Some people know how to teach a class.  Some people know how to teach kids.  Most folks that run tutoring centers are the later.

I spent the day at the Education Industry Association meeting in New Orleans.  About half the folks there were associated with Supplemental Educational Service providers or tutoring chains.  Some SES folks got a bad rap, some deserved it.  These are the good guys–the companies making a difference for kids that are struggling in schools.  They provide engaging tailored instructional services.  Some are piloting adaptive content, some incorporate the arts into active after school instruction, all of them work with high needs youth.

EIA members face an uncertain future–hard to tell how SES will be reshaped in reauthorization.  A few SES providers will start charter schools and participate in school improvement efforts to take advantage of ARRA grant programs.  What’s encouraging about spending a day with this group is that they are entrepreneurs committed to making a difference for kids–I think most of they will find ways to keep doing just that.

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Tom Vander Ark is author of Difference Making at the Heart of Learning, The Power of Place, Better Together, Smart Parents, Smart Cities and Getting Smart. He is co-founder of Getting Smart and serves on the boards of Education Board Partners, 4.0 Schools, Digital Learning Institute, Latinx Education Collaborative, Mastery Transcript Consortium and eduInnovation. Follow Tom on Twitter, @tvanderark.


  1. Your keynote and contribution to the conversation at EIA were excellent. It is so refreshing to hear a strong message about how essential a new, individualized model is for this country’s kids.


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