Homework Help Business Grows, As Do Doubts

First there were private tutors helping Johnny or Jane with quadratic equations or spelling. Then for many years there was the Princeton Review and Kaplan doing high-end college test prep and more in little storefront operations. Next came school-based tutoring and academic enhancement programs, run by schools or contracted with private providers -- spurred in many cases by NCLB's tutoring requirement. Along the way, there was the old-school "Dial A Teacher" program, which relied on real live telphones of all things.

Now it's all going online, according to the NYT review of the latest trends in online homework help (If You Can Click a Mouse You Can Help on Homework). What's new is not so much that there's online homework help, offered commercially -- Brainfuse and Tutor.com are nothing new -- but rather than it's increasingly being offfered to individuals as well as schools or districts. AOL has also entered the fray. And, of course, some of the tutoring may be done from India. Not all the sites are useful, easy to use, and of course some cost money.

At the same time, there are a couple of new books out about how kids are getting too much homework that former US News education editor Ben Wildavsky reviews here. Wildavsky points out that concerns about homework -- just like concerns about oversized backpacks -- aren't new, and that the problem in most cases is lack of rigor. "...In the absence of more persuasive evidence that American kids are plagued by excessive, rather than insufficient, academic rigor -- homework included -- parents and policymakers should look elsewhere for a nuanced and reliable guide to this eminently worthy subject."


Blogger ithinkearthisheaven said...

great idea .

2:50 PM  

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