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May 14, 2008

 

NYC Can Strengthen Its Efforts to Enroll Students
in Tutoring Program

DiNapoli: 36 Percent of Eligible Students Enroll in Federally Funded Program

The New York City Department of Education (DoE) should strengthen its efforts to promote a federally funded tutoring program available to low-income students in poor performing schools, according to an audit New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli released today.

“The Department of Education offers a number of extra-help programs to struggling, disadvantaged students, but it can do more,” DiNapoli said. “Efforts to make more parents and guardians aware of this program could help boost enrollment. We should do all that we can to make the best use of federal money. Every bit helps, and for some students, this extra tutoring might mean the difference between failure and success.”

The federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 called for underperforming schools to offer income-eligible students Supplemental Educational Services (SES), which include tutoring and remediation programs that are offered on weekends or during the week before or after regular school hours.

While the DoE does meet the program’s basic requirements to publicize the program, auditors found that additional improvements can be made. An audit survey of 45 schools showed that just 36 percent of eligible students were enrolled in a SES program. This is higher then some other states’ enrollment rates but further improvements can be made to enroll even more students.

The DiNapoli audit found that 81,347 of the 223,387 eligible students in 279 New York City public schools enrolled in SES during the 2005-06 school year. That year, the DoE received $76.6 million in federal funding to support SES enrollment, the audit found.

The DiNapoli audit found that enrollment rates among the 45 schools sampled varied, with one school enrolling a high of 99.8 percent of eligible students and a handful of schools enrolling no eligible students.

The audit team made several recommendations to improve public awareness, including:

  • Improve communications between all parties involved in the SES program and provide clear guidance regarding the selection of on-site program providers;
  • Enhance existing promotional efforts through less traditional forms of communication, such as posting guidance notices in neighborhood shops, restaurants, or places of worship;
  • Advise school officials to initiate contact with parents of eligible children sooner – during the end of the prior school year or in the summer, for example – and follow up with parents whose eligible children have not enrolled with telephone calls; and,
  • Develop and implement a system for formally evaluating the effectiveness of SES outreach efforts.

DoE officials agreed with eight of the audit recommendations, and have stated they are taking steps to implement such suggestions; the officials disagreed with three audit recommendations.

Click here for a copy of the audit and the DoE response.

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