used to be that only the very rich and the very poor had tutors. For the
former, it was to try to get the kid into an Ivy League college. For the
latter, it was a government-supplied tutor to try to help the kid pass enough
classes to graduate. But nowadays tutoring is big in the middle class, too. What
suddenly a $4 billion business, with revenues increasing by 15% per year since
2001, industry spokesmen say. The ever-present emphasis on statewide testing,
and the importance of standardized test scores on college admissions and
scholarship decisions, in the face of record-setting numbers of children trying
to get in to colleges, have opened the door for tutoring to become almost
it's costly - averaging around $20 an hour in small towns, to over $100 an hour
in urban areas - parents may view an investment in tutoring as a good one. And
it can be, if it will help Junior win a bigger financial aid package with
higher test scores, and take some of the load off those huge college tuition
locations can be in your home or the tutor's home or office. Tutors come in all
shapes and sizes: off-duty certified teachers . . . retired teachers working
part-time . . . subject-matter experts . . . college students and high school
students looking for extra income . . . the list is endless.
for the tutoring spike are rather discouraging, though: the more tutoring goes
on, the more evident it is that things are not getting taught in the regular
classroom that should be taught.
this can be blamed on the decades-old failure of public schools to teach
students to read using phonics-only instruction; obviously, excellent readers
are not going to need outside tutoring help on down the road.
But since schools
are so set on Whole Language philosophies in the early grades, you don't have
to be a psychic to know that, years later, those same children are going to
need help to learn the same amount through teaching and tutoring as past
generations could on their own, by reading.
are expected to deliver more and more content as measured by the tests, whether
there's time for it to sink in or not. Tutors can plug that gap, especially in
areas such as math and science, in which classroom educators might not be very
since standardized tests usually omit content that requires writing skill, many
schools are skimping on spelling, grammar, punctuation and other basics for
writing. That has created opportunities for writing mentors, coaches and tutors
to step in.
who want to get into top colleges, or be admitted to challenging majors and
programs, feel a need to take a lot of Advanced Placement courses, and the
homework may exceed the capabilities of their parents, so outside tutors can be
hired to fill the bill.
who are worried that their child may be "pigeonholed" into a vocational "track"
at school, instead of a college-bound "track," and want great scores on those
high-stakes tests, are signing kids up for tutors at an earlier and earlier
arrange for some after-school or summertime tutoring? It's up to you. You could
check with your local high school to find a nice, kind, honor student who might
be looking for part-time work. Sometimes younger children respond better to
someone closer to their own age, than a grown-up.
A word to the wise,
though: work it out with your child whether to tell anyone he or she is being
tutored; some kids are embarrassed about it. Be clear and tell your child
exactly what skills the tutor will help the child build; otherwise, there's a
tendency for the student to think he or she is permanently "dumb" and dependent
on help for learning. Frame the tutoring as a temporary, goal-oriented solution
so that it doesn't appear to be a permanent addition to the child's
the website of the National Tutoring Association, www.ntatutor.org