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Guest Writer Carole Richards - Benefits of the No Child Left Behind Act

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By Carole Richards

 

I strongly support the principles of NCLB.  From some of my columns, you may have gotten the wrong impression.  I stated that our schools “teach the tests” instead of teaching our children to learn how to learn.  However, I definitely support NCLB as there are many benefits to it.

Our company, North Coast Education Services (NCES), is a provider to hundreds of children under NCLB in addition to providing services to private clients and children using the Ohio Autism Scholarship Program.

Having provided tutoring since 2003 to children through NCLB, we have seen a dramatic shift for many families qualifying for NCLB or Supplemental Education Services (SES).  These are some of the benefits of NCLB through SES.

 

  1. Parents are beginning to understand.  Initially, parents didn’t understand the value of the free SES tutoring or how it would benefit their children.  Our first year, only about 80 children signed up for SES from our company.  Many children didn’t regularly attend tutoring.  We called families to encourage their children to regularly attend tutoring.  Often parents wouldn’t talk with us or return phone calls.  There seemed to be an apathy and lack of understanding that free SES tutoring really helps their children.  Today, many parents are becoming more proactive, are demanding quality services, and are very responsive to our calls. 

 

  1. Parents are more engaged in their children.  Urban parents have been blamed for lack of parental involvement for years.  Having tutored urban children in the city of Cleveland and run a Welfare to Work Program, I have first-hand experience with many families in poverty.  These families love their children and want the best for them as much as any more affluent family.  However, the parents frequently lack strong reading and math skills themselves.  How can they help their child without these skills?  NCLB allows families to participate in their child’s education.  Our tutors go to the clients’ homes so they regularly communicate with the parents.  One parent told the whole story when she said to our tutor, “I want better for my son than I have.” 

 

  1. Parents become educated consumers.  SES families ask better questions when they call for services.  They are able to select a SES provider because they better understand its benefits and what to look for in quality services.

 

  1. SES children make huge gains in reading and math skills.  We have seen students dramatically increase reading skills one to 2 years with just 15 hours of tutoring.  Math skills gains have improved even more rapidly. 

 

  1. Children more engaged in learning.  Some families return for SES tutoring for two or more years because they see its value.  Their children have become motivated learners and are anxious to continue tutoring.

 

  1. SES Providers are evaluated by State of Ohio.  For a several years after SES tutoring began, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) did little to manage the huge numbers of SES providers approved in Ohio.  During the last year or two, the ODE has taken a stronger stance on the NCLB program.  Just a few years ago there were more than 250 providers in Cuyahoga County alone.  Today that number has been reduced to 150 … progress, not perfection.  (Massachusetts has 11 providers for the entire state.)  This year Ohio Department of Education staff met with NCLB providers and school district representatives to get feedback.  They also observed tutoring in the field.  It’s too bad it took so long, but it is encouraging that the ODE is taking a more “hands on” approach to NCLB.

 

While NCLB isn’t perfect, it’s not the problem.  The problem is the approach of ODE and our schools in their frenzy to increase test scores.  While I’m not trying to diminish the importance of increasing scores, a better approach would be to teach our children to read, do basic math and think instead of teaching to the test.  I believe our children would learn more and test scores would rise more quickly with that approach.

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Carole Richards is president of North Coast Tutoring Services, president of the Creative Education Institute which holds its Academic Fun & Fitness Camp at Lakeland Community College, author of RICHARDS READ Systematic Language and a frequent guest on radio and TV.  She can be reached at caroler@northcoasted.com.

 

Contact: John Kusik, Vice President

North Coast Education Services 31300 Solon Road, Suite 1  Solon, Ohio 44139

440-914-0200 Fax 440-542-15604 johnk@northcoasted.com

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