Wednesday, October 15, 2003

NYC Students Not Signing Up For Tutoring

It doesn't really surprise me that students eligible for tutoring (under NCLB) aren't signing up in droves: It is quite a process for a document to get from the Dept. of Ed. to a parent - and back. First, the principal has to receive it, understand it's importance, arrange for translation, and get it to the APs. The assistant principals (typically) make copies for each class, choose a student monitor, and deliver a set to each class, often without any advance warning to the teachers. The teacher will take the class set and either hand it out right then, or at the end of the period, or leave it on the desk by mistake. If the teacher is in a hurry or annoyed at being interrupted, he or she may not notice that it is an important document and therefore will not go over how to fill it out with the students. If the teacher does not stress the importance of the form to the children, many of them will throw it out or leave it behind in the classroom. Even if the teacher DOES stress its importance, it may get lost or ignored. If the child brings it home, he or she must accurately convey to a parent how important it is and by what date it must be returned. Some children's parents are at work when they get home and see the paper only if it is left on the kitchen table. Many parents (for a dozen reasons) may have trouble understanding or reading the document, let alone filling it out correctly. If understood, filled out correctly, and given back to the child, that form still has to make it back into the teacher's hand (and from there to the office) in a timely fashion in order to result in tutoring for the child.

The first year of NCLB transfers, a transfer-document was handed out 24 hours before the deadline, by exactly the method described above. I noticed that it was important, and went over it with my kids, but there was no possible way for a parent to collect the necessary information that evening and return it the next day. Why did we not receive it earlier? Accident, incompetence, conspiracy? A little of each?

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