Supplemental Education Services Research Paper Starter

Supplemental Education Services

(Research Starters)

A provision in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) authorizes funds to provide extra academic assistance to eligible children in schools that receive Title I federal funding. Teaching services, such as tutoring and homework assistance, are offered beyond the regular school day, usually in after-school, weekend or summer programs. Providers of Supplemental Education Services (SES) may be public or private (non-profit or for-profit) entities that meet each State's standards for authorization. To be approved, SES providers are to deliver services that are high in quality, based on research and created to increase student educational success. Families of eligible students are invited, but not required, to select SES for their children. Since NCLB was signed into law, hundreds of millions of dollars have been allocated to SES. States are responsible for overseeing the use of federal funds for SES; however, many feel that additional funds are needed to more closely monitor SES providers and to evaluate whether the programs are effective in increasing student achievement.

Keywords Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP); Local Educational Agency (LEA); No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB); School Improvement; SES Provider; State Educational Agency (SEA); Supplemental Educational Services (SES); Title I


Supplemental educational services (SES) are a portion of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) that allow for additional academic assistance for young students who are eligible for such help. NCLB, signed into law by President Bush in January of 2002, covers Title I, the federal government support program for disadvantaged students. At the core of NCLB are a number of measures intended to improve student achievement and to hold states and schools more accountable in using federal funds to accomplish student progress.

Under the NCLB laws, states are required to submit annual "report cards" showing a range of information related to the performance of school districts in promoting student achievement. Based on a formula spelled out in the law, individual schools must meet state-mandated Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) levels. Schools that stop meeting AYP three consecutive years are assigned to the school improvement category and are mandated to use a part of their Title I funds to offer more options for educational services to students who qualify.

Supplemental educational services include tutoring, remediation, and other educational interventions that are related to the state's academic content standards and are given beyond the normal school day through after-school, weekend or summer programs. The law requires that services be very good quality, based on research, and created to improve student educational success.

It is worth noting that a study of Baltimore public schools found that “students who attended schools that showed AYP, particularly elementary schools, had significantly more total hours of participation in SES than their counterparts who attended schools that did not make AYP” (Harding, Harrison-Jones, & Rebach, 2012, p. 63). Their study also found that “students' level of participation in SES programs seems to be better in schools that attained AYP. In fact, higher levels of participation may be associated with higher scores on the [Maryland Schools Assessment], which then allows schools to make AYP. Schools that did not make AYP had lower participation rates in SES programs” (Harding et al., 2012, p. 63).

The state educational agency (SEA) is required to identify organizations that are public and private and that meet the standards as providers of SES. Parents of students who qualify are advised by the local educational agency (LEA) that supplemental educational services are available for their child. Parents, having ultimate decision-making responsibility for their children, are invited (not required), to select from the list of SES providers that have been approved by the state and that are available at their child's LEA or within a reasonable geographic distance. The LEA signs a service agreement with the SES provider that the parent chooses, services are provided, and a account of the student's performance is given to parents and the LEA (U.S. Department of Education, 2005).

Using Title I Funds

Ascher (2006) explains that although low-performing Title I schools lose command of where their Title I dollars are being spent for SES, they are still obligated to reach AYP levels. She suggests that, “despite four years of supplemental services and hundreds of millions of dollars spent on out-of-school tutoring, little is known about the effects of tutoring on student achievement which is the single goal of the federal SES program.” Ascher contends that “the nation's most fragile children deserve a better education than is generally available to them, it is hard to fathom that another few hours of disconnected English or math will meet that need” (Ascher, 2006, p. 140).

Ascher also points out that many “after-school programs had already begun to expand before NCLB as a result of the Clinton Administration's 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative. With about $2.6 billion of the $13 billion in Title I funds potentially usable for supplemental services, the NCLB requirement for SES has been a boon to the private tutoring industry” (2006, p. 137). Private companies, such as Sylvan, Kaplan, Educate, and Princeton Review, have had a history of providing educational services to families who could afford their programs. These and other companies have been quick to seek significant additional revenue opportunities by becoming state-approved to deliver federally funded SES.

In a 2006 report, the Center on Education Policy (CEP) found that “12 percent of all Title I districts--including more than 50,000 schools enrolling 12.5 million students--were required to offer supplemental services in 2005- 06, and 15 percent of students (1,875,000 students) in those districts were eligible to receive the extra support” (Ascher, 2006, p. 137). CEP also reported “that the average number of SES providers in districts had grown from an average of four providers in 2002-03 to twenty in 2004-05. States reported that as of August 2005, more than half of providers (54%) were for-profit entities, while 21% were nonprofit entities, and 9% were school districts” (Center on Education Policy, 2006, xii).

Criteria for Provider Approval

In a survey conducted in 2006, CEP found that the majority of states used five criteria developed by the Department of Education to review SES providers. The criteria include:

• A demonstrated record of effectiveness in increasing student achievement;

• Use of research-based strategies;

• Consistency with in-school instructional programs;

• Being financially stable; and

• Being compliant with federal, state and local health, safety and civil rights laws.

Although most states had used criteria mandated by NCLB to research and approve applications from eligible SES providers, there was great variation in policies. Providers in some states, for example, were required to reapply every year, while providers in other areas were never required to officially apply a second time ("States lack funds and staff," 2007).

Jack Jennings, CEP director, pointed out that forty-one states and about half (51%) of school districts reported that the greatest challenge to implementing SES was related to supervising the value and efficiency of SES providers. He concluded from the CEP studies that “states need more federal support to effectively carry out their duties in overseeing supplemental education service providers” ("Supplemental education services shortchanged," 2007).


The Supplemental Educational Services Quality Center (SESQ Center) was established with a grant from the U.S. Department of Education in 2003 to help families understand how to get extra-academic help for their children at no charge. “SESQ Center worked to increase the number of eligible children...

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