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Instruction Matters: Lessons From a Mixed-Method Evaluation of Out-Of-School Time Tutoring Under No Child Left Behind


by Annalee G. Good, Patricia Ellen Burch, Mary S. Stewart, Rudy Acosta & Carolyn Heinrich — 2014

Background/Context: Under supplemental educational services (“supplemental services”), a parental choice provision of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), schools that have not made adequate yearly progress in increasing student achievement are required to offer low-income families free, afterschool tutoring. Existing research shows low attendance rates among eligible students and little to no aggregate effects on achievement for students who do attend.

Focus of study: We employ a framework grounded in examining the instructional setting, or “instructional core,” and we draw on the unique contributions of qualitative research to help explain the limited effects of supplemental services on student achievement. Specifically, we address the following research question: How can in-depth examination of the instructional core explain the impact of supplemental services on student learning?

Research Design: Our findings draw on data from an ongoing mixed-method and multisite study of the implementation and impact of supplemental educational services in five urban school districts located in four states. Although this paper includes quantitative data from this study, analysis focuses on qualitative data, including observations of tutoring sessions using a standardized observation instrument; semistructured interviews with district staff, provider administrators, and tutors; focus groups with parents of eligible students; and document analysis.

Findings: We identify two primary reasons for a lack of effects. First, there is a “treatment exposure” problem where most students receive far less than 40 hours of tutoring over the course of a school year, a critical threshold for seeing significant effects on achievement. In addition, there are discrepancies between an invoiced hour of tutoring and actual instructional time. Second, supplemental services has an instructional quality problem. Instruction lacks innovation; the curriculum typically does not align to that of the day school; programs do not meet all students' instructional needs, especially students with disabilities and English language learners; and there can be considerable variation in quality within the same provider.

Conclusions: Our findings lay the foundations for being able to not only establish best practices for supplemental services, but to suggest policy changes to facilitate these best practices and offer insights to a host of other parental choice, out-of-school time (OST), and accountability-based reforms.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 116 Number 3, 2014, p. -
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17351, Date Accessed: 10/24/2014 10:40:48 AM

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About the Author
  • Annalee Good
    University of Wisconsin, Madison
    E-mail Author
    ANNALEE G. GOOD is a Research Associate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has published and presented numerous papers on the nature of the instructional landscape in federally funded tutoring programs, as well as the role of K–12 classroom teachers in the development of educational policy.
  • Patricia Burch
    University of Southern California
    E-mail Author
    PATRICIA BURCH is an Associate Professor at the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California, where her research examines the role of private firms as influences in the design and implementation of K–12 education policy and how public education is being transformed by new forms of privatization. Her book, Hidden Markets: The New Education Privatization, was published by Routledge in 2009.
  • Mary Stewart
    University of Wisconsin, Madison
    E-mail Author
    MARY S. STEWART is a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Educational Policy Studies Department. Her research focuses on educational policy implementation, legal issues in education, and program evaluation.
  • Rudy Acosta
    University of Southern California
    E-mail Author
    RUDY ACOSTA is a doctoral candidate at the University of Southern California in the Rossier School of Education. His research focuses on educational policy of market-based initiatives in K–12 public schooling, access of information of educational policies to under-resourced communities, and parent and community organizing around school reform.
  • Carolyn Heinrich
    University of Texas, Austin
    E-mail Author
    CAROLYN HEINRICH is the Sid Richardson professor of public affairs and affiliated professor of economics and the director of the Center for Health and Social Policy at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin. Her research focuses on education and social welfare policy, labor force development, public management, and econometric methods for program evaluation, working directly with governments at all levels. Recent publications include articles in journals such as the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management and Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis and a book (2011), The Performance of Performance Standards.
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