Grace Tsoi of The New York Times has a revealing article: In Hong Kong, the Tutor as Celebrity
To summarize, Tsoi writes that in Hong Kong tutoring companies sometimes make spurious claims about their tutors’ effectiveness, increase parents’ anxiety, and build up certain tutors with celebrity trappings to increase their profits.
New York City is no different.
Remember: cram schools and tutoring centers here make money when parents are anxious and believe that cramming can improve their children’s performance on standardized exams and in school. Certain tutors in New York are well known and can definitely be considered star tutors.
After 20 years in the education sector, I know that some unscrupulous NYC companies invent score improvement statistics. When I used to work at The Princeton Review, Princeton Review and Kaplan went to arbitration over statistics, and eventually agreed only to post numbers independently approved by an outside auditor. Smaller companies’ claims are not evaluated by anyone except those companies themselves. That’s not a recipe for honesty.
As with any other service, when purchasing tutoring, buyer beware.
With my educational consulting clients, I strive to work scrupulously, avoid unprovable claims, and only recommend trustworthy, effective tutors who can make a difference in students’ lives. Nobody should be tutored unless the work is productive and meaningful–childhood is too short.