NCLB rose from $2.8 million in 2003 to $21.3 million in 2004. It saw an enrollment jump from 5,000 to 25,000. Platform Learning, founded in 2002, served 12,000 students in 2003-2004 and an estimated 50,000 in 2004-2005. Huntington Learning Centers, which says it took a cautious approach to expansion, saw a tenfold increase from 1,000 students in 2002-2003 to 10,000 students in 2004-2005.103Districts have varied greatly in their ability and willingness to inform parents of the existence of SES. Some appear to have made extra efforts while others have been disorganized or obstructionist.
William Howell at Harvard University proposed the creation of an independent organization to disseminate information because "it is sheer folly to expect school districts to vigorously implement an accountability scheme that disrupts their school assignment procedures, drains money from their coffers, and threatens their administrative autonomy."104
Some districts complained they lacked the staff to provide information in a variety of languages. One district lamented that the students, who did not really understand the SES process, had to act as the translators for their parents. In some districts, many letters to parents came back, "return to sender: address unknown." It must be kept in mind that SES is available only to the children of low-income parents. Such parents normally experience many work-related and social capital difficulties that hinder their getting involved with their children's schooling. They tend to remain distant from the school. 105
Providers have noted that districts face many problems in implementing SES, but at the same time feel that some actions have been obstructionist. Jeffrey Cohen, President of Catapult Learning, told the House Committee on Education and the Workforce that "we have seen parent notification letters that are impossible to decipher. We have seen multi-part registration processes that seem to challenge or dare parents to register, rather than encourage them. We have been prohibited from talking to school principals or parents."106
Similarly the report from ACORN/AISJ noted that "even parents who are interested in enrolling their children in the supplemental services program are being excluded through confusion, too many steps and too much paperwork, a lack of convenient locations and a lack of home computers."107
Still, Cohen reported that, overall, the enrollments in SES had grown 100 percent from 2002-2003 to 2003-2004, and further large increases were anticipated.
A problem was voiced by Kevin Teasley, president of the Greater Educational Opportunities Foundation (an SES provider in Indianapolis) concerning how districts get paid. According to Teasley, in Indianapolis at least, providers are paid on a per-pupil basis. It does not matter if the hourly rate is $18 an hour or $100 an hour. In testimony to the House Committee on Education and the Work Force, Teasley suggested setting a minimum number of hours that tutoring must be provided. It is not clear how widespread this payment practice is.108End of Years 4 and 5 The school year 2005-2006 will mark the fourth year of the NCLB law. Thus no schools have experienced the corrective actions the law calls for after four or five consecutive years of not making AYP. Certainly the option of turning entire schools over to Education Management Organizations or other private firms has the potential to send large sums to the private sector. Some states-Texas, Colorado, California, Oregon and Michigan among them-appended NCLB to their ongoing state accountability programs. Michigan, in particular, used the year 2003-2004 as a quasi year four to prepare 101 schools, mostly in the Detroit area, for restructuring in 2004-2005. It is too early to have any test information from these schools, but the Center on Education Policy issued a brief report with some qualitative data and case studies of schools that chose different options for improvement.109 Michigan did not impose the more draconian sanctions such as state or private firm takeover, nor did it reopen any schools as charter schools, but offered a menu of options from which schools could choose. Most chose to replace staff and/or the principal (63 percent), imported an external model (15 percent ), employed a coach from the Coaches Institute (12 percent), or changed the governance by appointing a governing board (12 percent) (numbers do not sum to 100 percent because some schools chose more than one strategy). The Coaches Institute is unique to Michigan, based on Edgar Schein's theories of managing change (themselves built on Kurt Levin's theorizing), and developed by the Alliance for Building Capacity in Schools, a collaboration of 13 institutions of higher education, teachers unions, parent groups, public schools and professional education organizations.
Looking at the consequences of failing to meet the requirements of NCLB over differing periods of time one is struck by two things:
The large sum of money that flows through the states and districts into private coffers, especially to those coffers politically close to the Bush administration and
The stunning double standard of the feet-to-the-fire treatment of public schools contrasted with the lax treatment of private corporations that provide materials or services the law requires the schools to use. A summary of where money might flow to private sources and the amounts involved:
Test development, scoring and reporting: $2.29 billion per year by 2006 (Eduventures estimate).
Curriculum adoption, Reading First: potential annual amount $1.1 billion. Actual amount unknown.
Curriculum adoption, other curriculum areas, other grades: potential and actual unknown.
Choice and Supplemental Services: potential annual amount, $2 billion, actual unknown.
"Restructuring" (various forms): potential amount and actual amount unknown.
Contracting for services to monitor cheating: unknown.
Contracting to develop student-tracking databases: unknown.
Professional development: unknown.
Even without having firm figures, it is clear that several billions of taxpayer dollars will be spent each year and it is equally clear that, at present, no real process of accountability is in place to monitor where the money is spent or how effectively it is spent. History shows that under such conditions money is wasted and fraudulent expenditures are likely. Over the years, districts will continue to spend money on curriculum and testing and they will spend more and more money spent on choice, supplementary services, and various forms of school "reconstitution." As reported earlier, California predicts that by 2013-2014, NCLB will label 99 percent of its schools as failures, while Minnesota puts the figure at 80 percent. Most states have a "balloon mortgage" approach to AYP, requiring little improvement in the first few years and much larger achievement gains as the witching year of 2014 approaches.110
Currently, the U.S. Department of Education holds states, districts, and schools strictly accountable for achievement gains or lack there of, but exerts no pressure
whatsoever on the companies providing services to the education agencies, and has no way of knowing where the money goes. As noted earlier, the education agencies are held to strict, explicit criteria of accountability, but those same criteria are seen as bureaucratic barriers when applied to private firms and are withheld from private firms in order to produce the most "vibrant" market possible. Eaton called this hypocritical. This researcher could not agree more. The U.S. Department of Education should establish policies and procedures to rectify this dreadful state of affairs.
Notes & References
1 For example: Emery, K. & Ohanian, S. (2004). Why is corporate America bashing our public schools? Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Altwerger, B. (Ed.). (2005). Reading for profit: how the bottom line leaves kids behind. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Allington, R. L. (2002). Big Brother and the national reading curriculum. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
2 Welner, K. G. (in press ). Can irrational become unconstitutional? NCLB's 100% presuppositions. Equity and Excellence in Education. Haas, E., Wilson G., Cobb, C., & Rallis, S. (in press ). One hundred percent proficiency: A mission impossible. Equity and Excellence in Education. Bracey, G. W. (2004, Fall). The perfect law: No child left behind and the assault on public schools. Dissent, pp. 62-66.
3 Connecticut Department of Education. (2005, March). Cost of implementing the federal No Child Left Behind Act in Connecticut. Hartford, CT: Author. Retrieved June 9, 2005, from http://www.state.ct.us/sde/NCLB_Study_2_28_05.pdf Ohio Department of Education. (2003, December). Projected costs of implementing the federal "No Child Left Behind" Act in Ohio. Columbus, OH: Author. Retrieved June 9, 2005, from www.ode.state.oh.us/legislator/COST_OF_NCLB/COST%20OF%20IMPLEMENTING%20NCLB-012104.pdf
National Conference of State Legislatures. (2005, April). No Child Left Behind: potential costs to the states. Denver, CO: Author. Retrieved June 9, 2005, from http://www.ncsl.org/programs/educ/FiscalNCLB.htm
Mathis, W. J. (2003, May). Costs and benefits. Phi Delta Kappan, 84, 679-686. Imazeki, J. & Reschovsky, A. (2004, September). Is NCLB an un (or under) funded federal mandate? Evidence from Texas. National Tax Journal, 57, 571-588 4 Helderman, R.S., & Mui, Y.Q. (2003, September 25). Comparing schools' progress difficult: No Child Left Behind law allows states to choose their own tests and passing standards. Washington Post, p. B1.
5 Gootman, E. (2004, July 17). City will limit chance to leave failing schools. New York Times, p. A1.
6 Reid, K. S. (2004, November 3). District spars with Ed. Dept. over tutoring. Education Week, p. 3.
7 U. S. Department of Education, Office of the Under Secretary. (2002). No Child Left Behind: A desktop reference, 2002. Washington, DC: Author. p. 18.
9 Government Accounting Office. (2003, May). Characteristics of tests will influence expenses; information sharing may help states realize efficiencies (GAO-03-389). Washington, DC: Author. Page 44 of 50
11Rebarber, T. & McFarland, T. (2002). Estimated cost of the testing requirements in the No Child Left Behind act. Washington, DC: Accountability Works. Retrieved June 9, 2005 from http://www.accountabilityworks.org/publications/no_child_left_behind_cost.pdf
12 Olson, L. (2002, March 13). Study: Money is sufficient to meet ESEA testing rules. Education Week, p. 5.
13 National Conference of State Legislatures. (2005). Task Force on No Child Left Behind: Final Report. Denver, CO: Author. Retrieved June 9, 2005, from www.ncls.org/programs/educ/nclb_report.htm
14 Olson, L. (2004, December 1). Law bestows bounty on test industry. Education Week, pp. 1, 18-19.
15 Olson, L. (2005, May 25). Publishers roll out classroom tests. Education Week, p. 6.
16 Olson, L. (2004, December 1). Law bestows bounty on test industry. Education Week, pp. 1, 18-19.
18 See: www.edusoft.com
19 Olson, L. (2004, December 1). Law bestows bounty on test industry. Education Week, pp. 1, 18-19.
20 See for example, Madaus, G. F. (2000) A brief history of attempts to monitor testing. Chestnut Hill, MA: National Board on Educational Testing and Public Policy. Madaus, G. F., Haney, W., Newton, K.B., & Kreitzer, A. (1993). Proposal for a monitoring body for tests used in public policy: Report submitted to the Ford Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation. Chestnut Hill, MA: Boston College.
21 Miner, B. (2004-2005, Winter). Testing companies mine for gold. Rethinking Schools, p. 1.
22 Henriques, D., & Steinberg, J. (2001, May 20). Right answer, wrong score: test flaws take toll. New York Times, Section 1, p. 1. See also, Bracey, G. W. (2003, October) The concerned dad doggedness award. In, The thirteenth Bracey report on the condition of public education. Phi Delta Kappan, 85(2), 158.
23 Berliner, D.C., & Nichols, S. (2005). The inevitable corruption of indicators and educators through high-stakes testing. Tempe, AZ: Educational Policy Studies Laboratory, Arizona State University.
24 Olson, L. (2004, December 1). States writing penalty clauses into testing contracts. Education Week, p. 19.
25 National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2002, April) Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching Children to Read. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved June 13, 2005, from http://www.nichd.nih.gov/publications/nrp/smallbook.htm
26 Garan, E.M. (2002). Resisting reading mandates: how to triumph with the truth. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Allington, R.L. (Ed.). (2002). Big brother and the national reading curriculum: How Ideology Trumped Evidence. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Coles, G. (2003). Reading the naked truth: literacy, legislation and lies. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
27 Yatvin, J. (2002). "Minority View." In, Report of the national reading panel: teaching children to read. Washington, DC: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Retrieved June 9, 2005, from www.nichd.nih.gov/publications/nrp/report.pdf
28 Manzo, K.K. (2004, February 4). Reading programs bear similarities across the states. Education Week, p. 1, 13.
29 Kame'enui, E., & Simmons, D. (n.d.). Consumers Guide to Evaluation a Core Reading Program: A Critical Elements Analysis. Eugene, OR: University of Oregon. Retrieved June 9, 2005, http://www.justreadflorida.com/docs/guide.pdf 30 Center on Education Policy. (2005, June). Ensuring academic rigor or inducing rigor mortis? Issues to watch in Reading First. Washington, DC: Author, pp. 7-9. Retrieved June 9, 2005, from www.cep-dc.org.fededprograms/RreadingFirst/Reading First7June2005.pdf
31 Driesler, S. (2005, March 8). Letter to Martin Kaufman, Dean, College of Education, University of Oregon. Retrieved June 9, 2005, from www.susanohanian.org/show_nclb_stories.html.id=225
33 Manzo, K.K. (2004, September 8). Select group ushers in reading policy. Education Week, pp. 22-23.
34 Manzo, K. K. (2004, September 8). In crowd gets large share of contracting work. Education Week, pp.22-23.
35 Garan, E. (2005). Scientific flimflam: A who's who of entrepreneurial research." In, Altwerger, B. (Ed.), Reading for Profit: How the Bottom Line Leaves Kids Behind. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
36 Some figures in this section were obtained from the websites for the Texas Ethics Commission (http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/ ) and the Secretary of the Senate, U. S. Government (http://www.senate.gov/). Most textual material is a composite derived from two articles: Pyle E. (2005, May). "Te$t Market." Texas Observer, May pp.6-7,12-13,26-27. Parks, S. (2005, March 6). The Big Man on School Reform. Dallas Morning News, p. A1.
37 Ibid. 38 Ibid. 39 Metcalf, S. (2002, January). "Reading between the lines." The Nation. Retrieved June 9, 2005, from www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml%3Fi=20020128&s=metcalf 40 Manzo, K.K. (2005, May 11). Ga. officials admit mistakes on 'Reading First' rules. Education Week, pp. 21-22.
41 Stern S. (2003, October 20). $40 million goof. New York Post. Retrieved June 9, 2005, from www.manhattan-institute.org/html/_nypost-40_million.htm
42 Traub, J. (2003, August 3). New York's new approach. New York Times Education Life, Section 4A.
43 Manzo, K.K. (2004, January 14). N.Y.C. shifts reading plan in 49 needy schools. Education Week, p. 7.
44 Gotbaum, B. (2003, May 6). Gotbaum calls on Chancellor Klein to justify use of untested reading curriculum: Letter to New York City Schools Chancellor, Joel Klein. [Press Release]. New York: Office of the Public Advocate for the City of New York. Retrieved June 9, 2005, from www.pubadvocate.nyc.gov/new/releases_5_6_03.html
45 Gotbaum, B. (Personal Communication, June 1, 2005).
46 U. S. Department of Education. (2003, December). Identifying and implementing educational practices supported by rigorous research: A user friendly guide. Washington, DC: Retrieved June 9, 2005, from http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/rigorousevid/index.html
47 Manzo, K. K. (2004, September 15). Leading commercial series don't satisfy 'Gold Standard.' Education Week, pp. 16-17.
49 Lexchin, J., Bero, L.A., Djulbegovic, B., & Clark, O. (2003, May 31). Pharmaceutical industry sponsorship and research outcome and quality: systematic review. British Medical Journal.
50 Center on Education Policy. (2005). Ensuring academic rigor or inducing rigor mortis? Issues to watch in Reading First. Washington, DC: Author.
51 Manzo, K. K., (2005, May 24). National reading czar to leave public sector. Education Week (web only).
52 See: www.whitehouseforsale.org/ContributorsAndPaybacks/pioneer_search.cfm
53 Hughes, K. (2005, May 8). Purchases raise ethics concerns. Dallas Morning News, p. 1S. 54 Gotbaum, B. (2003, May 6). Gotbaum calls on Chancellor Klein to justify use of untested reading curriculum: Letter to New York City Schools Chancellor, Joel Klein. [Press Release]. New York: Office of the Public Advocate for the City of New York. Retrieved June 9, 2005, from www.pubadvocate.nyc.gov/new/releases_5_6_03.html
See also http://www.whitehouseforsale.org/ContributorsAndPaybacks/pioneer_profiles.cfm?pioneer_ID=524 and Bush donor profile: Randy Best. (2003). Texans for Public Justice. Available at: www.tpj.org/docs/pioneers/pioneers_view.jsp?id=524
55 Blair J. (2003, April 23). New teacher board parts ways with ACT. Education Week, p. 7.
56 Galley, M. (2003, September 3). Math and science to get own research center. Education Week, pp. 34, 36.
57 See for example: Viadero, D. (2004, March 3). In Bush administration, policies drive science scholars' group claims. Education Week, p. 20. Rehm, D. (2004, 4 March). Good work: an interview with Howard Gardner (video). Diane Rehm Show, WAMU-FM, 88.5. Available at: http://wamu.org/programs/dr/04/03/04.php
Suskind, R. (2004, October 7). Without a doubt. New York Times Sunday Magazine, p. 44. National Council for Research on Women. (2004). Missing: information about women's lives. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved June 9, 2005, from www.ncrw.org/misinfo/report.htm 58 Gootman, E. (2004, 17 July). "City will limit chance to leave failing schools." New York Times, p. A1.
59 Rossi, R. (2003, 29 April). To Duncan, No Child Left Behind law is 'burdensome' and 'impractical.' Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved June 9, 2005, from www.suntimes.com/output/education/cst-nws-arne29.html
Page 47 of 50
60 Center on Education Policy. (2005). From the capitol to the classroom: Year 3 of the No Child Left Behind Act. Washington, DC: Author. p. 112. Retrieved June 9, 2005, from www.cep-dc.org/pubs/nclby3/press/cep-nclby3_23Mar2005.pdf
61 Jimerson, L. (in press). Placism in No Child Left Behind. Equity and Excellence in Education.
62 Shah, N. (2005, May 25). Money slated for needy schools to pay for tutoring, busing under No Child Law. Palm Beach Post.
63 Payne, G. (2004, July). The implementation of the accountability provisions of the No Child Left Behind: a state perspective. Washington, DC: Center on Education Policy. Retrieved June 9, 2005, from www.cep-dc.org/pubs/Forum28July2004
64 Walsh, J. (2004, February 26). All Minnesota left behind? St. Paul Pioneer Press. 65 Hendrie, C. (2005, April 20). NCLB transfer policy seen as flawed. Education Week, p, 1, 14-15. 66 Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights. (2004, May). Choosing better schools. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved June 9, 2005, from www.cccr.org/Choosing BetterSchools.pdf
67 Hendrie, C. (2005, April 20). NCLB transfer policy seen as flawed. Education Week, p, 1, 14-15.
68 Saulny, S. (2005, April 4). A lucrative brand of tutoring goes unchecked. New York Times, p. A1.
69 Center on Education Policy. (2005). From the capitol to the classroom: Year 3 of the No Child Left Behind Act. Washington, DC: Author. p. 132. Retrieved June 9, 2005, from www.cep-dc.org/pubs/nclby3/press/cep-nclby3_23Mar2005.pdf
70 Ibid., p. 132.
71 The Title I Report, www.titlei.com (Subscribers only).
72 Saulny, S. (2005, April 4). A lucrative brand of tutoring goes unchecked. New York Times, p. A1.
73 Levy, J. (2005, January 26). Test-prep firms bribing students just to show up. New York Sun, p. 1.
74 Murray, C. (2005, June). SES: two billion reasons to worry. ESchoolNews, p. 1. Retrieved June 9, 2005, from www.eSchoolNews.com/news/showStory.cfm?ArticleID=5667
75 Center on Education Policy. (2005). From the capitol to the classroom: Year 3 of the No Child Left Behind Act. Washington, DC: Author. p. 133. Retrieved June 9, 2005, from www.cep-dc.org/pubs/nclby3/press/cep-nclby3_23Mar2005.pdf
77 Approved Supplemental Education Services for California can be found at: www.tutorsforkids.org/stateinfo.asp?stateName=California
78 Center on Education Policy. (2004, November). Makeovers, Facelifts, or Reconstructive Surgery: An early look at NCLB school restructuring in Michigan. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved June 9, 2005, from www.cep-dc.org/fededprograms/Michigan_Nov2004.pdf 79Approved Supplemental Educational Services for Michigan can be found at www.tutorsforkids.org/stateinfo.asp?stateName=Michigan
80 Grossman, K. (2005, April 26). No early dismissals for underperforming CPS tutors. Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved June 9, 2005, from www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-tutor26.htm
81 Supplemental Education Services Providers: Hearings before the U. S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce, 109th U.S. Congress (2005, April 26) (testimony of E. Swanson).
82 Gewertz, K. (2005, March 16). Private tutoring firm ousted from 7 Chicago schools. Education Week, p. 5.
83 Wright, S. (2005, May 16). Supplemental Educational Services. Paper presented to Forum on Supplemental Education Services, Center on Education Policy, Washington, DC.
84 Eaton, S. (2004, December 8). Outsourcing the tutor's job: public funds, private companies, and the needs of urban schools. Education Week, p. 29-31.
85 Reid, K. S. (2004, December 8). Federal law spurs private companies to market tutoring. Education Week, p. 18-19.
86 Saulny, S. (2005, April 4). A lucrative brand of tutoring goes unchecked. New York Times, p. A1.
87 Center on Education Policy. (2005). From the capitol to the classroom: Year 3 of the No Child Left Behind Act. Washington, DC: Author. p. 133. Retrieved June 9, 2005, from www.cep-dc.org/pubs/nclby3/press/cep-nclby3_23Mar2005.pdf
88 Levy, J. (2005, January 26). Test-prep firms bribing students ju
Gerald W. Bracey, George Mason University
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