Supplemental Educational Services: Quick Reference for Parents

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An important feature of the No Child Left Behind Act provides that when a child from a low-income family is attending a low-performing school, federal money can be used to provide supplemental educational services for that child. The questions and answers below explain what these services are under the law and provide you with easy steps for getting your child the tutoring and extra help he or she needs as soon as possible.

What are supplemental educational services?

The term "supplemental educational services" refers to tutoring and other supplemental academic enrichment services, usually in reading, language arts or math. This extra help can be provided before or after school or on weekends.

How will I know if my child is eligible for supplemental educational services?

Your school district has established criteria based on family income. Often these criteria are the same as those for eligibility for free and reduced price lunches. If your family qualifies as low-income under your school district's criteria and your child's school is designated as needing improvement for the second year or is in corrective action or restructuring status, then your child is eligible.

Under the No Child Left Behind Act, school districts are required to tell you promptly if your child's school is in need of improvement. Your state is also required to publish a list of schools deemed to be in need of improvement.

If my child is in an eligible school, how can I begin to get help?

If your school has been identified for improvement for more than one year, your school district is required by law to provide you with a list of the state-approved providers offering supplemental educational services in your area. Nonprofit organizations, for-profit companies, and even local colleges, churches, synagogues, mosques and charities may have eligible programs in your neighborhood.

How do I choose a good program?

The law requires that providers offer high-quality, research-based instruction. Your school district is required to give you information about every available program in your area, including information about the providers, their qualifications and their effectiveness. Local school district officials will help you select a provider if you request their guidance.

How is the provider paid?

In most cases, your school district will pay for the supplemental educational services directly. Once you select a program or tutor, you will meet with the provider and district staff. You will each set specific academic goals for your child, determine how those goals will be measured and establish a deadline for when they will be achieved. Contact your child's school principal to find out how it works.

What if my child's school is listed as being in need of improvement for more than one year, but my district hasn't contacted me with a full list of my options?

You should contact your local and state school officials. The Department of Education's Web site provides a list of contacts for your state. Visit or call toll-free 1-800-USA-LEARN.

Additional information for community, parent or faith-based groups about No Child Left Behind is available by contacting the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs, Educational Partnerships and Family Involvement Unit. E-mail, or call (202) 401-0056.

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Last Modified: 09/11/2003