By Dr.. Sandi Ayaz
Executive Director
National Tutoring Association

In the past eight years the tutoring industry has exploded ten-fold. This staggering growth is beneficial for students in many ways especially with regard to accessibility to tutors and the variety of tutorial disciplines (subjects) offered to students; however, this tutor explosion has also brought with it a huge number of untrained, uncertified, and uninsured practitioners. Many parents hire tutors not only to assist home schooled students and academically challenged students, but also to encourage and challenge gifted students. No matter the case, parents need to take special care when hiring tutors, checking credentials and asking pertinent questions. The National Tutoring Association (NTA) offers parent resources such as a list of questions for parents to ask prospective tutors (www.ntatutor.org).

In addition, in a climate where the government confuses tutoring with academic coaching and mentoring, and funds earmarked for tutorial programs are often misspent, The NTA  wants your assistance in gathering information that shows exactly how much money is being spent in this multi-billion dollar enterprise each year (where much of the money is spent under the table), in which subjects, and at which levels. More importantly, the NTA needs your opinion on whether tutors should be trained, certified, background checked, and asked to carry liability insurance so that your students are safe. The NTA is initiating a first-of-its-kind national survey for parents. The survey is designed to allow parents to broadly report their views of tutoring and its relationship to mainstream education. The survey is structured in 5 parts:

  • Who is being tutored
  • The cost of tutoring
  • The types of tutoring used
  • Benefits of tutoring
  • Issues in tutoring

The purpose for gathering this data is so that all forms of education and policy-makers can for the first time understand the scope and role of tutoring to American families. This is not an abstract academic survey; it represents a genuine opportunity for parents to communicate their current levels of use of tutoring and why they use tutors for their students.

The importance of information about who is being tutored is that it will demonstrate what drives parents to take on tutors. For example, do most families take on tutors for children in elementary, middle, or high school?  Also, why do parents seek tutors for their children? If this is understood then educational authorities and policy makers can better understand the specific educational needs of families and their motivations.

Tutoring costs can be significant but there is no accurate data on families. How can governments support the decisions made by growing numbers of families if they do not understand the amount of money being spent by families?

Finally, there are many misconceptions about tutoring. Generally the focus is on ‘hot-housing’ exam preparation and various State and national tests. If parents can state the benefits of tutoring and the issues in tutoring, then parent groups, school administrators, government policy-makers, tutors and other stakeholders can work to address these issues.

This survey represents an opportunity for parents to become heard in a way that has not been done before. It represents an opportunity for the educational sector in America to  re-cast the national dialogue on education generally, and tutoring specifically.

PLEASE feel free to complete this survey anonymously and send it to us. The survey be open until December 31, 2011.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NTA_Parent.

Pass this article to other parents or direct them to our website www.ntatutor.org where they can find the link to the online survey.