Tutoring programs offering additional out-of-school instruction to students are drawing a growing number of clients in the US as parents continue to be concerned about the quality of their children's schools. The Denver Post reports that the number of franchises of companies like the Sylvan Learning Center, KidzArt and others is on the rise due to the $5-$7 billion spent annually on supplemental instruction nationwide.
The Education Industry Association, which published the findings, attributes the growth to increased competition for college admissions and merit scholarship dollars. With college tuition growing faster than inflation, many families likely consider investment in tutoring today to be more than offset by lower tuition bills down the road.
With the fees ranging between $25 and $75 per hour for tutoring sessions, the typical clients tend to be middle- and upper-class families with discretionary income. According to the owner of a Denver-area Sylvan Learning Center, targeting that demographic has helped her business ride out the recession.
"Even through a tough economy, the need is still there," she said. "I think there would have been a greater decline if the schools weren't having to make the cutbacks they had to make."
Area some schools have had to cut back in are art and music. Through partnerships with the school, franchises such as KidzArt and School of Rock have been able to grow.
"We like to spend more time delving into concepts and challenging the kids than schools can," said Amy Klein, owner of the Denver KidzArt that teaches mostly elementary-age kids art in recreation centers, classrooms and after school-programs.
As Tim Reece, the assistant general manager of Aurora's School of Rock explained to the Post's Adrian D. Garcia, tutoring companies are filling a need and offering services that parents feel schools are no longer able to provide. In additional to academic assistance, the companies also offer enrichment activities that public schools have had to sacrifice to meet tighter budget constraints.
The outlook for the private tutoring sector is positive, and the industry's growth potential could be even greater if they formed tighter relationships with local school districts.
The Sylvan Learning Center's vice president of franchise development, Scott Hurlock, expects the industry to continue to grow and emphasizes the need for strong partnerships between schools and education-supplement companies.
"When it becomes more apparent to the school systems that it's OK to reach the alternative solution, this industry will explode exponentially," Hurlock said.