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Growth Spurt: The Rise of Tutoring in America

Students at a Kumon center, one of the most popular tutoring companies.
Margot Adler, NPR
Students at a Kumon center, one of the most popular tutoring companies.

Tutoring is a $4 billion business, and that figure is rising. It has become a staple of the middle class, with millions of students in both public and private schools using one-on-one tutors as well as supplementary education centers like Kaplan, Princeton Review, and Kumon.

Once an upper-class phenomenon, tutoring is now becoming so pervasive it is arguably changing the face of American education. While competitive pressures have never been greater for students, many educators say the change is also due to the No Child Left Behind law. The law, which requires schools identified as failing to provide tutoring, has proved to be a boon to the tutoring industry.

But the growth is also due to a general drive toward after-hours and supplemental academic help, analysts say. Early learning centers like Kumon and test-preparation services like Kaplan are opening facilities around the nation to meet the demand.

As more and more students are being educated, at least partly, with private funds, the United States is following a trend that has taken hold in Asia and is increasingly found in Europe: Parents are spending enormous amounts of money in addition to the costs of their children's public or private schooling.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Margot Adler died on July 28, 2014 at her home in New York City. She was 68 and had been battling cancer. Listen to NPR Correspondent David Folkenflik's retrospective on her life and career