Posts Tagged ‘McTutor World’

The McTutor World is still expanding across the globe and now has a significant foothold in Canada, particularly in the metropolitan areas and fast-growing suburbs. Private tutoring is the “new normal” for urban families, continues to grow by leaps and bounds, and remains the fastest growing segment of Canadian K-12 education.

The tutoring business has bounced back from the blip of the 2008 economic meltdown and is stronger than ever, generating more than $1 billion in revenues a year. From 2010 to 2013, Kumon Math centre enrollment in Canada rose by 23% and is now averaging 5 % growth a year. One in three city parents in Toronto now hire private tutors for their kids and current estimates approach that proportion in Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal.

My September 4-5, 2014 CBC Radio Drive Home Show interviews focused on the trend and tackled the bigger question of why today’s parents were turning increasingly to after-school tutors to supplement the regular school program. A recent inquiry from Peter Stockland at Cardus Foundation prompted me to take another look to see what has changed over the past three years. That’s why I decided to revisit the whole question and update my research findings.

Over the past three years, the private tutoring explosion has continued, unabated, and the global market forecast to reach $102.8 billion by 2018 is now projected to be $227 billion by 2022.  A September 2016 world trends study by Global Industry Analysts attributed the current boom to three main factors: 1) growing pressure of students to achieve higher grades; 2) the rise of individualized, self-paced academic tutoring plans; and 3) the need to acquire competencies and new knowledge to compete in the global job market. E-learning and online programs are assuming a bigger and bigger share of the private tutoring business.

Six global trends in tutoring are now more visible right across Canada:

  • the rise of 24 x 7 private online tutoring;
  • increased focus on skill-based learning (reading, mathematics, and coding);
  • growing desire for academic excellence;
  • increase in education expenditures ( per pupil and as per cent of GDP);
  • the emergence of Age Inappropriate Learning (AIL), code for ‘reach ahead’ programs;
  • shortage of teachers for tutoring centres and colleges.

Private tutoring is now a global business. Eighty-five companies are active globally and five are dominant: JEI, Kaplan, Educomp Solutions, Kumon/Tutor Vista, and Daekyo Company.  The Asia Pacific countries, as might be expected, account for a 58.7 per cent share of the business.

We now inhabit an increasingly competitive global world. International student testing is one symptom and so are provincial testing programs — and parents are better informed than ever before on where students and schools rank in terms of student achievement.  While high school graduation rates are rising, student performance indicators are either flat-lined or declining, especially in Atlantic Canada. In most Canadian provinces, university educated parents also have higher expectations for their children and the entire public education system is geared more to university preparation than to employability skills.

System issues continue to influence parents who turn to tutors to address learning deficits in their children.   A “Success for All” philosophy and the new focus on “student wellbeing” rather than student achievement provide further inducements to enroll children and teens in foundational and accelerated tutorial programs after school and on weekends. A 2015 Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) survey showed more Ontario parents opting for private tutoring and, for the first time, that parents who identified as middle or upper class more likely to be using private tutors, giving their children a further advantage.

New elementary school curricula in Literacy and Mathematics compound the problem —and both “Discovery Math” and “Whole Language” reading approaches now face a groundswell of parental dissent, especially in Manitoba, Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario.  It’s no accident that the private tutors provide early reading instruction utilizing systematic phonics and most teach Math using traditional numbers based methods.

Canadian academic researchers Scott Davies and Janice Aurini identified the dramatic shift, starting in the mid-1990s, toward the franchising of private tutoring. Up until then, tutoring was mostly a “cottage industry” run in homes and local libraries, mainly serving high schoolers, and focusing on homework completion and test/exam preparation. With the entry of franchises like Sylvan Learning, Oxford Learning, and Kumon, tutoring evolved into private “learning centres” in cities and the affluent suburbs.  The new tutoring centres, typically compact 1,200 sq. ft spaces in shopping plazas, offered initial learning level assessments, study skills programs, Math skills instruction, career planning, and even high school and university admissions testing preparation.

The tutoring explosion is putting real pressure on today’s public schools. Operating from 8:30 am until 3:00 pm, with “bankers’ hours,” regular schools are doing their best to cope with the new demands and competition, in the form of virtual learning and after-hours tutoring programs.  Parents are expecting more and, like Netflicks, on demand!  A much broader public conversation about the future of traditional, bricks and mortar, limited hours schooling is now underway and will force school systems to look at more flexibility in defining and limiting school hours.

What explains the increasing growth of private tutoring?  Will the latest trend toward e-learning with online tutoring programs last? How will we insure that access to private tutors does not further deepen the educational inequities already present in Canada and the United States? Will the “Shadow Education” system expand to the point that public schools are eventually forced to respond to the competition?  


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