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Sylvan Learning Center Rips off Teachers

Carey, having a full-time teaching position with Millcreek School District this fall, began looking for summer work in mid April. After all, we've got a new house! Cash is good, in any form. One of the first places she looked was at the Sylvan Learning Center on Peach Street here in Erie.

Parents can send their children to Sylvan for the low low rate of about $40 per hour. Teachers are tasked with helping three to four students at a time, netting the center anywhere from $120 to $160. Teachers - who must be certified and pass Sylvan's own battery of tests - are then tasked with little more than helping students work on Sylvan-prepared worksheets.

How much are the teachers paid? Eight measly bucks an hour.

My recommendation is simple: if you have a child who is in need of tutoring, find a teacher who is good at what they do and offer them $15 to $25 per hour. You'll pay less and get your child individualized attention that likely fits better into your schedule.

I made more than $8/hour working at Boston Market in 1996.

625 Responses to "Sylvan Learning Center Rips off Teachers"

  1. Sylvan does a pretty good job of ripping off parents and students, too.

    About six years ago my parents had me spend a day being tested at Sylvan and while I aced everything they threw at me they decided that my parents had better keep paying them money because I had below average "study skills", a fact they probably arrived at from the one or two questions they asked about how much time I spent on homework a night.

    The whole thing was insulting, I didn't do the silly worksheets they gave me and I didn't want the silly rewards that they gave to the students who did.

    The entire system felt more like babysitting than tutoring. I got out after a couple of sessions.

    1. I can top all of you. Tuesday I called to schedule a make up session, at our local Sylvan Learning Center here in Jefferson City, Missouri for my son for this Saturday. I get there this morning and they have closed their doors, out of business, gone. I just pre-paid $4500.00 six weeks ago for his tutoring. Can you really expect me to believe that they didn't know they would be closing the facility six weeks ago, much less on Tuesday! When I got home I had a letter in the mail saying they were closing due to the economy and for those of us who had pre-paid they would be working on those reimbursements within the next 30 days. We'll see, can anyone say...law suit???

    2. I am very shocked to hear this. My son has been going to the Sylvan Learning Center in Balintyne NC and I can not say enough great things about them. Yes it does cost a good bit but no more than other places. They have payment plans to fit everyones needs and credit situations. I also must say that it is so unreal how much my son learned with them. He is 7 and his school wanted to hold him back in the 1st grade because he was on a K-reading level and his school teacher gave up on him and said he had a disability and could not learn like others, yet he was above level on all other areas (math, science, SS, and so on) he just could not read. I had the school test him for disabilities and he tested average and even above average on all areas for his age except the reading. As I said his teacher at school just gave up and did not even send homework home for him after last Dec. She had it in her mind he could not learn.He went to Sylvan for 4 months and learned more than he did his kind. and 1st grade year at public school. So the school just re-tested him for 2nd grade and was in shock that he not only passed the end of year standerds to pass the 1st grade but he was way a head in his 2nd grade standerds. He left school in June on a level 5/6 (this is what Kind. are reading on mid. year) now it's the first part of Aug. and when the school tested him he was on a level 18/19. That is a 2nd grader that has been in school a few months. Sylvan is a wounderful place and all the teachers at this location are happy, love their jobs, and are great teachers. Sylvan in this area pays well and keeps their teachers on for long periods of times. They are very competitive with there pay and it shows in their students learning!

    3. I worked for Sylvan for 8+ years as a teacher, Director of Education, Center Director and Dist. Education Manger. I also agree with the director above who states that you do need to keep in mind that this is a PT job--not a FT job. The teachers do not have the responsibility of making lesson plans, putting materials together, meeting with parents, assessing progress, etc. So, it is a little bit easier.

      However, there are 2 points that I would like to make:
      1. No, teachers don't go into teaching for money. BUT, it is insulting to always say that to them whenever the subject of money comes up. The don't teach for money, but they don't do it for free either. They deserve to have equitable pay. Bottom line is that if teaching were a profession dominated by men, the rate would be higher.
      2. Sylvan's "Labor Goal" (how much they spend on the salaries of all the employees at a location) is about 35-37%. THIS is the reason why no one gets paid what they are worth. Every other service industry has a labor goal of about 50%, but not Sylvan. They have very tight screws on this issue (if a corporate center--franchisees can make their own goals, but usually follow 'corporate best practices'). When I first started with Sylvan, it was about 42-46% for the labor goal (still low, but closer to industry average). Each year, it was brought down lower and lower. They would always have about 5-10 schools as an example on how this could be done. However, when you investigated the situation, you found that one of the directors had no children, or had a husband they didn't want to go home to, or had sacrificed their personal life and would burn out in less than a year because they had no work/life balance.

      The effect of these low labor goals is very simple. You have a Center Director and Director of Education who are both worn out (they have to work 50-65 hours per week to make this labor goal happen) and a staff that feels unappreciated. Lower labor goals also means more customer complaints. More customer complaints means more BS to deal with (with less labor to do it) and lower job satisfaction. The lower salary goals also mean you cannot pay a competitive salary and turnover is high. With high turnover comes more loss when you have to train a new employee.

      I do hate to hear that several parents were given one estimate and then the estimate increased. That is a potential problem. Test results are only one facet of a child's ability. When you begin instruction, you learn even more about the child. The estimates are given based on how long it takes the average child to complete each skill. But, if the child takes longer, then the # of hours estimated will go up. Parents should have some type of documentation on this at each parent conference (monthly). If you are a Sylvan parent, my #1 piece of advice to you is to always ask "How many more hours are you estimating for my child to complete the skills they have left." They should be RECALCULATING this each time--not simply taking the original estimate and subtracting the # of hours attended.

      And for those of you that like to nitpick: I did not spell check my response and I am not going to. I know there are a couple of spelling errors and grammar errors. I know I am an educator and I should hold myself to the higher standard of not making any mistakes (and expecting less pay for it too because "I love children" and that should be enough!). But those are your issues, not mine :)

    4. An important fact to keep in mind is that each Sylvan Learning Center is a FRANCHISE. This means that the quality may vary. Sylvan Corporate does check up on all the franchisees regularly, but this doesn't mean that some unscrupulous centers don't get away with cutting corners or sneaking in substandard practices. Sylvan's programs are excellent when done correctly at a good center. Visit your local center in person before agreeing to schedule testing for your student.
      Additionally, whoever said that some of the materials were copyrighted in the 60s is mistaken. The first copyright date of a book does not reflect the date of the most recent edition; please look again.
      Also, most Sylvan teachers are classroom teachers who work there because it's a rewarding and fun way to make some money on the side, not because they're lousy teachers who can't earn more than $8/hr.

    5. Actually Veronica, at the time most of these posts were written, Sylvan had about 1000 centers and 250 of them were corporately owned. The remaining 750 were franchised. So, if you attended a corporate center during that time, you probably had very consistent operations compared to another corporately owned centers. Franchisees do have to meet the QAR standards, but no one ever follows up with them. They are supposed to have a QAR every 2 years, but they do not have enough staff in that department to make that happen.

    6. If you have a student who tests on level for everything but reading, that student should be identified for a disability and should receive special education at no cost to the parent. This is neither pro or anti Sylvan. The school district receives funding to support students like yours (with the reading deficiency), and for a teacher and school district to just give up on the student is a lawsuit! Sounds like you need an advocate rather than a tutoring center, no matter how good the center is.

    7. I make $15.00/hr working for Sylvan in a very small town in N FL. The director and other teachers do care about the students.

  2. Hey, they have to pay for all of those TV commercials some how!

    1. how can you say law suit if they are paying you back with a refund. Maybe they had no clue 6 weeks ago that they would not have as many students as they have had in the past and that it would come to this. Times are hard on all businesses and be thankful your job has not shut down. You can't try to get more money back by a law suit if they return what you paid!! Greed will hurt you in the end. Just find another place to go for help, rellax and thank god this is the worst that is going on in your life.

  3. ...and the Google ads...

  4. Wow that is pretty bad. Are there regular increases in pay or some other benefits involved?

    1. It depends on the center. Often the pay is really low but they say it is based on experience. There are many times that it does work well for a students' needs. It just depends on who is overseeing the progress.

    2. My Friend, who is a dedicated professional, and always available when called upon at Sylvan, received a $0.09 per hour raise, to raise her base salary to 13.59 per hour... she has a masters degree and is certified. Many of the "teachers" there are not certified, and some list having a bachelor's degree on their profiles, when in fact they are still trying, sort of trying, to complete their degrees. A few of the teachers have failed out of at least one college...

  5. No.

    1. Skeptic, Mar and all the others with such ugly words. Calm down. I am a parent that put 1 hr a day in with my child and tried to pick up where the school did not, but it took the help I got from Sylvan to get my son where he needed to be. It is not always that the parent does not put in time with the child! Sometimes it takes a teacher that cares and wants to teach to get the childs attention and to help them. As far as spell check, get a life we all type fast like tangie and some times don't go back to check spelling. This is not a paper or report for school or work, it is a blog. Give a person a break! As far a syvan and their teacher pay. They are a business and like all businesses, the owners are in it for a profit!!!!!! They charge fees to cover payroll, tax, advertisment, learning materials, the reward items they give the children, insurance, and oh yea the owners want to get paid also. I am sure they have other cost we don't account for but again would you own a company just for fun and to waist time. NO, you would want to see a profit also!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. I was a classroom teacher. I found that my students had wonderful results at Sylvan Learning Center. I was so impressed by the communication that I received from the Sylvan director about the kinds of things my student my working on. You must remember, Sylvan uses a battery of tests to find out what skills are missing so that those skill gaps can be filled in. A classroom teacher does not have the tools to uncover skill gaps that happened 2 to 3 years before that student was ever in your class. I would highly recommend Sylvan to anyone. I later went on to work for Sylvan as the center director. Sylvan does not clears $150 or more on a table of students. The monthly cost to operate a Sylvan center is around $5000 to $10,000 per month. The Sylvan owners pay their own advertising, they have to buy all of the Sylvan materials, payroll etc... The cost to even open a sylvan franchise is around $200k and that doesn't include any build out cost that might be required to the building.

    My Sylvan teachers started out at $9.00 per hr and received a pay increase at the end of the 90 day probation period. They received bonuses for student growth etc and yearly raises.

    1. Tangie is secretly Sylvan Learning Center! What a terrible company.

    2. :shock: Might want to spell check your answer Tangie. Might want to get some tutoring scheduled for you, too!

    3. How much do you get paid to be a center director? assistant director?

    4. Oh, please.

      So you're a former teacher now owning a Sylvan Learning Center. This is a place where frustrated parents take their impossible children in the hope of helping them. My advice for parents is to drive right on past Sylvan and go on home.

      Sylvan is nothing more than a ripoff for parents and students alike.

      I'm a father of two excellent students who were not always excellent. The fact is that I spent many hours with each of them - teaching them the skills necessary to succeed.

      My suggestion to parents everywhere: Take time with your children - 30 minutes a day for reading, 30 minutes of unsupervised homework. Check the child's homework. Correct the homework. Reinforce the concepts being taught in school. Reteach if necessary. Your child doesn't need Sylvan - they need parental involvement.

    5. Sorry, but $9 an hour for an experienced, certified college graduate is an insult. If the teachers were any good at all, they could be earning $40 to $60 doing private one-on-one tutoring with word of mouth and personal references bringing in more new business than they could handle.

      No wonder there are so many bitter complaints on the net about the big national "learning" centers. You get what you pay for. And, if your bottom line dictates that you can only hire a $9 an hour, you deserve the poor results for your customers that you're going to get.

  7. $9 and hour! Darn. I'm glad I checked on those guys because they are contacting me to set up an interview. Just think of how much of these measily bucks will fly away to cover gas!

    1. :???:

      Joe said on February 19, 2009:

      Tangie is secretly Sylvan Learning Center! What a terrible company.

      I just read the poorly structured blog from Tangie...if this is an example of the skill set of the directors and teachers at this center; watch out.

    2. This really is a great place to get help for a child! The people that are mad seem to have miss placed anger. You should check out what some people say that had great out comes from sylvan. I know they helped my son a lot! All businesses are open to profit not just to be there for free!

  8. I just spent three hours "training" at Sylvan only to learn that my teaching degree and 5 years classroom experience would get me $9/hour. I'm going back to waitressing.

  9. I'm not surprised. With what I've read on this blog and what I experienced in my first interview, I've concluded that these jokers are educator wannabees. C'mon, 9 measily bucks for teaching? These people live on another planet.

  10. Our teachers start at 10.00 per hour; Algebra teachers start at $12.00. They have the privelege of just teaching and motivating these kids and watching them succeed. There are no long hours of grading papers, lesson plans, etc. They have an assistant to bring them materials or whatever they may need during the teaching hour. The students don't do "just Sylvan worksheets" as one poster put it. They complete from five to ten assignments per hour and the Sylvan prescriptions are researched-based--a lot of the research came from Johns Hopkins university; and each students program is very individualized, and the teacher motivates and guides the student according to what type of learner he or she is. During their initial diagnostic assessment, the student is identified as a visual, auditory or tactile learner.
    It's a program that works for the majority of the students. And I give my teachers all the snacks they can eat, and cokes for 25 cents--plus a dinner once a month and a drawing for giftcards!

    1. What Sylvan do you work at? My boss always tells us there is no money. Yet Sylvan receives $150 each hour I teach and yet gives me only $9. How is that fair? A free coke and snacks do not add up to the difference.

      It is disgusting that Sylvan treats its teachers so poorly. We pay great bucks to get our professional degree. Then we make less than someone who graduates from high school only. Terrible ethics.

    2. Oh wow. I guess I stand corrected.

      All the snacks they can eat? Wow. And soda for 25 cents?? Holy smokes!! I'm afraid to ask where the once a month dinner is. Burger King? But, remember to order from the dollar menu.

      Let me compare that to say, a houseman at the Marriott. Similar wage? Check. Masters degree? Oops, houseman doesn't have that. All the snacks you can eat? Check. Soda for a quarter? Nope, housemen drink soda for free in the employee cafe. Dinner once a month? Nope, houseman get dinner nightly in the employee cafe. Coffee? Sure, for the housemen. In charge of teaching our youth? Whoops...you got me there, Sylvan teacher.

      No long hours of grading papers (boo hoo), no lesson plans (fail to plan, plan to fail).

      I think the only thing these assistants need to bring the teachers during the teaching hour is extra money!

      What a farce.

    3. I just applied to Sylvan and $9-10 hr is about what I expected to make. Let's remember Sylvan is a private business and can pay their employees what they choose to - you don't have to work there - that is your choice. The question as a parent should be does it work - is my child getting the help he/she needs - is my child improving - not what are they paying the teachers. When I go out for a nice dinner I decide if it was worth it by the food and the service I received not what they are paying their employees - and some restaurants charge a lot but still only pay their employees minimum wage. Teaching positions are tight these days in some areas - at least where I live - more teachers willing to work for that wage the less they have to pay - supply and demand - if teachers refused to work for that wage they'd have to pay more - don't want to then go flip burgers for the same or less. Only became credentialed a year ago and with all the lay offs here getting a job has been impossible - competing with laid off teachers - so I substitute teach - I make $120 a day - which depending on the school and grade amounts to $15-18 hr - I get a 30-45 minute lunch - k-5 1 or 2 recesses; middle & high most teachers have a prep but I can be required to take over another class during that time - no breaks other than 3-7 passing periods - I choose to work

  11. I work at Sylvan as an English teacher. I was a math student at Sylvan after I had graduated from college in preparation for the GRE. I was missing math skills from second grade. They took me from 2nd grade math skills I was missing all the way through college math. The big difference was that if I didn't "get" something, they would teach it to me over and over again in a different way until I did get it. I scored 300 points higher on the math portion of the GRE after Sylvan. I don't have a problem with the pay. I believe in Sylvan.

  12. What is the average pay rate for the Sylvan Center Diretors? Im thinking about working for them and was wondering what was their average salary?

  13. I am the owner of a Sylvan Franchise, and would like to add that my employees, teachers and directors alike, are all making pretty good money. My full time staff salary starts at $30k + full health insurance + quarterly bonuses. That totals around $40k/year. Teachers start at $10/hour, with increases in pay every few months + bonuses. If this seems too low, please keep in mind that teachers work only part time (4-16 hours a week), have no preparation to do, homework to grade, or any other "teacher" duties. We are a family here, we love teaching and we love seeing students succeed. We provide supplementary education, and should be considered a supplementary job. And since when do teachers choose their profession for the money? If money is all that you are after, no, Sylvan may not be for you. If you want to make a difference in a student's life, come in and fill out an application.

    1. Hi Kari,
      A few fallacies in your argument/s I NEED to point out.
      "And since when do teachers choose their profession for the money? If money is all that you are after, no, Sylvan may not be for you. If you want to make a difference in a student's life, come in and fill out an application."
      1. "And since when do teachers choose their profession for the money?"
      Response: You are doing what YOU Do for money. We all do what we Do for money. Exception volunteer work at local non-for -profit organizations ... Sylvan is a for-profit Corporation. Why do you pay your employees?

      2. "If money is all that you are after, no, Sylvan may not be for you."
      This is a deliberate misinterpretation of the other "posters" comments/arguments. Money is not "all" we are after, teaching and assisting students is a chosen profession. What we are after is an equitable pay rate that matches/approaches professional pay scale.
      Money part is part of what we are "all" after ... garbage collectors make more money, businss owners make more money... waitesses make more money.

      3. Equity and fair pay is what we "all" want. Think about your argument thoroughly ... we did :wink: .

    2. I have been seriously considering opening a Sylvan Learning Center. I am presently an educator with over 12 years in the classroom along with previous 10 years military experience. I had previously worked for a center and believe in what it offers students. Having four school age children who are extremely successful in school, I believe this program has assisted in their educational development. If you would be kind enough to share any information before making this decision please assist. Thank you.

    3. Dear Kari,

      If Sylvan was a charity organization then it would be valid to say that Sylvan teachers should only teach for the love of teaching and not for money.

      But Sylvan is for anything but charity! It is a corporation!

      Sylvan sits 3 students at a table, having charged $50 each. So $150 per hour per table. It gives only $10-14 of it to the teacher. And I'm afraid you are not being truthful on giving a raise to any teacher. I might have had quit my job there too early, but my friends who worked there for two years had NO increase in pay, nor any bonuses either.

      And yes, teachers DO have to correct papers (called DPs at Sylvan) and practice sheets and also have to write reports on every student for each teaching hour. They don't have the time to do so during teaching so all of them have to stay after hours to finish their tasks. They have to come 15-30 minutes early to prepare for the day and if they don't, they get a phone call "you are 10 minutes away from starting the class, where are you?!"

      So, what you mean is, Sylvan is all for money and shame on any teacher who may want to pay their bills!

      Let's not forget, Sylvan is about tutoring, and only tutors do the main job, still they are the only ones who get ripped off!

      If you are a family (as you claim to be), then it is a very unhealthy and abusive one!!

    4. Well, Kari, i will have to disagree with you. I'm getting ready to leave Sylvan. I think $10/hour is insulting to a certified teacher. I can make more money tutoring via WyzAnt where I set my rate and receive 60% of that rate. I call the center I work for a "crooked center" because the owner is just that...a crook. People come and go at this center like there's a revolving door. The shame of it is that if the curriculum in schools were serving the needs of the students, there would be no need for Sylvan. I'm a dedicated teacher who genuinely wants to help students learn. I have valuable skills that Sylvan basically takes advantage of. Can't wait to leave.

  14. Recently I enrolled two students at the local Sylvan center. Sadly, these kids are in a real crisis situation and need expert one on one tutoring. They must make up years of gaps in the education provided by the Mesa AZ school system. I was led to believe that Sylvan would provide that tutoring in a individualized, comfortable atmosphere. At no time did any of the personnel tell me that one tutor has at least 3 students at a time, that the classrooms were actually one room that was noisy and distracting, and that Sylvan would be assessing the kids progress based on tests I couldn't review as they had been taken originally. (Sylvan uses a bubble test and claims copywrite infringement if they were provide a copy to me) So far, the kids have been given worksheets to fill out and absolutely no individualized help. I should have known something was not right with the center when the emails they sent me had words spelled wrong and grammar errors. They estimate almost $50K in tutoring hours are required for these two kids. If, after 36 hours of tutoring, an improvement of one grade level is not achieved, they will provide 12 hours of free tutoring. Basically, they are grading themselves and don't allow you to have a baseline to assess developement, or achievements by the students,and therefore Sylvan as well. The first 100 hours have been paid for, the remaining funds will go to an in home tutor that will help these kids. It would take a lot to convince me that Sylvan is anything more than just a business with the almighty dollar the real goal. That is the lesson they provided, a lesson I will never forget.

    1. Amen Sister. That is all they care about. They lie and do anything to get more money. What a sad situation.

    2. Please go up to the top of this page and read my story about my son. He had 3 others at his table but the teacher was able to teach him and the others and give him 1 on 1 when needed. He got all the help he needed and more. Just think school teachers have more than this and do their jobs and no one thinks that is bad. If you want complete one on one you have to pay for it.

  15. As a former center director of Sylvan I am amazed at the comments from the teachers. Let's assume you make $8.00 per hour for your teaching 3 Sylvan students, proportionally what would you receive for the 24-30 you teach at your full-time job? $8.00 times 8 times as many students would be $64.00 and nine times $72.00 and if you taught 30 like I did in public high school math $80.00. Now lets do a little more math at the lower figure $64.00 times 40 hours the minimum any teacher I know puts in that is 2560.00 per week and teachers work 39 weeks per year, assuming no pay for vacations. So with the $99,840 you are apparently making at your regular job, why are you working part-time anyway?
    My teachers started at $9.00 per hour in 2004 they received a fifty cents raise after 90 days and an additional quarter for each subject they taught, they also got a raise at 6 months and 12 months. Additionally each teacher got cash bonuses that totaled about $250.00 per year (tax Free). Most of our teachers were making 10.50 an hour in a small town. The average pay for a part-time job was around $7.25 per hour.
    Furthermore I would like to remind the teachers that seeing the light in a child's eye should be the reason you teach. My teachers often remarked that they loved coming to Sylvan because it gave them the opportunity to experience real success with a child. In a time of overcrowded classrooms, violence in schools and children as parents many classrooms have become glorified daycares where the teacher spends more time breaking up fights and doing weapon checks than teaching. I would tell all my parents that you can take a mediocre teacher and give them only three students and there performance will sky rocket, but with an exceptional teacher their growth will be limitless and the exceptional teachers are the ones we want. I couldn't sell it if I didn't believe it and see it on a daily basis. Sylvan works and the teachers that we want are the ones that love to teach and take pride in seeing their students succeed.
    Lastly I would remind teachers and parents that Sylvan is a supplemental educational service provider, we supplement because someone failed. We do not go into the community and tap students with a magic wand that places them 2,3 and 4 years behind grade level, that is a result of over-crowded schools, poor instruction and classroom management (in some cases), teachers retiring while still on the job (you educators know what I mean), parents not sending children to school prepared and not supporting the good teachers the students have, administrators telling teachers students have a right to sleep in class, administrators not supporting teachers, and low salaries being paid such that good teachers are driven to other fields. I would love to see Sylvan learning center out of business because their was no need for supplemental services, I would love to see my tax dollars be sufficient to see that my child is properly educated, but that is not the reality today, and until it is I know the 142 students that have succeeded as a result of my meeting with their parents and outlining an individualized learning prescription, my Director of Education assigning the specific skills to overcome those deficits and the very best of TEACHERS giving quality instruction, would ask that we keep doing what we do. I would further encourage you all to visit a Sylvan talk to the parents, students, and teachers they will give you their honest feedback and you too will become a believer.

    1. As a "highly qualified" teacher (Masters +) I resent hearing "we do it to see the light go off, not for the money". I am sorry, but I have worked hard, both academically and professionally, to achieve what I have done. I have as much education as a lawyer- yet make 1/2 as much. I am a human being, with a family, and a mortgage. I believe everyone should pursue a profession they enjoy, but shouldn't we be paid based on our credentials?
      It is an argument that particularly annoys me. It is an obvious statement that our society under-values education, and our children as the future.

    2. "I would tell all my parents that you can take a mediocre teacher and give them only three students and there performance will sky rocket, but with an exceptional teacher their growth will be limitless and the exceptional teachers are the ones we want."

      This is from a Sylvan Center Director. I think the run-on sentence speaks for itself, as does the unfortunate, incorrect use of the term "there", which should have been "their".

      Also, might I suggest a brief review on the use of paragraphs?

      I would not want my child learning from you or your Sylvan employees.

    3. This is a very good way to look at this situation. Also the lady birdie nest on here needs to realize lawyers and so on make more money because they have longer hours, harder jobs, more research, and just in general harder jobs. They have to stay up todate on the law and so on. You know a lawyers job is harder. Look at it this way, teachers make more than police officer's. Are there jobs meaning less. teachers have great hours, holiday pay, 2 weeks off at christmas, a week or so off at spring break, paid summer vacation, insurance, 4o1k, oh yea, don't forget the sick and personal days off with pay. Sounds pretty good to me!!!! I will take the $30,000 to $40,000 (and some make more) pay that SC pays a teacher along with all that time off!!!!!! I don' think lawyers get that!

    4. You presented a lot of math that, when all is said and done, proves that teachers in the public system are underpaid - something I thought everyone agreed on.

      How would the Sylvan parents feel if they knew that the teacher of their struggling child was only being paid $3 per hour per child, leaving $37 per hour of their fee going God knows where?

      I know how furious and ripped off I would feel.

  16. In the fourth grade our class was reading James and the Giant Peach. A whole quarter I think. We had a work packet to complete, place into our reading folder at the end of each chapter, to be turned in at the end of the book. I never got past page three. Never did the work, never turned in the folder, but I passed fourth grade reading..... my folder must have been lost, we all said. Really, maybe my teacher had a lot of students. I was lost in the crowd, my problem never identified. Most asked for help when needed. I did not. That was just the begining. I barely passed seventh grade pre algebra, eighth grade algebra, failed ninth grade english. B.S.'d my way through yearbook. By my senior year I was still enrolled in advanced classes, but skipped school nearly every day. My teachers and parents just thought I was lazy, and that I didn't care. Truth is, I did! I cared alot! Despite my wonderful teachers, I was rarely able to complete an assignment, not able to learn. I am so glad to know that there is a program like Sylvan that helps to identify the needs of individual children and helps them to succeed in thier studies! Had I been so lucky to have had that extra giudence back in the fourth grade, school might not have been such a challenge. I give thanks to the teachers that care enough to give thier extra time to children in need of a more individualized learning program.

  17. I have taught at Sylvan for over a year and currently make 10/hr. It is a wonderful place to teach and really make a difference in a child's life. Many of the children that come to Sylvan need much more than than just tutoring. Lots of these children suffer from poor self-esteen and other problems. Sylvan offers a safe haven for these students to learn. So, if your primary goal is not to help a child succeed, but only to make an extra dollar for yourself then please, please don't even consider working there.

    1. If you really just care about the children and their families, then why not just offer free counseling/tutoring at the school after hours. Many families cannot afford to shell out $40+ an hour to send their child(ren) to sylvan.

  18. I was wondering if anyone ever gets their money back from the Sylvan money back guarantee. If so how? My son went there March, April, May, June, July, and August of 2005 because he was doing so badly coming out of the second grade and going into the third. He did two hundred something hours of Math and two hundred something of Reading. We spend so much money to help him catch up to his peers. When he went to third we couldn't afford the huge bill so he saw a school tutor all throughout the third grade. He passed by the skin of his teeth. 240 of the End of Grade testing is to pass to the next grade and he scored a 241. This year he is sunk without hope and we still can't even pay off the first Sylvan bill. How can we get our money back because he clearly never caught up to his peers like they said he was.

    1. Make sure that something is not getting in the way of his learning. With all of these interventions he should have shown improvement.
      Take him to your doctor and have an evaluation done

      dyslexia??

  19. Coolidge and Tangie, what's it like to be a center director? Were you able to produce your own marketing strategies and increase enrollment? How much were you paid? It sounds like an interesting job.

  20. First, most of the response are sad and representative of where the mindset is with our society. Sylvan, nor any other business for that matter owes its teachers or staff any more than the going wage. If solid teachers with verifiable backgrounds are willing to work for 9-$10. 00 per hour then thats the market.

    With that being said, stop complaining and do something about it. Most, went into to teaching knowing full well that it pays below average. Most often, teachers have quite a few other benefits that many do not have. It appears most responding to this blog don't have a clue as to what potential costs go into running a business. If Sylvan earns $120.00-$140 per hour are you really that neive to believe thats 100% net income?

    Use your math and college degrees and figuire it out!

    1. Teachers really need to step back and look at the overall job market.
      I've worked as a Probation Officer w/adult convicted felons for 24 years and my pay last year was not much more than a first year teacher's salary! I have spent the last two and a half years working on a MEd and if/when I start teaching I won't even take a pay cut!

      I'll put my 400+ adult felons up against your 35 children and we'll see who has the most stressful job! You have the opportunity to make a difference....I'm dealing with the fall out of kids YOU pushed through school because they were difficult, ADHD, Learning disabled or just stubborn!

      I'm gladly paying Sylvan to help my ADHD/ODD, Dyslexic/Dysgraphic child learn the concepts she has missed since 5th grade because she had a teacher who had retired but didn't have the good graces to stop showing up to work everyday! This is a child with an IQ of 140 who has been in "gifted ed" for the past 8 years and now suddenly she has teachers who tell me she is behind grade level in math (ok, not her best subject) and Language Arts (she reads at COLLEGE FRESHMAN level!)

      Anyone like to take a crack at how THAT happened!?!

      Teacher's should have to do their student teaching during their FRESHMAN year so they will know what they are getting into BEFORE they've invested their entire college career in something that they are going to hate and be miserable doing!! The children they "teach" are the ones who will suffer and it will be far more than YOU do!

      And while I'm on this roll, if you were the head cheer leader or the captian of the football team and you want to relive your "Glory Days" GO DO IT SOMEWHERE ELSE!! And if you were the geeky kid that got picked on, don't go back to school as a teacher to seek your revenge on the children of your tormentors! GROW UP AND GET OVER IT!!

      To the teachers out there who actually CARE about the kids they teach and didn't go into teaching for the "Summer Off" Thank you!
      My differently abled child has struggled her entire academic career because of "those other teachers" but she did have a Resource teacher who helped her survive elementary school...now she says she wants to teach Sp Ed so she can help other kids like her...and by the way....she may have purple hair, black nail polish and some funky piercings in her ears...but she's the kid that will stand up and defend the kid that is intimidated by miserable teachers, she's the kid that will give her lunch to the quiet kid whose parents don't care enough to fill out the free lunch application and she's the kid that talks to her friends about the dangers of drugs and alcohol because she loves them.....

      By the way, just and FYI....when you tell a kid that your not afraid of them.....you just proved that you really are....I'm proud of my "seen", "difficult" and "stubborn" child. Lousey teachers made her miserable, but it's also made her tough as nails and has given her a mission....she exposes classroom injustice, prejudice and discrimination at the top of her lungs every chance she gets!

    2. Well said.

  21. I thought I would add that if you look at Sylvan's annual report they only make a 13% net after tax margin on the services they deliver after expenses. Those retail locations costs lots of money. Sure they aren't paying teachers enough, but after there operations costs they aren't making that much either. They offer a convenient service that works that parents are willing to pay for. I support teachers but you have to look at the fundementals of their business, and labor costs are only a piece of that story. Most people don't realize a Sylvan facility averages 3,000 sq. ft. and that space rents for up to 24 a sq. ft. per year. That's $72k just for the business. Then account for workmans comp inurance and 8% social security tax on top of the wage there paying teachers. It adds up.

  22. Virtually everyone here is missing the point I personally hoped would get through. It's really very simple.

    If you're a parent and your kid is behind, don't send them to Sylvan. You'll get far better results by paying a tutor $15-25/hour.

    Sylvan charges parents entirely too much, gives your child little to no personalized instruction, and doesn't have quality teachers due to the small hourly wages they can afford to pay.

    1. I got on the internet agreeing wholeheartedly with what Erik is saying - that parents would be better off hiring a private tutor than sending a child to Sylvan.

      MAINLY I WAS HOPING TO FIND OUT HOW MUCH SYLVAN CHARGES PER HOUR AND HOW MANY HOURS IT FORCES PARENTS TO CONTRACT FOR.

      I've tutored privately for 30 years- starting when I was taking a break from teaching to stay home with my young children. I always hired a babysitter whether I tutored at home or at the students' home. I wanted to make sure that the hour I was charging for would be absolutely uninterrupted. I never answered the phone during a session, always had materials ready beforehand, etc.

      At that time I was tutoring for a service that was mostly advertised by word of mouth. In around 1978 I was charging about $15, with 10% going to the owner of the service. Gradually, over the next ten years or so, the rate went up to $25.

      By that time I was a single mom and was tutoring after school and during the summers. I also worked for a private accredited summer school program for learning disabled students. For that I only received $9 and hour, but I learned more than I had getting my bachelor's degree and picked up tutoring students for the entire year(s) for which I charged $25-$30 per hour. One of those students I tutored through the last two years of high school. The final December before graduation I billed her parents $1600. They were thrilled I pulled her out because she had multiple learning and psychological problems.

      Referrals continued coming from the two sources mentioned above, but also started coming from parents of students and former students until I became ill and had to stop for a few years. I moved away for a while and foolishly didn't secure my phone number so I lost my referral lines, and I'm virtually starting over.

      Because of this, I did work for Sylvan for about three weeks. I was not impressed. When observing during the first week there, I noticed that there was always one child waiting to have his/her work checked. Wasted time.

      There were three-four students at a time with a teacher. They were different ages, working on different levels and on different subjects. I saw virtually no instruction going on and was told to have a student go on to the next worksheet even if s/he had missed every question on the activity s/he'd just finished.

      It bothers me that there are several tables in a room, several students at each table. That's a lot of movement and a lot of noise for children who are having learning problems.

      There was an employee who "pulled" workbooks and worksheets for each student based upon what skills the child was working on and what he'd accomplished the last session, but some of the workbooks and worksheets were copyrighted in 1963. That was pointed out to me by one very gifted high school math student who was trying to bring up his verbal score for the SAT.

      Language arts curriculum written in 1963 is often what we would consider sexist now and so out-of-date that students don't understand the cultural references (i. e. measles, switchboard operators, carbon copies, etc.).

      I gave the math whiz some pointers in reading comprehension, and he gushed with gratitude.

      Students are not allowed to write in the workbooks, but write on plastic sheets placed over the work pages with markers, often making it very hard for the students and teachers to read.

      One would think that Sylvan could afford to make xeroxed copies, but, even with individual worksheets, they have to write numbers and answers in spiral notebooks.

      One of Sylvan's best marketing tools is the "point system" of giving out toys at the end of the session. That puts big smiles on the kids' faces as they're walking out to their waiting parents. Makes it look like the kids have just loved the whole hours' learning experience.

      WHAT IS A REASONABLE RATE FOR TEACHERS TO CHARGE?

      I live in Texas - 35th in salary ratings. The last time I taught was 1997, and I think I was making about $36,000. Divided by 183 days of teaching (and teachers do get paid by the day) that comes to $196 per day. I knew that number well because that's how much was deducted from my paycheck for every day I was absent after I ran out of sick days. Granted we work more than the 7 1/2 hours we work when at school, but $196 divided by 7.5 is $26 an hour.

      I was paid that tutoring long before I actually made that teaching. Often I did just "help kids with homework," teaching along the way. I was scared to death in the late 70s when I began tutoring wealthy private school kids whose parents couldn't be bothered to deal with homework. I had no teacher's manual, didn't know if I was getting the real story re assignments, often had "surprise" book reports, etc.

      In other words, I had to adjust to that child's needs with a flexibility a storefront tutoring service could never match. Sounds so easy - homework assistance. But it isn't.

      In the summers I did/do often have to pull curriculum together. I admit I am not a diagnostician, but it usually doesn't take long to hit upon an area you know needs work even if you have no communication with the student's teachers. Luckily, you usually do.

      I noticed a few years ago that one of the "grocery store" magazines recommended Sylvan summer help for struggling students. The next year it recommended finding a retired teacher. I figured they must have heard from disgruntled readers.

      I tutor one-on-one, and it's wonderful to see the progress that can be made that way. I have never required any contract before other than asking to be notified four hours in advance in case of a cancellation. I am now rethinking that and will require a month-to-month contract.

      Teachers, we are underappreciated and undervalued. Tutor for the storefront services if you want, but you might want to think of doing that as a stepping stone to private tutoring. Get cards made. Advertise your services in inexpensive ways - Craig's list for one. Keep notes and contact information for a tutoring resume.

      Remember to keep good financial records of both your expenses (including mileage) and your income. You will need to declare private tutoring as self-employment on your income taxes. The expenses - mileage, pencils, workbooks, etc. will be deductions.

      When I've told parents of young children what Sylvan pays, they are horrified. They know what their friends have paid to send their children to the storefront tutoring services.

      Sylvan's biggest overhead is advertising, advertising, advertising. I use 800-free-411 a lot. They have the system down so well that if they're advertising on free 411 that day, they don't give you the 1-800 number, but rather the local number that is closest to you. How do they do that? I don't know, but I do know it must cost a bundle.

    2. I wasn't going to comment, but this has me completely baffled. I am a Sylvan Director and I know for a fact that my teachers, as well as myself are 100% dedicated to all of our student's success! A private tutor may be good, but is not equipped with a full diagnostic assessment to see where the student has gaps in the past, and the resources to fill in these gaps. You must have had a bad experience in the past and are bitter. Sorry! I wish you would come in and talk to a Director to see what Sylvan is really about.

      We are all there not for the money, but because we love what we do, and are all good at what we do. I have fabulous teachers who work for $!0 per hour who I wouldn't trade for the world! They have changed many lives for the better, and I think you need to get more information before you make harsh judgments on people who are doing such a good thing for children.

    3. Perhaps you should check your facts before commenting. Sylvan offers only personalized instruction. I am currently a director at a center and watch hundreds of kids reach success in my center, after "individual" instruction from a private tutor fails. Those teachers do not have the resources to provide success. As for profit margin- Sylvan makes less than 13%. For those of you who don't like the pay- don't work there. If pay is what your looking for- get out of my profession. I want my child to have a teacher who cares. That's what Sylvan provides. All of the comments against Sylvan on this page are from obvious ignorance.

  23. I am a hard working single Mom. The school advised me to sign up for this sylvan program.. Sooo, I have just enrolled my daughter in sylvans center. It cost me $250.00 for a 4 hour test , $ 50.00 for a enrollment fee and then I was told that my daughter needed to come 4 times a week at $42.00 per hour... (( WHAT ))? This is tapping me out!! MY QUESTION IS : Does the school get a kick backs $$$ for recommending them to parents?? I went to the office and explained I can not aford to drop all this money and they made me feel like a really bad mom for not wanting the best for my daughter.. I have spend alot of money so far $1, 140.00 ( this is for only a month).

    1. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX!

      Sylvan does market to schools. Most of them should not and do not openly recommend them specifically.

      It makes me want to CRY to think that a well-meaning parent is being "guilted" into spending such a huge portion of her budget on tutoring--especially in advance.

      Four sessions per week is most unusual. It's more than most young children can handle, in my opinion, on top of school hours and homework.

      There are alternatives you might consider.

      Most universities can either do diagnostic testing through their education departments or guide you toward nonprofit organizations that do all sorts of testing - intelligence, auditory, academic, etc., etc. on a sliding scale. Either can probably guide you toward an appropriate tutor.

      There are many after-school programs forming around the country. Many of these are free, and many have tutors. Check into those and talk to the tutor to see what training s/he has and how much time s/he might have to work with your child. Sometimes the tutor does have extra time to work with students who want to "stick around."

      For private tutors you might start with special education departments of universities. Sometimes graduate students do tutoring.

      Retired teachers often tutor. There are probably retired educators' associations in your communities. This is probably where you'll get the best bang for your buck. (And, yes, I am a retired teacher.)

      You might ask for names of tutors from physicians, pastors, community leaders, etc. You could look on Craig's list under the education section.

      Ask for references. Try to find someone who's tutored before. Even with an experienced tutor who's a certified, long-term teacher, you'll pay less than Sylvan charges.

      And don't be afraid to ask to BARTER. I've offered many times to tutor an hour for an hour of housecleaning - either for tutoring a child or for teaching an adult non-reader or non-English speaker to learn English. I've never had a taker.

      Since I live alone, I'd also gladly tutor an hour for a home-cooked meal. How much harder would it be to cook for one more person if you're cooking for a family? I color my own hair--not very well. Would love for someone else to apply the color.

      Walk a dog, babysit, cater a party, run a carpool, give a pedicure. BE CREATIVE.

      I even tutored a student whose mother tutored mine.

      Almost everyone has a skill to barter. Perhaps you and a member of your family could go together to barter two or three services.

      THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX. That's what I call "S," one of the "big box" tutoring services.

    2. Hi there Sigh.

      I am an editor at SmartMoney magazine, doing a story on the tutoring industry, and I saw your post about Sylvan. I'm interested in letting parents know the pros and cons of different tutoring choices, and your perspective would be extremely useful to our readers who may see the ads and get the sales pitch, but not know how some of the more poorly-run centers can work. Any chance you'd be willing to chat with me for the story?

      I'm on deadline for early next week (Feb 22). Please contact me before that if you're game! [missy.sullivan@dowjones.com] Thanks!!

  24. I am interested in being a Center Director. Can anyone give me advise on the pay scale as well as growth opportunities? Someone asked the same questions earlier and there wasn't a reply.

  25. Erik's point is a ridiculous one. $15.00-$25.00 per hour would barely cover the cost of supplimental materials needed fro your child to work on. Or is he ploanning on getting extra materials from school, they frowned on that kind of thinkg when I was teaching, except for YOUR STUDENTS of course. People drive mMercedes because of the quality they bring and yes they cost a little more Sylvan is the mercedes of supplimental education. We hire the best teachers and they provide the best service to your child.

    Those interested in the center director position it is quite challenging and rewarding. Pay will typically be a base salary bonus. The ability to market depends on who owns the center, most owners are hands off and want you to take the ball and run with it. With this kind of franchisee you would be in heaven, still some are control freaks and can't let you truly run the business this makes it tough. Most franchisees want you to run the business and succeed, I suggest you stop by a Sylvan one day and chat with the CD. I really loved this job.

    1. Hahahahaha, absurd. I've seen all Sylvan's "supplimentary" :P material. I could tutor a kid in math with my fat, Gruber's SAT book for 25/hr better than a regiment of Sylvan teachers with every textbook, "manipulative" <- what a joke, toy, token and juice box in existence.

      What is Sylvan? Sylvan is boxed, one-size-fits-all education.

      There are two types of students, those who care and those who don't. Sylvan gets 75% students who don't give a crap. The ones that do could be tutored with a white board and one half-dry marker.

      Mercedes, don't make me gag. 42/hr....boy, that sure helps provide opportunities to those 9-5 parents struggling to put food on the table. Yea...sure...Sylvan cares...

      Erik has it exactly right.

  26. Coolidge said on November 28, 2006:

    Erik's point is a ridiculous one. $15.00-$25.00 per hour would barely cover the cost of supplimental materials needed fro your child to work on.

    Children being taught by their own teachers wouldn't need supplemental material - they'd be working on the stuff they're learning in school and using their own textbooks. Students are allowed to take their textbooks home. Some even have one book at school and one at home. There is no "extra" material.

    Coolidge said on November 28, 2006:

    People drive Mercedes because of the quality they bring and yes they cost a little more Sylvan is the mercedes of supplimental education. We hire the best teachers and they provide the best service to your child.

    At $8 to $10 to maybe $15/hour, you do not hire the best teachers. You're kidding yourself if you believe otherwise. You hire teachers who want to work a little over the summer or you hire teachers who couldn't get jobs elsewhere. Some Wal-Mart employees make more than Sylvan "teachers" do.

    The simple fact of the matter is that spending money on Sylvan is nearly as beneficial to your child as flushing money down the drain. Children receive little to no individualized attention, spend most of their time doing worksheets, and benefit only from actually being made to do work, not by learning things relative to what they're doing in school at the moment.

    1. Totally agree. Worked at Sylvan for about 3 weeks.

      Am wondering - What do the parents pay? For how long do they have to contract?

      I know it's tons more than the $10-11 the teachers get paid.

      I've tutored off and on for 30 years, but have moved and am just getting started again. Have charged $25 -$30 since the late 80s and 90s. After a while off, I'm told the minimum should be $40.

      Amazing the results of one-on-one tutoring. I've never required a contract other than asking the parents to notify me within 4 hours if they're going to need to cancel the session.

      I did work for Sylvan about 3 weeks and was appalled at the lack of instruction, having 3-4 students at each table of different ages, different ability levels, working on different subjects, the number of tables in the room. Lots of noise and movement for children who are having learning problems.

      Old, old workbooks and worksheets which cannot be written on, but answered either in spiral notebooks or with markers on plastic sheets paper-clipped over workbooks.

      Was told to have students to do activity, check, have him do the next activity - even if he'd missed every question on the page.

      Best marketing gimmick--point system that allows kids to buy "toys," junk, etc. at the end of the hour. Sends students to the cars with big smiles on their faces.

      Biggest overhead--advertising, advertising, advertising. If they're advertising on 1-800-free-411, they don't give you the 1-800 number, but rather the number of the center closest to you. How do they do that? I don't know, but I do know it must be very, very expensive.

    2. HOW MUCH DOES SYLVAN CHARGE? HOW MANY SESSIONS TO YOU HAVE TO SIGN UP FOR?

      I worked there for about three weeks and was not impressed with their system.

      Have tutored privately for a loooooooooong time but have moved and am starting over. Have charged much more than the $11 an hour I got at Sylvan since the late 70s.

    3. Absolutely 100% not true! Not at all. Have you ever visited a Sylvan, talked with the teachers or Directors there? They are caring, loving people who want to see the children succeed! And every student gets individualized attention. Are you making things up just to try to cause chaos? Or to mislead parents who need help?

  27. I work at a learning centre similiar to Sylvan. I have worked there almost four years, and have not had a raise in three and a half years. What many have said here is true. The teacher shortage is long over. I cannot get a job other than supply teaching. I work at the learning centre for experience and money...not GOOD money. However, learning centres want the benefit of being able to say they employ"certified teachers". However, the teachers don't benefit at all financially. For every two hours I work, I spend at least 15 minutes before teaching reviewing materials, making photocopies etc. Then I stay after the lesson at least a half hour marking, writing comments, reading/marking essays,talking to parents, putting books away etc. I am not paid for this extra time. Apparently, I am supposed to do this DURING the hour I am with my students. If I actually did this, I wouldn't have time to even talk to my students,answer their questions or mark their work. I would simply be a paper pusher...and THAT is what my pay is based on. I love teaching, I care about my students. I just can bring myself to do a half-assed job reflective of my pay. Yup, I am being taken advantage of...but I have no one to blame but myself. Many learning centres rely on a teacher's desire to go above and beyond for free.

    1. why don't you name the learning center you worked it since everyone else is naming Sylvan??????

  28. I am reading these posts and amazed at the comments some of you leave. Coolidge, I agree with every comment you made, I am a Center Director at a Sylvan and love my job! I love to see what being at Sylvan for 6 months can do for a child's self esteem and how confidence can soar! Our teachers start at $13/hr and can raise that to well above $16 over time, so I'm not sure where you all are coming from. Our teachers love what they do and love working for Sylvan because they see the difference. As for paying your classroom teacher $15/hr., perhaps you should think about WHY your child isn't getting what he or she needs from that teacher all day....how would a few extra hours help her? Plus, we go back and find the holes and missing pieces and fill those in and then the student can feel successful. That's the reason for the test. And, the program is completely individualized, but the reason for 3 students is so the child can also learn to work independently after skills are learned. After all, the classroom isn't exactly 1:1 is it?

    I'd like to see some of you who criticize Sylvan actually go there and "feel" what is happening during instruction....students who want to learn and teachers who love teaching. No amount of money can match any of that.
    Amen.

    1. When Sylvan assessed my child the test results were dead on target with where she began struggling....5th grade....that teacher is now selling real estate....but because my daughter was "difficult", by educator's standards, she spent most of her 5th grade math class sitting in the hall!! Consequently, she does not have the concepts she needs now in 8th grade. I just wish that woman had started selling real estate before she ever set foot in a classroom!

      If I have to pay $50 a month for the rest of my natural life, I will if that's what it takes to help her fill in the gaps for what she did not get from public school. The Sylvan Director we work with is at that center 12-14 hours a day 7 days a week! I believe she would stay till midnight if a child needed her help....she is that passionate about teaching children...and homework help is FREE for enrolled students....my child is there for homework help twice as much as she is for Math essentials....and they help her with ANY subject that she's working on at the moment, not just the Math that I'm paying for! My high schooler took a practice SAT test this week, also FREE! So far, I'm very satisfied with what I'm getting for the money I'm paying.

      After her first Sylvan session my "avoid homework like the plague, throw a fit, start a fight, do anything you can to keep from doing it" child ASKED to go back the next day....on SATURDAY, no less! I have not had to fight with her to get her to go, she comes out smiling because she actually "got it" for the first time!!

      PUT A PRICE TAG ON THAT!

  29. seems Sylvan's cd's and teacher's aren't really on the same page as far as pay scale goes.

  30. Some of you have mentioned that tutoring places like Sylvan must not have quality teachers because only the 'poor quality' teachers would accept the low pay.

    Doesn't have quality teachers?

    I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education (my second Bachelor's degree by the way). I live in the NW Indiana/Chicago area and cannot find a teaching job ANYWHERE, despite sending out literally 100's of resumes - there are simply not enough teaching jobs to go around in this area (others I graduated with cannot find teaching jobs either). The only way to gain the necessary experience to 'get my foot in the door' as a classroom teacher is to tutor or sub.

    Do I like the reality of low pay for teachers (tutoring or in the classroom)? Of course not. But please don't get the erroneous idea that unless a teacher is employed by a school corporation, that he/she is not a quality teacher.

  31. Dawn Covello said on January 18, 2007:

    I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education (my second Bachelor's degree by the way).

    Dawn, you may or may not be a good teacher. I obviously can't know. But please don't use "I got good grades and two degrees" as proof that you're a good teacher. It doesn't prove - or disprove - anything.

    1. Erik,
      I'm glad you started this discussion!

      A bachelor in elementary education is a joke! You just have to complete ridiculous "tasks" and work on "projects." I went through Single Subject credential school and it was such a breeze. Any dummies with the ability to bull-sh*t can get this degree. I'll call you a genius when you get a degree in Math!

      I used to work for Sylvan as a teacher through one of the free programs that they run for the school districts. Because apparently, the districts think Sylvan can make a difference; so they gave Sylvan a generous contract. The difference Sylvan cares to make is to increase their bank account.

      Sylvan's directors are corporate whores who only cares about money. After all, if Sylvan cares about students like all the directors claimed here, why don't they open a center in a ghetto?

      Parents, you know why Sylvan is so successful? Because they actually have somebody spend some time with your child and go over the homework! They're not genius with special strategies! They just charge you a lot of money to perform one of your duties as parents: to be consistent and spend time with your child when he/she is working on their hw! If you would have been consistent and put forth time and devotion, you wouldn't need to pay Sylvan to "babysit" for you.

      People: please think about it! How do they afford the advertisements? How do they afford to open locations with high rent? Where do they get these money? From *ucking with your heads and squeeze your hard-earn money.

    2. Erik,

      Are you a teacher? Some of the comments you make suggest that you are not one. Maybe you should leave the teacher comments to those people who are actually teachers. You're buddy DS seems to think that a Bachleor's Degree in Education is a joke. I wonder if either of you have ever set foot in a classroom to teach. It seems like you have not.

    3. Ava said on August 10, 2009:

      Are you a teacher?

      Did you bother to read the actual blog post, or just the comments?

      Ava said on August 10, 2009:

      You're buddy DS seems to think that a Bachleor's Degree in Education is a joke.

      It's "your." Maybe it's more of a joke than you think - it didn't help you with basic grammar.

  32. shannon degasperis said on November 20, 2006:

    I am a hard working single Mom. The school advised me to sign up for this sylvan program..

    Sooo, I have just enrolled my daughter in sylvans center. It cost me $250.00 for a 4 hour test , $ 50.00 for a enrollment fee and then I was told that my daughter needed to come 4 times a week at $42.00 per hour... (( WHAT ))? This is tapping me out!! MY QUESTION IS : Does the school get a kick backs $$$ for recommending them to parents?? I went to the office and explained I can not aford to drop all this money and they made me feel like a really bad mom for not wanting the best for my daughter.. I have spend alot of money so far $1, 140.00 ( this is for only a month).

    My husband and I are looking into this as well for our son. He has reading comprehension issues and fluency problems. He gets good grades in everything except reading that involves comprehension, and things like social studies and math that involve him understanding instructions over a long period of time. Regular math problems, and spelling, he excels in. The school system in KY will only help in those areas if he's failing school. Why should we wait to address this if he gets below a D? He should be making at least b's in most of his classes, and he does if this comprehension issue isn't involved. Good luck to all the parents out there, fight for the best education for your kids, even if it means private school, which may be where we go next.

  33. I worked as a teacher and then an Assistant Director and then a Center Director. My salary started at $6.50, I kid you not. They moved me up to $7 after 90 days. I eventually was paid $8 for teaching. The Director job was salaried at $30K with some benefits.

    All that said, I've been on both ends of the Sylvan thing -- management and labor. I think the diagnostic test is good to get a feel for what skills are missing, but I think parents are better off taking that information and giving it to a private tutor. The hour of instruction will actually be an hour, not an hour divided by three kids, and subtract the time used while a student is waiting for the teacher to finish updating paperwork and recording rewards. It's a huge waste, IMO. I would never send my kids to Sylvan. Seriously.

    Incidentally, I really resent, as a teacher, the idea that a person isn't a good educator if they expect to be paid what they're worth. No one is in it for the money, but a person with a degree should expect to be paid more than a person working at McDonald's. Period. So there's no need to get all self-righteous about the idea that a certified teacher should expect a certain amount of pay.

    And to get the the heart of the issue with directors -- let me relate a conversation that took place among a group of directors and myself one morning. During the meeting, we were discussing the issue of student enrollment. I made the statement that I believed that it was our job to make ourselves obsolete -- that we should be striving to make our students no longer need us. That's because this is how a *teacher* thinks. You'd have thought I had just grown a second head from the looks I got in that room. The directors think like managers. Most of them aren't teachers, or they've forgotten what it means to be in it for the good of the students. The bottom line is the money. They want to get the students in there and keep them there -- the idea is to start by getting students up to speed, then move them into "enrichment" programs, and then to study skills, etc. It's a racket.

    I have no doubt Sylvan helps some kids. I've seen it myself. But I also have no doubt that a private tutor would come a lot cheaper and help much faster. If you insist on taking your kids to Sylvan, have to good sense to realize that the director is out to keep you there for as long as possible.

  34. Elizabeth and all,

    I read your comments, and I am so torn over what choice to make for my daughter. My ex-husband and I are very concerned about our Taylor. She is in first grade, has a bubbly personality, blossoms socially, and is slowly catching on to phonics, but not so much mathematics. Now her report cards, both thus far, reflect all "1s" and few "2s" in reading comprehension and all mathematic skills. The one's stand for working below grade levels with accommodations, and the two's are at grade level with accommodations. The school year is half over, and despite all my efforts at home with supplemental activities, work, memorizational techniques, writing, v-smile games, online learning games, ETC. we are still not confident she will progress to the second grade. Three conferences have revealed that she is an excellent student, with good personable skills, but her teachers feel she is developmentally unequal to her peers due to her age (she is 6, and will not be seven until July of this year) and they have mentioned that she may need to stay back because of this, to actually grasp things better. Now, this scared her father and I. I have leaned towards still helping her and encouraging her, and if she does not make it, understanding it was necessary for her to repeat this grade...it is a hard thing to accept, but I want the best for her. What if holding her back is the best thing? I don't know. Now, to get to the bottom of this, her father mentioned Sylvan to me, that a teacher told him it was the best, I naturally wanted to do my own research. I have seen so many conflicting stories, and high rates, and do not feel confident as of yet, and I have also sent all of my findings to her father. Do you or does anyone else here have any advice for our particular situation? I know most of you say private tutoring is best...I am beginning to see that, but even one tutoring service we checked into (ClubZ) was outrageous, and did not impress during the home visit. This would be her father footing the bill, and I know he may or may not be concerned about the money, and honestly, I am not either. I understand the need to charge, but is it the best thing? My main concern is what is best for Taylor. Now, I don't lilke that there is no one on one with Sylvan, she needs this obviously, not just another classroom setting, that is not working.....any help?

    1. Christy,
      I am an elementary school teacher and I can tell you honestly that some children just need extra support. However, with budget cuts and poor funding, very few of my students have been able to get the time they need with a resource teacher working daily in small groups at the child's instructional level. Because of increasing class sizes, classroom teachers are unable to provide some of these children with all the support they need. However, you are right to worry about your daughter because literacy skills in 1st grade are vitally important. Children seem to fall farther and farther behind if they do not acquire grade-level literacy skills in 1st grade. Once they have these gaps from previous years, it is even more difficult for teachers to try and catch them up while they also teach the current grade-level skills.
      I have had a few students make progress with Sylvan, however, I agree that the service is way over priced. If I were you, I would ask around at your daughter's school to see if there is a teacher that would like to earn a little extra money over the summer. Ask the principal to send out an e-mail. Teachers are underpaid and I bet you would have lots of takers. Then choose the teacher you feel would be best for your child. All elementary teachers should have a solid background in teaching literacy. If you could find some to tutor for 90 minutes a day, one-on-one, I bet your daughter would make remarkable progress. If you offered $20-25 I think you' be getting better, more personalized tutoring and saving a bundle. Also, if you sit in on a couple of sessions a week and monitor her progress, you'd probably have a great idea of how you could continue to offer at home support during the school year. As a teacher, if a parent comes to me and says "what can I do to be helping my child at home" I always have plenty of suggestions. These are the children that make progress because they have a committed parent willing to offer support and encouragement at home.
      Sylvan certainly would be much better than no tutoring at all, but again, I think if you find a quality teacher (which shouldn't be too hard if you offer $25) to be her personal tutor, she make a lot more progress. Also, you'd probably save quite a bit.
      Additionally, it sounds like your daughter has great social/study skills. It could be that perhaps she has a learning disability of processing disorder (dyslexia, etc). I see a lot of children suffer going undiagnosed and teachers are not aloud to suggest to a parent that they have their child tested. Teachers are certainly not physicians, however, they work with a lot of children with disabilities and can often recognize symptoms and signs quite easily. If you do hire a teacher as a private tutor, I would ask him/her for their honest opinion at the end of the summer. I would ask if they have seen any signs of learning disabilities that they would recommend looking into. Then you can seek a physician's opinion. I can't tell you how many students of mine have struggle with learning disabilities when they could make so much more progress with the help and support that comes with the understanding of a diagnosis.
      Good luck. It sounds like your daughter has two concerned parents on her side so I'd consider her one of the lucky ones!

  35. I thought about doing a little tutoring this summer and so decided to call Sylvan to hear about what they charge a parent per hour and what they pay. In Spokane Washington they said they pay teachers $10 and charge parents $41.

    I am a teacher at a private school and have had two children go to Sylvan with good results. One child loved it, the other was at one point overworked and refused to go after a while but still benefited.

    I am sure it helps children otherwise why would it exist at all? However does it help all children? There is no such thing as all and always but one must find what works for their child. There are several ways to skin a cat (just an idiomatic expression I love cats) and when you do, it will be the cat's meow for your child. There is nothing like a child who finally starts doing well in school again. It changes more than their grades.

    Non the less I bet parents can find tutors for less than $41 and who maybe even have the diagnostic tools Sylvan have. As a classroom teacher I am thinking of charging $25 - $30. I will not work for about 2-3 dollars above the minimum wage. I could easily offer diagnostic reading tests, and math tests to see what a child knows using a computer and paper pencil and observation and questioning. Questioning is a big one and a computer test does not ask motivational questions, or get to the bottom of why some kids are not learning.

    If Sylvan gets your child up to speed and then starts offering "enrichment" as someone wrote, I might suggest that you can supply enrichment yourself simply by taking your child to a museum, hiking, reading a book with you child, teaching them how to build something, knit, paint, visit an old person's home, visit any number of businesses, factories, government agencies on and on. The more the better. Enrich like crazy because the more they see the more they will be able to write from experience, understand when they read and will even understand why math is important. (TV is not enriching in most cases- too passive)

    Hope this helps. And remember. Paying a classroom teacher $25-$40 per hour (my brother pays $40 in Massachusetts for his daughter) is not too much really when you consider what is at stake in the long run. The price of failure or mediocrity is far greater. Anyway they can always go to Walmart and work for $10 per hour (after just a year) if they work smart. Your call.

  36. My daughter has had hearing problems since birth. She has had three surgeries on her ears, adnoids, tonsils, and again ears. She was diagnosed with 40% hearing loss in one ear and 20% on the other, this was in the beginning of kindergarten. Throughout her schooling (she's in fourth grade now) she has struggled with reading and reading comprehension along with some math skills. The girl struggles to maintain A's and B's and consistently has to work harder then her peers. We sought out Sylvan and so far after three months my daughter is above her grade level in reading, math, and is almost up to grade level on comprehension. Sylvan has been a wonderful learning experience for my daughter, those "prizes" someone mentioned earlier have actually motivated her more to meet her goals.
    If you want to compain about pay look at the pay and wages of a U.S. Airmen, Soldier, Marine, and Sailor. They fight for our country and they make $7.00 an hour. Enough said.

    1. Actually, If you look at the fact they are on the clock 24hs a day 7 days a week. It breaks down to far less then that. Its a shame how the military is paid.

    2. When I was in the Air Force back in 1992, I made $11,000/yr. That was at the lowest rank, and while that looks like nothing, I didn't have much to pay for either. Most of my food, all of my medical (I had my daughter in a private hospital and the bill was $0), and my housing was paid for. I had a car payment, gas, and insurance.

      When I made $75,000/yr as a contractor, I had a mortgage payment, utility bills, food, medical insurance AND medical bills (insurance doesn't pay for much), plus 2 car payments (I was married), gas, and insurance. And I had about $100 a month left over!

      I didn't have the "freedom" when I was in the military to do what I wanted when I wanted, but I didn't have much to worry about in terms of bills. I could just as easily got hit by a drunk driver or shot at by some random bullet and died when I was a contractor, as I could have been sent to fight and died for my country. It's all in how you look at it.

      As far as the Sylvan issue, my girlfriend has a 10yo boy who has the biggest trouble with reading/comprehension. He adds syllables and sounds to words that aren't there, and can't tell you what the story was about because he had so much trouble just reading the words let alone understand what he's reading! We are both concerned and involved parents and do what we can to help him. I was looking up the pros/cons to Sylvan as his mom wants to take him there to see if it will help. I just want to have all the right questions to ask and let her know what she's getting into financially. I have read all the comments up to this point and have come out with a lot of good points, both promising and disconcerting. I will try to convince her to look for private 1 on 1 in-home tutors at half the cost as well.

  37. Ferris said on January 30, 2007:

    If you want to compain about pay look at the pay and wages of a U.S. Airmen, Soldier, Marine, and Sailor. They fight for our country and they make $7.00 an hour. Enough said.

    Let me preface this with the fact that I'm thrilled your daughter has had good results with Sylvan. We saw plenty of students that we were able to help. I just think that as a general rule, help can be found cheaper and quicker elsewhere. Sylvan certainly never hurt anyone -- it's just a ridiculous expense for what you actually get, IMO. Since there are three kids there, you're not paying $40/hour, but actually paying about $40 for twenty minutes -- so if you can find a private tutor charging less than $120/hour, you come out ahead, and so does the child who has more attention. But it's your money and your child. Do what works for you.

    But I have to address this servicemember comment, as it's rather annoying. I'm married to an active duty member of the AF, and the pay certainly isn't what it should be given the sacrifices we make. But I can also tell you that those who make $7/hour do not have a degree. Officers certainly make more than that. Enlisted servicemembers are underpaid, no doubt, but that's an apples and oranges comparison. A degree and certification are avenues to advanced pay in our society, and enlisted servicemembers can achieve rank more quickly by obtaining an academic degree, so even in the military, getting an advanced education results in higher pay. (Having said that, getting shot at should result in higher pay as well, but contact your Congressman about that -- we're talking about private enterprise here.)

    Christy Holmes said on January 27, 2007:

    Elizabeth and all,

    My main concern is what is best for Taylor. Now, I don't lilke that there is no one on one with Sylvan, she needs this obviously, not just another classroom setting, that is not working.....any help?

    I can't speak to your situation without observing her personally, but I would suggest contacting her teacher and asking if any of the teachers there tutor privately or contact a private school and ask them. The teachers there generally earn considerably less and may be looking for outside income. If it's a developmental problem, no amount of tutoring is going to bring her up to speed, but only time. I'm not advocating holding her back -- she may hit a developmental "turning point" tomorrow. But I would suggest a private tutor who can be with your daughter one-on-one who can evaluate the problem. Sylvan tutors really don't have the time to get to know a student, since there is so much else going on in there (at least if it's during a busy hour). Also, Sylvan tests are strictly about detecting weaknesses in academic areas -- they cannot tell you about developmental problems. That's more of a pediatric/psychological testing area. I would probably also give your pediatrician a call. But that's just me.

    IMPORTANT ADDITION to my first post:

    I should have mentioned this in my initial post, but it slipped my mind. When I first started teaching, Sylvan had me teaching Algebra to students at one point, as well as doing teaching the math prep for the SAT. **I am a certified English teacher!!** The only Algebra I have had was high school Algebra I and II, and I wasn't very good at it then, plus I'd had ten years to forget it! (I had Math for Art majors as an undergrad and that's it.) I told the director this, but she needed a body in the chair, so there I was. This went on for at least six to eight months before they hired an actual math teacher, but even then, I still had to do it from time to time. But the director told the parents that I was a certified teacher teaching their kid. This was true, but I wasn't certified to teach math at all.

    So it's important to be sure that your child's teacher knows their field. They'll stick any warm body in a chair sometimes if they're hard up for a teacher. I'd have been furious if I was a parent to find out I was paying for that.

    FWIW

  38. Thank you. I actually have arranged for a private tutor, someone I know well just did not know they tutored. Her first lesson is tomorrow. When I said developmental I did not mean "slow" or as in developmentally challenged. I meant that she is much younger than her other classmates, and perhaps I should have waited to start her in kindergarten, pre-k, and first grade. She gets a clean bill of health all around from her doctors. The issue is mainly her stubborness and confidence levels, along with her age compared to her other classmates. Her tutor is a High School Math teacher, with a Master's specializing in Education of course, and Mathematics. Being a personal friend of mine, he adores my girls, and knows he can help open Taylor's eyes better, and does not want me to pay him, but I will not let him refuse. I got lucky this time.

  39. I don't work for Sylvan, but Huntington Learning Center, which seems to be very similar. I am not certified, but I do all the work that certified teachers do at the center, and I get $12-13/hr. depending on the task.

    Funny thing about Huntington -- There's a printed list of employees above the time clock where we punch in. The list ALWAYS has new names written in at the bottom, yet it never grows longer than one page. Hmmmm -- can you say "continuous turn over?"

    Send your kid to a center for anything except test prep and they will sit there for hours doing worksheet after worksheet. There is very little teaching going on and NO consistency because of the turnover.

    After 9 months, I'm fed up, and hoping to jump ship over to Princeton Review, where i can immediately double my pay and focus only on test prep.

  40. PEOPLE- You Don't Understand Tutoring

    For high school students (who do not need remediation) but need help in a current subject such as a high math, science, or foreign languages, a decent tutor will fairly charge between $25-$60 / hour. . . . Parents can probably find 'cheaper' alternatives, search craigslist for the bottom feeders, but know that quality will surely suffer.

    For younger students and anyone in need of basic remediation, a learning center's program for remediation for basic math, reading, writing (such has the curriculum offered by a franchise like sylvan, huntington, or tutoring club) will cost between $35-$45/ hour. . . . Parents will not find a less expensive alternative, because nothing short of a proven program really works. . . . Meaning, any tutor, at any price, simply can not do what the curriculum of a reputable learning center can do. . . and it's a very sad rip-off when they try. Parents are simply throwing away their money in the same way that people don't buy 4 tires for $100 and expect them to last very long. Even a current or retired English teacher can not teach a child who is behind in reading in the way that a learning center's proven reading curriculum can. . . . nor can a math teacher remediate a math student who is behind . . . oh, it might help for that day's homework, but it doesn't address the core of the problem - those missing skills. At a learning center, parents are paying for a proven systematic program to permanently fix the child's "skills gaps", not just the $9-14/ hour teacher delivering the instruction.

    From the outsite, to an uneducated observer, the "systematic" nature of the program might look like worksheets, but that's the learning process in action. Sorry is appears boring, but it is what it is and it has worked for many many decades. . .

    Lastly, truth be told, all fees at all learning centers are negotiable. . . most centers would much rather waive the fees to get your tuition than let you walk out the door.

  41. What bothers me the most........is our children spend 7-8 hours a day, five day's a week at school. Why do we have to pay other people outside of their school to really educate them? Sometimes I consider becoming a stay at home mom so that I can educate him myself. As most of us know, it just simply not possible. I am a single mother and work two jobs to survive. Why do our children need further education?

    1. yo...it's public school. people here are complaining about the time being divided between three students, not twenty. and you probably don't have to pay these people extra if you'd just make sally do her homework. but you're not supermom so you shell out da dough. cause isn't that what you really want?? someone else to take over your daughter's education and leave you with an extra hour of peace in the day?

  42. As educators, there are times when we all wish we had a remote control to "pause" the classroom. There are children who don't always "catch on" and teachers do not have the time to make sure that each chlid "gets it." Due to the rigors of standarized testing and end-of-course tests, teachers must press on, as frustrating as that is to everyone.

    While it is expensive, these learning centers spend more money on making sure they have the resources to help every student who comes through that door. I know centers that have over 800 pieces of curriculum ranging from Pre-K to adult. Show me a private tutor/teacher with those resources. In addition, how many parents are able to do background checks on their own personal tutors?

    1. Lyn said on April 19, 2007:

      I know centers that have over 800 pieces of curriculum ranging from Pre-K to adult. Show me a private tutor/teacher with those resources.

      A good tutor won't make that claim. They focus on the tier they know well.

  43. Blah, Blah, BLAH!~ when was the last time anybody told a doctor that they should be into their profession to "just to see people get well, and to NOT be into it for the money?"..I am a recent graduate with teacher certification and all I am seeing is how people feel they DON'T have to pay teachers what they are worth! as professionals, deserve to get paid a professional wage. Teachers have spent years on our education (need I mention the constant demand on continuing education) and no one seems to see the value in it. We have racked up student loan bills just the same as any other professional; Doctors, Lawyers etc. etc.
    It sounds to me like Sylvan is trying to get the biggest bag for their buck. Yeah sure, the teachers don't have prep to do, and they get weak raises every few months...but what about their knowledge and experience? why does Sylvan think they can get that for free?

    1. Why would any center pay you more. Please don't compare yourself to a Doctor or a Lawyer. You make me laugh. :lol:

  44. After reading all the comments on this thread I'm sorry for ever bringing my daughter to sylvan. She is seven years old and having trouble with math. We have tried to do more at home and all it got us was frustrated (on both sides). She has expressed some of the same concerns that have been listed here , not enough individual attention, room to noisy and distracting, not actually doing math, having to compete with other children at her table and most recently being told that she could not go to the bathroom or get a drink of water until the instructor felt it was appropriate.

    Like an idiot I gave them the entire tuition upfront. Do any of you know how or if I can get my money back so I can spend it on a private tutor? Any help with this would be most appreciated.

  45. My daughter presently is in Huntington Learning center in Orlando Florida- they promised us the moon in a short time
    but we still have to see the benefits . we are thinking of retaining her this year- seems like Sylvan isn't much better
    they are all businesses set up to milk the less fortunate
    students parents... I did not give them all the 6000 dollars
    they wanted up front - so far we have given them 3000 and
    are thinking of throwing in the towel in June and give the kid a
    well earned rest for the summer . time is a good tutor also
    some times kids just need a year to catch up -that's life
    we all have our shortcomings as human beings
    after all - look at that kid in Virginia Tech -- he was an English
    Major that knew how to write well ... look what he did ...

  46. scott said on April 22, 2007:

    After reading all the comments on this thread I'm sorry for ever bringing my daughter to sylvan. She is seven years old and having trouble with math. We have tried to do more at home and all it got us was frustrated (on both sides). She has expressed some of the same concerns that have been listed here , not enough individual attention, room to noisy and distracting, not actually doing math, having to compete with other children at her table and most recently being told that she could not go to the bathroom or get a drink of water until the instructor felt it was appropriate.

    Like an idiot I gave them the entire tuition upfront. Do any of you know how or if I can get my money back so I can spend it on a private tutor? Any help with this would be most appreciated.

    Just ask for the refund - there is a two week "written notice" requirement, but if you make a big enough stink, you might be able to waive the notice. Ask for "corporate" if they will not cooperate.

  47. Is that the norm?? $40 a session? Wow I was hoping to help my daughter with reading comprehension. Each year she is sent to the next grade with the ""Work on reading comprehension" and each year I ask WHAT CAN I DO?! HELP!?! SOS!!! she started out reading high as a 4 yr old and has progressively gotten worse!! she's 9!! HELP!!!

    1. linda--
      i am in the exact same boat with my daughter. Her confidence and intellect was high above her peers until 1st grade. I get the "work on reading comprehension" year after year. she is currently in her 2nd year of 3rd grade. She should have waited a year to start K i believe now, but she has also been overplaced for 3yrs and falling further behind as her reading skills never seem to grow higher than mid 1st grade level. I am extremely irritated and annoyed by commenters saying if we seek help we are wanting to pay someone else to do our job. Or if we can't fix our childs education defecentcy it is our failure as a parent. I am an extremely involved parent, I read with my daughter and always help with her homework. But i am not a teacher, I read very well, but i do not know how to teach phonic to my 9 year old so gets it and retains it.
      All i am left to think is i just don't know how to teach her right? or she needs more individual attention with a Teacher. She does the 'free" public school reading resources and summer programs every year since 1st...and not one of them has helped her to progress. She does very well at math..obviously bc she doesn't have to read to do it! Math word problems are another story. She does mediocre on Social Studies and Science due to how much of the reading she understood. If she knew what she read of course she'd do well on the work! Right?!!

      I am just so frustrated at this point. I don't have the money to pay a place like Sylvan even if i wanted to. Every teacher since K said she catch on, bc she was so bright in all other areas, yet she never has. I've talked to the schools, board of ed, doctors, teachers, and i feel no one has a real answer as to how to help my child not struggle and hate school. The only relief i have ever gotten in any form of help for my child was having to seek a solution myself, NOT ONE TEACHER EVER OFFERED ME IDEAS ON WHAT COULD HELP MY CHILD. OTHER THAN READ MORE!!!

      Her 3rd grade experience last year 08/09 yr was such a paper pushing overload, w/ her not being able to read well, the entire year was a complete waste of my childs time and tears and my families frustrations. Every school subject was taught with at least 5 or more worksheets, adding up to about 15 + a day,.. one weekend my daughter had 50 pages of homework from one week of school...her week there as a new student as well!!! it took us months to catch her up. She was so overwhelmed and no matter what i could not catch her up. She was required to work during her lunches as well as recesses!!! my poor child gained weight due to no activity or play time for her. Then had to come home and in order to keep up w/ her homework overload i had to crunch her on her play or free time she dying for! what was I do to??? Her teacher always said she was highly distracted, doodled a lot. (THIS YEAR THAT ISN'T EVEN A PROBLEM)....

      Well my logical thinking was, there is just too much paper busy work, it is overwhelming her, it is constant work work work, and she would just throw in the towel and doodle. I would too! All these kids did in this class was paper, nose to the table all day. (this was first experience with a Title I school as well, before this I had no idea what that even meant).

      I could get my daughter to catch a break, so i took her to the doctor, he put her on 15mg of CONCERTA to see if that helped her w/ being so distracted. Of course it didn't bc she was distracted bc she couldn't read well and keep up with the work, not bc she is ADD. I worked months to force gag this pill down my daughters throat hoping it would help her in this class. When i think of putting her threw that it makes me cry. I never thought elementary school would be soo horrible for my little girl. I always loved school at that age and did well. I never anticipated all the heartache thus far.

      Still being frustrated that the "magic" pill did not work, i went to another school seeking help bc my daughters school wasn't offering any ideas or solutions other my child needs to apply herself more and i need to read to her more i guess. (mind you she was NOT GETTING RECESS AND WORKED DURING HER LUNCHES SOMETIMES EVEN DURING "SPECIALS" -- WHICH WAS MUSIC OR PE) This other school front desk worker gave me more help in the 20minutes i spoke with her than my childs school had in 4 months. She said if my daughter was taking Concerta she qualified for a 504 plan or an IEP, she could have a reduced work load and other arrangements made so she wasn't always so frustrated and behind. I had never heard of this before, amoungst other conversations i am convinced her teacher merely did not want to admit she was giving my child and all the children far too much busy work.

      I take my doctor signed form that certifies my child for a 504 to the office and we have a meeting with the VP and her teacher to set up her IEP. I couldn't believe these options on it, one was that she get more physical activity bc she had too much unleashed energy- YA THINK!--mind you i only got the teacher to agree to 2 or 3 recess a week (20min each) rather than not getting any at all bc of behind work. My daughter tells me she still hardly got recess time. She got to "walk the fence" while she worked on school work so she is still activily moving! ???? WTF?? i've never heard of such things. The Principal wasn't at our meeting bc i had cried too many times in his office so we just didn't get along or see eye to eye. wonder why? However even decreasing her work load wasn't enough, bc this teacher gave out far more than any teacher i've ever seen for this age. Needless to say not all that was in the IEP was followed, and the year just felt like a total waste. I got tired of the fight for better for my child at this school and luckily i knew we were moving and changing districts.

      Now this 3rd grade year my daught magically has no "ADD" symptoms or signs, she doesn't doodle and she doesnt get distracted, but the work load is less than half what it was at the previous school for the same grade. She has more time to be engaged and process what she is doing and enjoy it. Wow who'd a thunk it! Now how about the absurdness that there was no "ADD" testing or specialist that said my child needed meds. I simply told our Tricare Pediatric DR that the teacher i see these issues and think this may be what it is and i got a prescribtion. I feel our kids are just getting crapped on, doped up and pushed through the system. I do feel my son has ADHD, he's 6, but find it pointless to take him the doctor to get a controlled substance w/o any specialized testing to be sure this is really the problem. I guess it is just hit and miss with these types of diagnosis??

      But the reading issue still continues and with 4 months left in this academic year I have loads of anxiety about 4th grade being right around the corner. I don't know what to do. I am left too feeling like homeschooling is the only answer, bc trust me 30 minutes a night reading with my kid like one dad wrote is not enough to fix the overplaced errors of shotty teaching my kid got the past 3 years.

      The teachers have too large of classrooms, too many kids have uninvolved parents thus making them more of a distracting for the other children, and there just simply aren't enough resources anymore in the public school system. My kids were lucky enough to attend a DODS school system in Germany when we were stationed there, and what a night and difference it was. You could almost say they were OVERSTAFFED!!! Plenty of help per student, large rooms, very parent friendly and welcomed parently involvement (not my experience in the states), and the staff was of course far better paid, these are GOVT dollars, not state dollars....and even substitute taught there for double what my mom (a certified teacher) subs for for here. plus mine was tax free! She too looked for years for work and found none. So she had to substitute.

      anyways, i am just largely frustrated and at my wits end. There is no simply answer, blame us parents, or the teachers, or the system, it in large part is all of it. And i know my grama and puncuation here has been horrid, but i write as a venting mother blogging my rants here, not as a college grad scholar looking for a good grade, so enough of the grammar correction cheap shots smart asses!! it is a petty way to disagree with someone just to point out thier errors, i probably misspelled something in this sentence already!!

  48. Linda said on April 28, 2007:

    Is that the norm?? $40 a session? Wow I was hoping to help my daughter with reading comprehension. Each year she is sent to the next grade with the ""Work on reading comprehension" and each year I ask WHAT CAN I DO?! HELP!?! SOS!!! she started out reading high as a 4 yr old and has progressively gotten worse!! she's 9!! HELP!!!

    It can go up to $50 per session at Sylvan depending upon the payment plan. The main problem at Sylvan is that you may not be paying for a full hour. The model is 3 students at a table "sharing the hour." The teacher can only work with one student at a time, so, in theory, the teacher spends 20 minutes with each student. During the other 40 minutes the student is doing independent work related to the "guided practice" that the teacher spends 20 minutes on.

    Of course, if the center doesn't have much business, and there is only one student at the table, the student may get more time. However, the student will still do independent practice no matter how many students are at the table.

    As far as the reading comprehension is concerned, the Sylvan materials are the same as you would find in any school or teacher supply store. Questions about "main idea," "cause and effect" etc. which relate to a particular passage. The this is not magic - just similar work that they get in school, but somewhat more individualized instruction.

  49. Nick K said on April 14, 2007:

    PEOPLE- You Don't Understand Tutoring...Parents will not find a less expensive alternative, because nothing short of a proven program really works. . . . Meaning, any tutor, at any price, simply can not do what the curriculum of a reputable learning center can do. . . and it's a very sad rip-off when they try.

    Ok, I'm calling BS on this right now. I understand tutoring fine, since I ran a Sylvan. A tutor who knows what the skill gaps are will have **absolutely no problem** going into a teacher supply store and finding materials to address any skill gap that Sylvan addresses. Period.

    Trying to pretend as if there is this secret knowledge that only Sylvan or another "reputable" center has is exactly how they try to approach parents -- to make them fearful that they can't possibly solve the problem without their professional help.

    Quite frankly, that's just crap.

    Lyn said on April 19, 2007:

    I know centers that have over 800 pieces of curriculum ranging from Pre-K to adult. Show me a private tutor/teacher with those resources.

    A private tutor doesn't need 800 pieces of anything! That's a red herring argument. The private tutor only needs those materials that will help that particular student! That's why they don't need to charge the ridiculous amounts of money that Sylvan charges. (Plus tutors don't have to pay for those $5 glossy brochures that cost $2 more to mail...)

    Former employee said on April 29, 2007:

    As far as the reading comprehension is concerned, the Sylvan materials are the same as you would find in any school or teacher supply store. Questions about "main idea," "cause and effect" etc. which relate to a particular passage. The this is not magic - just similar work that they get in school, but somewhat more individualized instruction.

    EXACTLY! This is why a private tutor makes a zillion times more sense. If you want to have your child tested at a learning center to find out what the skill gaps are, that's great. Then take the results and go to the teacher supply store and buy the materials that address those gaps. In fact, the public library has nearly everything you'd need.

    Not that Sylvan wants you to think about that...parents need to think that the more they spend the better the quality. With tutors, that just isn't the case.

  50. Thanks for your comments you guys! I have tried the buy it at the bookstore stuff but I wanted to have her 'go" somewhere to get out of the house and neighborhood kids for the summer. I contacted a tutor who actually teaches the next grade she will be in. She said the "going" rate is $20-25/hour and wanted to know how "often" I wanted her to go. What are your opinions? once a week? twice a week? and is an hour long enough? I didn't think an 8 yr old could spend more than an hour on one subject? Open for suggestions and comments. Thanks again!!

    1. people can only stay focused for one minute for each year they've been alive, with adults topping out at 15-20 minutes. so negotiate the half hour session and send her everyday. to me!

  51. If it were me, I would have her go a couple of times a week if that's feasible, but definitely no longer than an hour. It's been my experience that any longer than that, and they just can't stay as focused. (And the $20-$25/hour sounds very reasonable if the person is a professional. I made that amount in the mid 90s when I tutored privately.)

    Since it's a reading issue, I'd also sign her up for the summer reading program at the library if she'd cooperate. (Most public libraries have these.) Ask the children's librarian for good book recommendations -- a series is really the best thing because she'll want to read them all to find out what happens -- but make sure it's not above her ability level or she won't want to do it. If you can start her on books that are slightly below her grade level, she will get in some great practice, and she may form a new habit she'll love.

  52. It's amazing how much lip service parents give when they talk about how they value education . . . right up until it hits their wallet. . . Then "it's too expensive" "they charge the rediculous amounts" "a rip-off" and the seriously dangerous advice by the previous Sylvan director to DIY by going to the library or teacher supply store.

    You don't DIY your child's health, you don't DIY your car maintenance, you probably don't even DIY your own lawn care or home cleaning . . . . but to spend a few bucks on the proper education of your child . . . well, now that's a rip-off.

    Between cheap parents and lazy kids who won't speak up, there is no mystery why the U.S. is well behind many other countries in education.

  53. To put it straight..yes I do DIY EVERYTHING that I do especially illnesses and lawn care.

    My daughter gets A's and B's, I just want to keep her up to par over the summer. As for the money... I don't work and I choose to better my childs' education by getting opinions from people like Erik to see if Sylvan is worth the money or to hire a private tutor.
    As for cheap education, I pay $200 up front to put my kid in public schools and that does not include the endless supplies, field trips,book fairs, fund raisers, teacher gifts, etc . that I pay for.

    Besides, I moved from Florida schools to get away from Hitler style "teachingto the FCAT test"and in MY OPINION, school is much more than just learning.

  54. Diana said on April 30, 2007:

    It's amazing how much lip service parents give when they talk about how they value education . . . right up until it hits their wallet. . . Then "it's too expensive" "they charge the rediculous amounts" "a rip-off" and the seriously dangerous advice by the previous Sylvan director to DIY by going to the library or teacher supply store.

    You don't DIY your child's health, you don't DIY your car maintenance, you probably don't even DIY your own lawn care or home cleaning . . . . but to spend a few bucks on the proper education of your child . . . well, now that's a rip-off.

    Between cheap parents and lazy kids who won't speak up, there is no mystery why the U.S. is well behind many other countries in education.

    I have always found it ironic that a company that tells parents "you get what you pay for" in education pays their teachers less than half the going rate for a good tutor. Ironic, eh?

    And, FWIW, my "dangerous" advice is backed up by: a BS, an MEd, and a PhD -- all in education or education-related fields; middle school, high school, and college teaching; advanced level state teaching certificates; and teaching and directing at multiple Sylvan Learning Centers. I'm fairly comfortable in the fact that I know what I'm talking about when it comes to education and Sylvan. I recommend a professional tutor, but not Sylvan because of the money as well as the fact that the child gets individualized attention.

    Attempts to make parents feel as if they are shortchanging their children if they don't spend the child's college savings is a tactic used by Sylvan to frighten and guilt parents, and if you give it a moment of thought, it's a ridiculous argument. (If your doctor was charging you $6000 to remove a splinter, it would still be a rip-off, regardless of his level of expertise. You don't need a doctor to remove a splinter, and you don't need 8000 pieces of curriculum to teach one child.)

    What I have suggested is that no one needs to pay the equivalent of $135 an hour (Sylvan wants $45 "an hour" although your child only gets twenty minutes of that time) when a well-qualified person can find perfectly suitable materials, will give a child full attention for the hour, and will do the job for a less than a fifth of the cost of what Sylvan charges.

    If you want to pay $135/hour, be my guest. Your child won't be able to hear the tutor over the din, not to mention the other ADHD child at the table who demands all the teacher's attention, and the teacher will also be busy getting three notebooks updated during the hour -- but if it makes you feel like you're doing good for your children if you spend more money, that's your prerogative.

    Just don't fool yourself into thinking that because something costs more it's what is best for the child.

  55. I'm noticing a recurring theme - advice from former Sylvan employees need be taken with many many grains of salt. Can you say Disgruntled?

    IMHO, in tutoring, like everything else, you do get exactly what you pay for. If you don't agree, that's fine, roll the dice with your own children, but please don't advise others to go cheap.

    At the bottom rung, armed with stuff from the teacher supply store, DIY. Take a small step up and hire a teenage high school student from the neighborhood to sit with your child. A bit more and you can buy a college student's time. Spend even more on the so-called "professional" tutor - who comes with/without curriculum, lesson plans, background check, reliability, and does not offer any sort of guarantee of student success - maybe you get lucky and find a gem of a teacher. . . maybe not.

    With my daughter and her struggles with math, we started cheap, and crawled up the tutoring ladder. Her continued frustrations stretched the parent-child relationship to the breaking point, spoiled the fun of her elementary years, wasted a pile of our money for no results, and tested all of our patience on many 'wannabe tutors' and 'broken promises' . . . If there's one thing I've learned in the process, having a bunch of degrees does not mean you can be an effective teacher - even one-on-one.

    Eventually, it was Sylvan's proven curriculum and guaranteed program that saved her. Sure, it was expensive and yes, there was another child or two at the table working out their own problems, but it's nowhere near the chaos of the classroom, the program worked, it worked fast, and our only regret is that we didn't go there first.

  56. Satisfied Parent said on May 1, 2007:

    IMHO, in tutoring, like everything else, you do get exactly what you pay for. If you don't agree, that's fine, roll the dice with your own children, but please don't advise others to go cheap.

    Is there some reason why you can give advice but those of us who disagree cannot? And I don't know anyone who would consider hiring a professional teacher to tutor their kids to be "rolling the dice" with children. :roll:

    But I must say that if you don't want a cheap tutor, Sylvan isn't the way to go at all. Sylvan tutors are paid less than half what a regular tutor makes. That kind of throws off the whole "don't go cheap" argument there a bit doesn't it? Sylvan seems to think it's okay...

    And FTR, I'm not recommending against Sylvan solely because of the cost -- I recommend doing what makes the most sense for the child: A certified teacher in the quiet of your home giving your child 100% attention with hand-picked materials OR a certified teacher in a room with twenty people moving around, five or six of whom are talking at one time, waiting for the teacher to get ready to deal with them, who will work with them for **at the very most** twenty minutes.

    If you seriously think that is what's best, then that's what you should do, regardless of cost. I just don't see it that way.

    Satisfied Parent said on May 1, 2007:

    Sure, it was expensive and yes, there was another child or two at the table working out their own problems, but it's nowhere near the chaos of the classroom, the program worked, it worked fast, and our only regret is that we didn't go there first.

    I recommend that any parent who wants to send their child to a Sylvan go to that location during the busiest hour -- sit there and listen to the noise and then tell me that is the best you can do for your child.

    Incidentally, we estimated that approximately 30% of our students were ADHD and on meds; however, these children were almost always off their meds by the time they came to Sylvan because their parents didn't want to give them more after school. Unfortunately, teachers simply cannot do the kind of individualized instruction that Sylvan promises in a fair and consistent manner when they have a child (or children) at the table that cannot work when there are distractions at the table or nearby.

    But that is what your $45/hour gets you. Again, if you think that's the best you can do for your child, that's great. If you think it's the best you can do for no other reason than "it costs more so it must be better," that's just foolish.

    1. thank god. finally someone that believes in giving amphetamines to children whose brains haven't begun to develop. meth and cocaine hamper the development of the frontal lobe, in adults, the part of the brain responsible for making mature decisions. have you tried ritalin or aderol? the stuff gets you jacked up. so give me your kids without their meds. i hate druggies.

  57. Satisfied Parent said on May 1, 2007:

    I'm noticing a recurring theme - advice from former Sylvan employees need be taken with many many grains of salt.

    Can you say Disgruntled?

    I think it's great that you can get the "inside scoop" from websites like this one. Sylvan is just one alternative of many - those who pay for such services are entitled to know what they are actually paying for. If it works for their child, that's wonderful, if not, there are other options that work well. By the way, my understanding is that Sylvan is rolling out a home tutoring program soon - perhaps they are seeing the advantages of 1 on 1. This cost, of course, will be much more than the in center tutoring.

  58. I've been working for Sylvan for the past 3 years, started off as a teacher 2004 and was getting paid 10.50. I was a first grade teacher getting paid more than what i'm getting paid now but even thought the pay is low, I love this job because Sylvan does work. I was inspired by parent conferences and hearing how much impact it had on each student. Even though each hour parents are paying are pricey, its still worth it since it does make a difference. We have 3 types of payment options. The most popular one is actually the educational loan where they can pay for 100 hours and their monthly payment is 80 per month. Many people say.. "it is soo expensive" but the program is so individualized because it pinpoints skills each student needs improvements in. There was not a month where students academics declined. Each month so far each student grew 1 year or more in their academics. Sylvan does not rip off anyone. Teachers get paid 10.50 and it gets me a bit angry that they complain about that. The reason for that hourly pay is that all they have to do is come in, sit down, and teach. They do not have to make lesson plans or write a report card or meet with parents.. We provide the lesson, materials, and books they just use thier love of teaching. Please understand that Sylvan is not about money... It's about seeing these students improve and seeing that they love learning.

  59. The original premise was the Sylvan employees. It's a free country - anyone who agrees to be employed by a company can't be calling Rip Off. Just quit your part time job if you don't like the compenstation. But since "seeing these students improve and seeing that they love learning" is part of the deal, then don't quit and don't complain about the money part.

    Somehow, this blog morphs from employees to Sylvan ripping off parents. It appears to me that it's the curriculum and the "system", not just the teacher's shared time that you pay for. Get off the 20 minutes trip. During an hour of tutoring, a student only needs 20 minutes of teacher time. . . anything more dilutes their ability to become an independant learner. And students need to learn how to learn in a real world (noisy) environment. Both of these reasons (the exclusive teacher and the silence of home) are why in-home tutoring often creates a child that is permanently dependant on tutoring, incapable of learning in a noisy classroom where a real world teacher give you 1/30th of her attention (about 2 minutes in an hour long classroom filled with 30 students - with ADHD, special ed problems and much much more).

    If Sylvan starts sending tutors to the homes, it's either in response to their competition from Club Z or University Instructors - who offer in-home services. . . . or as a means to recruit for their "what will be comparatively less expensive" learning center.

    In any event, if you like the learning center idea, but don't want to pay Sylvan prices, you might try another learning center that provides diagnostic testing and curriculum. Shop around. . . Huntington, Score, Mathnasium, Tutoring Club . . . .

  60. I'm currently working on finishing my thesis for an M.A. in Mathematics and I had briefly considered Sylvan as a potential part-time employer this summer. I'm quite thankful for all the feedback and commentary on this forum as it has convinced me Sylvan would not be an ideal work environment. I was aware of the low-pay since a friend of mine use to teach math at Sylvan, but it was more than sufficient as far as she was concerned for supplementary income while she completed her degree. My thoughts had been the same.

    I've worked a variety of jobs ranging from driving trucks to information technology. Both paid more and neither required a degree, but we know that teaching is not a profession one goes into for the money - unless you want to go for a Ph.D and become a college professor at a larger university.

    From a realistic perspective, the amount of money you would pay to have your child tutored at a learning center over a significant period of time is going to be more than most families (and especially single parents) can feasibly afford. Some can and some can't. I feel bad for the ones that are made to feel guilty for not being able to do so. If you don't have the extra money then you don't have it, and unfortunately money doesn't just come by a matter of will (else we'd all be rich).

    I would highly recommend to those two-parent families that you give every possibly consideration you can to home schooling. A classmate of mine that attended graduate school with me was home schooled. He began college at 15 and finished his M.A. before he turned 20. Home schooling is how children have been educated for hundreds of years and it works quite well when parents work hard together to make it happen. For single parents, this is probably not a viable option. But there are still some things you can do to help your child succeed. One such is the following:

    Get rid of your cable TV.

    Aside from an occasional useful broadcast on the History channel or PBS, TV is fairly worthless. Productivity goes up immensely when you disconnect the cable. The silence at first may be a difficult adjustment, but within days you will start to appreciate it. You will find yourself far more productive and your child will follow because imitation is a strong aspect of a child's learning curve. In the absence of a TV, people often turn to reading or other introspective activities while indoors. They also tend to converse more when family members are around and they'll have a stronger tendency to go outside and be physically active. I'm not suggesting you actually get rid of the TV itself, though. Keep it, watch a DVD from time to time, or hook up the bunny ears and catch the handful of broadcasted channels if you're really in the need for some occasional televised news. Also, if you do get rid of your cable, then not only will you find productivity higher, life more fulfilling, and your child more successful, but you'll also eliminate another obnoxious monthly bill. Take that extra money and buy your child a good book. =)

  61. Keep in mind that the $80/month student loan payment plan is most likely for 15 years!

    Also, the 1 year or more growth in academics in reading or math only relates to the particular concepts the student was tested on originally by Sylvan. The student is retested after 36 hours of instruction on these same concepts using a different version of the original test. Of course, the instruction prescribed by Sylvan will focus on the skills that the student has not mastered in the original test, so odds are, that the student will "grow" academically using this formula.

    It should be made clear that the Sylvan gaurantee of 1 year's academic growth after completing 36 hours does not mean that the student will be reading or doing math at an all around higher grade level, i.e., a 2nd grader reading at a 1st grade level will be reading at a 2nd grade level in every sense, or a 2nd grader reading on grade level will be reading at a 3rd grade level in every sense. It just means that certain concepts taught at a particular grade level, which are part of the Sylvan curriculum, have been mastered according to the standardized tests that are utilized by Sylvan. In fact, on the test results shown to parents there is a disclaimer that says that that the "grade level equivalents" are not meant to be considered as actual grade levels.

  62. I have been thinking about purchasing a Sylvan Franchise, and was trying to do some research about the company when I came upon this blog.This was by far the best research based on other people's opinions and experiences. Thank you for being candid and thank you for sharing. Now I can make my decision.

  63. Former employee said on May 27, 2007:

    Also, the 1 year or more growth in academics in reading or math only relates to the particular concepts the student was tested on originally by Sylvan. The student is retested after 36 hours of instruction on these same concepts using a different version of the original test. Of course, the instruction prescribed by Sylvan will focus on the skills that the student has not mastered in the original test, so odds are, that the student will "grow" academically using this formula.

    Exactly. The long and the short of it is they basically teach the test.

    And they give the child the exact same test to see if he/she has improved after three months -- statistically speaking, the child would show improvement without the instruction because he/she will recall seeing the questions on the test.

    The same test being administered in such a short time period makes the results invalid, so the "guarantee" is flawed from the beginning.

  64. Elizabeth said on May 29, 2007:

    And they give the child the exact same test to see if he/she has improved after three months -- statistically speaking, the child would show improvement without the instruction because he/she will recall seeing the questions on the test.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I should clarify: I worked at two centers in the Southeast where we gave the same test to the students for progress testing every 36 hours (usually around four months).

    The two centers where I worked in the Northwest administered similar versions of the same test. However, we only owned two versions of the test. A second set of progress testing would be performed within eight months and the original test would be used again. The companies who make the test suggest that this is still too soon to be administering the same test (if one hopes to achieve a valid result). IIRC, most testing companies want there to be a year between administrations, although by that time most students will have moved up a grade level to a different test anyway.

  65. I have looked at buying a franchise with both Sylvan and Huntington. I have found that the concept does work. However, no two centers are the same. The director and the hired tutors can make a difference. A good director will typically hire the best tutors and keep them motivated and wanting to stay.

    In relation to parents it is critical that they are clear on how the process works and know exactly what they are getting. It is amazing how in our society a family can spend $500 a month on a new car but complain on spending a similar amount on a child. Also, from the meetings with owners and directors it is clear that everything is negotiable.

    The few centers I have looked at the rates for the tutors have all been different. For the most part it is market driven with some tutors being paid a lot more due to long term employment and job satisfaction. Just a couple of thoughts from an outsider.

    One last comment. I had a major learning disability and without early intervention I would have had a much different life. I did not learn to read until the third grade and was in special classes in the afternoon. In short, the help early on gave me the tools to complete High school, college, post graduate studies and to become self-employed.

  66. Alright, first of all sylvan does nothing. They take your money promise you some stuff, and eventually you just quit out of frustration.

    Im taking algebra 1, and was failing miserably. My mum signed me up at sylvan, hoping for me to atleast understand the material.

    Well to my surprise.

    the FIRST day i got there i stumped them with my first problem. The "tutor" that i had, did not know how to do my math. They asked all around the noisy room, and noone could explain, or do it for me.

    their lame excuse was that their math tutor was sick. I asked the question, then why am I here if theres no math tutor.

    I mean come on, adults should be able to do 8th grade math. I continued to go to Sylvan for about a week or so, with no improvement. the same problem kept reecuring, they could not do the problems i presented them with (the ones on my homework) and when their specialized math tutor person did show up one day and worked with me, he was rude , cocky, and wouldnt stop talking about how much he hates his job, and couldnt wait to go home. It also seemed like he had a hangover from the day before when he was "sick" He could do the problem yes, but could he explain to me how he did it? no.

    I began oppenly questioning their system, asking why they could not do an 8th grade problem, or explain it to me. I was simply told that I should change my attitude as it was rude. I was only tryink to argue my point.

    After I got so fed up, I got my mum to pull me out of the program (we didnt get any of the money back that we payed) an expensive amount over $6,000 even though I only attended for about 15 hours.

    Sylvan, in my opinion, does not keep promises, and does not present itself in a leanring environment. There are 4 people to a tutor, and if you have a question, you have to wait yuor turn (usually very long) before they will talk to you.

    I can now proudly say, I am doing very well in algebra 1. And not with the help of Sylvan, but with Huntington Learning Center. I could deffinatly recommend this to anyone, the staff is professional, there is 1 on 1 tutoring, with very very good math teachers/ tutors. I understand all the material, and I am even AHEAD of my math class now by a milestone.

    Dont choose sylvan, they are unprofessional, rude, and a rip off.

    choose one on one tutoring at your home, or huntington.

  67. Jane said on June 1, 2007:

    I mean come on, adults should be able to do 8th grade math. I continued to go to Sylvan for about a week or so, with no improvement. the same problem kept reecuring, they could not do the problems i presented them with (the ones on my homework) and when their specialized math tutor person did show up one day and worked with me, he was rude , cocky, and wouldnt stop talking about how much he hates his job, and couldnt wait to go home. It also seemed like he had a hangover from the day before when he was "sick" He could do the problem yes, but could he explain to me how he did it? no.

    Yes, adults SHOULD be able to do 8th grade math and much more so than that. I'm of the opinion that any person holding a high school diploma ought to know Algebra and Trigonometry and know it well enough to actually use it. This is clearly not the case and it begs the questions, "What are high school diplomas worth?" Honestly, they're worth almost nothing these days. As far as I can tell, college is the new high school and grad school is the new college and really all that school isn't necessarily going to be worth anything if it's sought for the wrong reasons.

    One of the major problems with trying to motivate our children to learn is that we can't give them real honest reasons why they should. I've heard it preached since I was in elementary school: "You need to go to school so you can get a good job." And apparently, this statement is suppose to have some underlying truth that a good job equals happiness. I think kids see through this and know that's it's a lie. What we really should be telling them is that learning for its own sake will enrich their lives in many ways; being able to start up conversations with strangers because of a common thought, engaging in debates for personal growth, understanding science and its effects and dangers, being able to see past the politics of the system and find truth for one's self. Moreover, learning should not be motivated by financial security (which is often an illusion). We should tell our children the truth - that they may not ever need a degree for the way in which they make a living in this world and that they don't necessarily need a college or structured learning environment for mental growth.

    I'm about to finish my M.A. in Mathematics and I will never use it to support my family. When people ask what I'm going to do with my degree, the best response I can give is 'frame it.' It's a nice personal accomplishment, but that's all. I grew up learning computers from a young age and I've had many jobs in the computer field over the years - none of which even cared if I had a high school diploma, much less a college degree - and they paid more than jobs that require an M.A. degree. Even with that in mind, I decided a while back that I will never work in the computer field again.

    I've told folks that jobs I've thought of doing included being a truck driver (smaller trucks) or a writer. They look at me as if it's crazy because, like so many people, they've forgot what it means to really live. You have to follow your heart all the way and you can't make backup plans. Parents have become slaves to their own fears and instilled those fears upon their children which is one of the saddest things I have witnessed. They tell them horrible things when they listen to their children tell them their dreams. They tell them, "You need something to fall back on." This is a soul killer. If you have something to fall back on, you'll fall back on it and you'll always be mediocre. What these parents should tell them is to press after it with all their hearts and to work HARD. They should tell them, "to thine own self be true." But too many of them have become cynical from their own failures and anything that actually speaks to the heart they dismiss as idealistic babble.

    For the first time in my life I have nothing to fall back on and I've never been happier. I recently started writing a novel and I decided that this IS what I am going to be no matter what. Of course the world comes at this sense of faith with all the fearful what if's that it can muster, but a person must be confident enough in themselves not to listen to such nonsense. They ask how will I support a family if I don't make it as a writer. My answer: I won't have a family if I don't make it as a writer. I have disciplined myself not to date at all for several years while I've worked on my goals. And if I don't make my goals, then I live alone. And if I deliver pizzas while I write book after book after book and die alone and single at 45 years old, then I will have no regrets. Because I swear I'd rather have given everything and tried with all the gifts God has given me than to settle for mediocre job security out of fear.

    That's my life and should I make it to my destination then that's what I will teach my children. They'll live from their hearts and they'll understand the true reason of why they should learn.

  68. For the first time in my life I have nothing to fall back on and I've never been happier. I recently started writing a novel and I decided that this IS what I am going to be no matter what. Of course the world comes at this sense of faith with all the fearful what if's that it can muster, but a person must be confident enough in themselves not to listen to such nonsense. They ask how will I support a family if I don't make it as a writer. My answer: I won't have a family if I don't make it as a writer. I have disciplined myself not to date at all for several years while I've worked on my goals. And if I don't make my goals, then I live alone. And if I deliver pizzas while I write book after book after book and die alone and single at 45 years old, then I will have no regrets. Because I swear I'd rather have given everything and tried with all the gifts God has given me than to settle for mediocre job security out of fear.

    That's my life and should I make it to my destination then that's what I will teach my children. They'll live from their hearts and they'll understand the true reason of why they should learn.

    Way to go guy! It took me 40 years to figure this out - you're way ahead of the game. Your writing talent is obvious - best of luck!

  69. Rob,
    I truly admire what you are doing. It takes a lot courage to "leap and let your net appear". I am an actress who is in career/life transition and have to say I have mixed thoughts about what you wrote. As an actress, I too went for it. The problem was bills kept mounting and now I am deeply in debt. Now I am a Substitute teacher working on certification as a theater teacher, with hopes of studying something else for my master's. I'm considering studying something that is related to theater but not exactly what I want to study ( the NYC Dept of Ed has a shortage in this area and will pay for your degree). I've often thought about what I would tell my students about reaching for their dreams when I know the flip side, and decided that I'd tell them they still need to follow their heart. I don't want to instill fear in them because this was a major issue for me when I was actively seeking a film and theater career. I think, if you don't mind that I will tell them what you said.

    Lest you think that I've totally given up, I have some production ideas in mind and will work on these projects. And if some new passion comes my way, I'll grab onto it firmly and follow it through.

    Take wings and soar with your writing endeavors!

  70. To everyone else I'd like to say there are two sides to every story. I have the unique priviledge of being able to view this situation from three sides: As an entrepreneur, as a former Sylvan " admissions expert ", and as a teacher.

    As an entrepreneur, I agree with the person who said that no one is considering what goes into running a center. Last summer I developed a summer camp and had to grapple with money choices. I was the founder so I definitely thought I deserved to be paid. I wound up paying myself a little less than what I had hoped for. I had one employee and I didn't want to slight her, though I still paid her less than I thought she was worth. Lastly, I didn't want to charge the parents too much but they were charged slightly more than I wanted to charge. I had to consider all of these things as well as making sure the curriculum was enriching and exciting for the number one people in this equation- the students. I was unable to get this off the ground and will attempt this again in the furture.

    As a former emplyee of Sylvan, I agree that it is pricey and I am sure a private tutor can accomplish the same results, especially if they are certified teachers. That said, I heard no complaints about Sylvan's effectiveness while I worked there. On the contrary, the only negatives I heard were from parents who couldn't afford to keep their children in the program. Also, someone mentioned that the parents could take the results of the diagnostic tests to a private tutor. We actually gave parents that option when trying to sell them on the program.

    As a teacher I agree with the person who said that a qualified teacher has a right to be paid what they are worth. It's hard not to care about the money when that is your only source of income. You can't tell your bill collectors that you can't pay them because your job pays just above minimum wage. Who in the world can live off $8 an hour. I find that most people who say don't worry about it are getting paid a livable wage. I find it appalling that the teachers were being paid less than what I made as a salesperson. I worked for Kaplan and we were paid $20 per hour and $7 for pre-determined prep time. Because of the limited amount of hours, this was still not enough if I were working this job only. This was an extra small change job for me.

    My point is everyone will have a point of view based on what part they play in the program. I think Sylvan is helpful to many students but I'm glad there are more options out there. I'm sure no program fits everyone.

  71. Alex Eiser said on June 14, 2005:

    Hey, they have to pay for all of those TV commercials some how!

    Sylvan is a big rip off the programs are not followed in the center by the center managers or the education managers. They prepare for conference 15 minutes before you arrive. They let 18-20 year old kids prepare for meetings and decide what your childs needs to work on to move ahead. People are going into debt for this service. The teachers @ that the centers are rude and act just like a $50 an hour babysitter.

    Don't waste your time Sylvan is a Rip off and people are getting rich off a service that you could get for less than 1/2 the price.

    Teachers are given certain things to follow-up on a daily basis in their Binders and it nevers happen.

    Parents if you are reading this make sure that during your parent ongoing conferences that you are asking to your childs binders to see what your child is really learning. You will be amazed of the incomplete binders and the true colors of Sylvan this service is over priced.

  72. I know that some teachers are underpaid at Sylvan centers. I am a public school teacher who recently inquired about full time employment at a center. I went to the interview and was offered a job as an educational director. From what I can tell the directors are essentially running a small school. If you have worked as a director please be honest. Are there reasonable hours required or will I live at the center? As a teacher, I could have spent 60-70 a week assessing students and preparing lessons if this were physically possible for me. I experienced some frustration in this capacity. Would the position as center director be any different?

  73. I am not sure how things are done at Sylvan. I know that Educational directors usually work under the Center Director. As a center director, I could take care of operations in a 40-50 hour workweek. The Educational Director here also does the administrative, but we are new and we don't have that many students yet. I believe it depends on how many students you have in the center, but you can easily fill up a 40 hour work week and leave still feeling like you have more to do. One thing I've learned is to be efficient.

  74. In my experience as a Director of Education the hours were long and the pay was very low. I spent most of my time preparing for parent conferences and doing other administrative tasks and had very little time to actually monitor the quality of the teaching staff or keep an eye on the students.

    Sylvan has a bonus structure for directors but no matter how hard I worked, the bonuses were minimal. One thing they tried to do in my region was to keep labor costs down. This means that the education director will be responsible for additional tasks which besides parent conferences would include updating the student binders (which contain the students lesson plans), teaching, and even pulling the books for the students. Although updating, teaching, and "pulling" are usually done by other staff members, if the regional supervisor tells you to cut labor costs, you have do take up the slack yourself. Thus you work harder and you may feel like your work will never end. Even more than the low pay, this was my greatest frustration.

    The bottom line is that this could be a 40 hour a week job if the proper staffing was available, but as long as I was working at Sylvan, I never experienced anything but a constant emphasis on keeping labor costs down and therefore worked at least a 50 hour week, and I worked most Saturdays.

    I had to account for labor costs every week to the regional supervisor, and if the numbers did not look good, I had to cut staff hours.

    Keep in mind that this is a national company and different regions might have different approaches to this. Also franchise owners may be more accomodating to a director's desire for a balanced life. I worked at a corporate owned Center.

    Hope this helps!

  75. My Dircetor of Education works about 36 hours per week and is paid for 40. During the summer I give her a break and she works about 30 hours per week with no cut in pay.

    Many of you have questions about refunds and how to get them, did any of you pay attention during your enrollment conference? I am sure it was all covered and you also signed a policy sheet that outlines all of this as well.

    We charge $55 per hour at out sylvan, a private tutor charges about $70 in our area. We have credentials as well as a countless supply of materials and resources. At any given tiem we ahve at least 5 to six teachers at this location. A tutor does not. A tutor is a band-aid to help you with a problem Sylvan is the fix.

    I undertsand many of the former employees complaining, how many of you look back on a past job and speak of how great is was? Not many, i'm sure. The other thing is did these taechers leave on their own right or were they no longer living up to Sylvan's expectations. I have very high expectations for my teachers, if they can't live up to them the children suffer. My goal is to help children acheive, if my teachers cannot do that they are asked to leave. They generally go to one of our competitors, thinking they are being spiteful. My teachers get raises and bonuses on an individual basis, if you eran it than you get it.

    I have been open for 5 years now and my D.E has been with me for 4. Our teacher retention rate is great and our parents love us. If your child needs help, GET IT! You can make no greater investment that in your own child.

    Good luck to all of you who may need a little help this summer. Please visit our FREE reading club at http://www.bookadventure.com. I only put that plug in there becauset is free.

  76. I'm curious about the high volume of spelling and grammar errors in your post. The problem with your writing is so extreme that I'd venture to say you are someone that dislikes Sylvan and wrote poorly on purpose in attempts to discredit them - either that or you may have been drunk.

    If, on the other hand, I were to think that you are actually a Sylvan Owner, then I'd have to say what you just wrote seals the prosecution's entire case for Sylvan being a bad investment.

    1. :lol: Now don't you feel like a idiot??? Correct that jerk.

  77. :cry: I do apologize, I have a neuromuscaular disorder that affects my hand control. Typing is not my strong point, helping others is. I assume you are in a self servng field, most would not be so judgemental of others. I am sorry that you ahve such a negative outlook and feel the need to express it. We don't judge at SYlvan, we offer a solution instead of poking fun at the problem. Again I apologixe for any errors in this posting as well as the last.

  78. Pretty dramatic don't you think? The post wasn't as bad as you are making it out to be. The odd typo here and there happens. Lack of editing hardly qualifies the poster as someone who is "trying to discredit" Sylvan or who has had a few too many. LOL

  79. I must applaud you on your method of defense. Eliciting sympathy is an excellent way to win a case as people have a strong tendency to place emotion over logic in certain situations. However, I'm even more certain now that your initial writing was a ruse to discredit Sylvan. Moreover, your response to me was just another ruse to discredit my response.

    The first matter is one of probability - the number of intelligent immature individuals out there with too much free time far exceeds the number of business owners with neuromuscular disorders. But that really isn't the key factor here. What discredits you most is sheer common sense. Someone with a neuromuscular disorder that caused spelling and grammar errors would be accustomed to those sorts of typing mistakes and thus highly biased towards running spell check when writing anything of importance - especially those things that would be representative of their business and livelihood. But your specific errors included superfluous commas and other logically located errors; not placed randomly as would be dictated by a physical disorder, but rather placed in positions typical of an individual prone to such errors by virtue of poor writing skills. Thus you would either be such an individual or you would be trying to impersonate such an individual. But your response claiming a neuromuscular disorder rules out the former thus leaving you exactly as the latter. In your attempts at creative defense, you've shown your cards I'm afraid to say.

    1. What an a** you are for putting down a person with a disability!

  80. You have all been very entertaining, thank you. Could I please hear from someone who has recently brought a child to a learning center? My child needs help and the schools cannot seem to provide it. Please only respond if you have had experience bringing a child to a learning center. Thanks.

  81. To Curious Parent,

    I have had the Learning Center experience and I can assure you that it is both expensive and effective. We started at our local Sylvan, but they wanted $5000 . . Huntington was even more, but I remember the exact amount . . . Tutoring Club quoted $3000 and offered to guarantee the results. We went with them and it worked just as they said it would. . It was a 6 month program.

    No doubt. . . 3k - 5k is expensive, but if you can afford it, it's worth it. Period.

  82. Im looking for a learning center for my son who is going to the three grade, but needs help in reading and I set up two appointment for sylvan and huntington if you had a choose which one would you perfreed .

  83. Just make sure that the person in charge of the education department has a teaching degree and is not just a salesperson. At Sylvan the Center Director does not have to have an education background, just sales, so at least the person in charge of the educational quality should be a certified teacher with several years of experience.

    Also, tour during the busiest time. If there are few students there, the center has problems keeping clients. If there are many students there - who appear to be happy - the management is doing a good job and it's probably a safe bet.

  84. The only thing that determines what you earn is supply and demand. If few want to work at McDonalds or go fight in a war, then those that do will make more money if burgers are going to be sold and the gov't needs soldiers. Many people want to be teachers even though not so many are actually good at it! Teachers will only make more money when it is harder to become a teacher causing there to be fewer teachers than needed. I don't think this is ever going to happen.

  85. I have been a teacher and Director of Education for two different Sylvan's over the course of 5 years. I have owned my own center for over 6 years. The ignorance on this website is astounding. Frankly, I don't know where to begin.
    Facts about Sylvan:
    never ever more than 3:1 student to teacher ratio
    all centers decide their own pay rate...our teachers earn $15 to $17 per hour(they do not have to create lesson plans or take home work, it is all done for them, they just need to teach)...agreed that some centers under pay.
    We charge between $47 to $52 per hour. This is the going rate in our area for a tutor. It costs the average center approximately $34 to $42 per hour to deliver instruction to one child depending on the region. Therefore, this is not a huge profit margin. The fact is that it costs alot to maintain any business and owning a Sylvan Learning Center is no exception.
    MY Director of Education earns approximately $41,000 per year. She never works beyond 40 hours per week, has three weeks paid vacation, a pension plan, and full health and dental....so we are not walmart.
    I have even paid maternity leave...which is not required by law. I could continue....but I have other things to do...like educate children. If you are a parent and are interested in educating your child, Sylvan should be on your list of potential solutions. To ignore the leading provider in supplemental education is just foolhardy.

  86. current owner/director said on June 18, 2007:

    My Dircetor of Education works about 36 hours per week and is paid for 40. During the summer I give her a break and she works about 30 hours per week with no cut in pay.

    Many of you have questions about refunds and how to get them, did any of you pay attention during your enrollment conference? I am sure it was all covered and you also signed a policy sheet that outlines all of this as well.

    We charge $55 per hour at out sylvan, a private tutor charges about $70 in our area. We have credentials as well as a countless supply of materials and resources. At any given tiem we ahve at least 5 to six teachers at this location. A tutor does not. A tutor is a band-aid to help you with a problem Sylvan is the fix.

    I undertsand many of the former employees complaining, how many of you look back on a past job and speak of how great is was? Not many, i'm sure. The other thing is did these taechers leave on their own right or were they no longer living up to Sylvan's expectations. I have very high expectations for my teachers, if they can't live up to them the children suffer. My goal is to help children acheive, if my teachers cannot do that they are asked to leave. They generally go to one of our competitors, thinking they are being spiteful. My teachers get raises and bonuses on an individual basis, if you eran it than you get it.

    I have been open for 5 years now and my D.E has been with me for 4. Our teacher retention rate is great and our parents love us. If your child needs help, GET IT! You can make no greater investment that in your own child.

    Good luck to all of you who may need a little help this summer. Please visit our FREE reading club at http://www.bookadventure.com. I only put that plug in there becauset is free.

    All of the above is dead-on with its accuracy. I too have had a DE for 5 years. I have many teachers that have been with me me for over 3 years(remember, this is only part-time work for these teachers, many are teaching in their own schools). I just wanted to take the time to highlight accurate comments on this site.

  87. In less than 3 hours my husband and I meet at the local Sylvan to go over my daughter's test from yesterday's first-time assessment. I was appalled when I took her in yesterday. Here was my 17 y/o (already unhappy with having to go in) surrounded by 15-20 fourth/fifth graders. She was given nowhere private to take her test and came home in tears. The quiet center I had initally visited was a learning center zoo. Then, a short bit ago I read that Kindercare once owned Sylvan. Well, that I can speak to as I worked for Kindercare once myself- what a nightmare. I have a degree, experience, and they started me out at the base rate as if I were a 15 year old. But, back to my daughter... how in the world is anyone to learn anything in that environment, with that many ages mixed in together in the same room?!? So far we've only laid out the initial assessment fee, but I am not about to pay them anymore if what I saw yesterday is a typical tutoring program. I've sent my husband some of the postings as I am getting very concerned we are the brink of making a huge mistake. Already there is no way to undo the damage my duaghter felt yesterday when she thought she was going to a great place for teens and instead was left in what looked like a day-care.

    Any suggestions of what to watch out for as far as "hooks" that the director will try to use to enroll her?

  88. Okay, my dad has been working at a Sylvan Learning Center in SLC, Utah for almost ten years. He's hardly ever paid overtime "because he has a salary." His salary is 28,000 a year! He has to support five people on this salary, and still pay more than 500 bucks a month on rent for a crappy two bedroom apartment. Please don't try to tell me that Sylvan isn't ripping off its teachers. :sad:

  89. Laurie said on June 27, 2007:

    In less than 3 hours my husband and I meet at the local Sylvan to go over my daughter's test from yesterday's first-time assessment. I was appalled when I took her in yesterday. Here was my 17 y/o (already unhappy with having to go in) surrounded by 15-20 fourth/fifth graders. She was given nowhere private to take her test and came home in tears. The quiet center I had initally visited was a learning center zoo. Then, a short bit ago I read that Kindercare once owned Sylvan. Well, that I can speak to as I worked for Kindercare once myself- what a nightmare. I have a degree, experience, and they started me out at the base rate as if I were a 15 year old. But, back to my daughter... how in the world is anyone to learn anything in that environment, with that many ages mixed in together in the same room?!? So far we've only laid out the initial assessment fee, but I am not about to pay them anymore if what I saw yesterday is a typical tutoring program. I've sent my husband some of the postings as I am getting very concerned we are the brink of making a huge mistake. Already there is no way to undo the damage my duaghter felt yesterday when she thought she was going to a great place for teens and instead was left in what looked like a day-care.

    Any suggestions of what to watch out for as far as "hooks" that the director will try to use to enroll her?

    If she's not happy in the environment, it's not going to work for her. Tell the Center Director or Education Director that it's not what you expected and cut your losses.

  90. Pete B said on June 27, 2007:

    The ignorance on this website is astounding.

    I disagree with this characterization of our statements. Many of these postings accurately convey the facts and opinions of former Sylvan employees and former clients. That's the whole point of a website like this. Why not give people the facts as we have experienced them so people can make an informed choice?

  91. If she's not happy in the environment, it's not going to work for her. Tell the Center Director or Education Director that it's not what you expected and cut your losses.

    Well, that's what we did. From the look on the director's face, I don't know if anyone has ever questioned her as to why she would try to assess a student in a room full of commotion and expect accurate results. We will press on with trying to find a personal tutor and put this experience behind us. Glad we didn't shell out the $3,000 they estimated we'd need to spend. It's not the money- it's being sure we are doing what is best for our daughter.
    I appreciate all the comments on this blog in helping us make an informed decision.

  92. First of all, I would never take time away from my family for $15-$25 an hour.

    Derek--You talk about the market, but you cannot generalize about teachers. Each one is different so each one will be worth a different amount.

    Advice to parents--Never use a tutor (Sylvan or private) that cannot provide for you before and after assessments. For example, you should know your child's correct words per minute rate, the standard words correct per minute for their grade level, what level of spelling they are at (not grade level, spelling has been proven to be developmental and there are 4 stages--letter name, within word, syllable and affixes and derivational relations), what percentage of comprehension they have at their current reading level, Phonemic Awareness tests, Sight Word tests, etc. You should be able to see growth when these tests are repeated at the end or periodically.

    I don't know anything about Sylvan, but those are some of my standards and I am a reading specialist.

    By the way, many teachers I know that are amazing are doing other things, such as training other teachers, teaching at the college, and doing seminars. What I would do is find an amazing teacher and offer them $40 an hour to tutor privately with no other students.
    Good Luck Parents.

  93. I worked as a Sylvan Director of Education for over 10 years. You can debate back and forth over the validity of any program; however, if you haven't experienced Sylvan how can you judge it?

    To those who say the pay is too low for teachers....what are your local schools paying? As some have noted previously, breaking down local pay per hour for county school systems you find the hourly rate far below $8-10 per hour. Sylvan does hire quality teachers and holds them to high standards because supplemental education is still education. Any true teacher understands the need for quality rather than the "almighty dollar".

    Anyone who experienced Sylvan with negative results should contact either the local Sylvan or the corporate headquarters with questions. Your concerns will be addressed. Sylvan is far more than worksheets, babysitting, group instruction, etc. It is not for everyone and unfortunately everyone cannot afford the cost of private supplemental education. It doesn't mean the Sylvan community thinks you are an inadequate parent. If you have questions, do some real research into what Sylvan is.

  94. Jennifer said on July 11, 2007:

    As some have noted previously, breaking down local pay per hour for county school systems you find the hourly rate far below $8-10 per hour.

    No, you don't. Only ridiculous "break-downs" that included per-student rates drop below Sylvan levels. $8-$10/hour is about $20k/year (if you work 50 weeks/year). Teachers in public schools make far more than $20k/year and don't work 50 weeks.

    Let's go with the high end and take $10/hour. That's $20k/year for 50 weeks of work, or $400/week. All assume an eight-hour work day. Many commenters above have said you don't get paid for everything you do at Sylvan, and that there's still prep work, test grading, etc. for which you're not paid - so I'm being more than generous with these numbers.

    A teacher earning $40k/year is working about 36 weeks. That's just over $1111 per week. If we assume they work 40 hours, that's almost $28/hour. To make as little as a Sylvan employee working for $10/hour, the teacher would have to work over 110 hours per week, or nearly three times (2.8) the 40 hours the Sylvan employee earns. If we assume a 40-week work year, the numbers change to $1000/week, $25/hour, and 100 hours of work to equal the miserably low $10/hour the Sylvan employee earns.

    Sorry, but saying that the hourly rate for teachers is below $8-10/hour doesn't make it so. The math just doesn't work.

    1. If you factor in the fact that your $40k/year teacher is also getting roughly 16 weeks of paid time off, as well as spending far more than 8 hours a day grading homework, creating lesson plans, and attending school events, the math does work. Granted, an ideal 8 hour in-and-out work day would be GREAT, it's just not a reality in teaching.

      The payscale for a Sylvan tutor is dependent upon the location, apparently. And, what are they gaining in regards to pay vs. expense? Immediate clientelle. The truth of the matter is, without a reputation and word-of-mouth, a private tutor has no business. Sylvan provides the students. Tutors provide tutelage. No advertising cost to the tutor, as opposed to self-promoting. (Ads in your local paper will vary in cost.)

      The work is not commisserate with the pay, so to speak, for a teacher. If you break it down to an hourly rate, teachers are paid significantly less "per hour" than your calculated $25. But, you can't beat the schedule. Summer and winter break. Every major holiday off. Weekends free (unless you coach - which you get paid for).

      Sylvan and other learning centers provide a SUPPLEMENTAL income to teachers who, generally, are already being paid to teach. And, as far as supplemental second jobs go, $10-$15/hr (the going rate around here) for a part time gig is pretty phenomenal.

  95. With a master's degree, I make $45,000 a year plus benefits.
    Is that sufficient? Well, it depends on whom you ask and what the cost of living is in the area. I have several friends with masters degrees who make over $100,000 and I would consider us all of equal intelligence and in careers that require an equal amount of required knowledge. They just went into areas that pay more.

    I am content with the pay, though some days I am not. Sometimes it bothers me that all teachers get paid the same amount regardless of different amounts of time invested and effort. Sometimes I am happy to teach and feel rewarded, other days I think that if I opened my own business in any field and put this many hours in, I would make a lot more money.

    People who think that teachers will only be happy teaching are quite mistaken. Most teachers I know enjoy many things. I get satisfaction from working with adults as well. I also think I may open my own non-school related business. My point being is that if society wants to guarantee that teachers are the best they can get then maybe their salaries should be a little more competitive with the business world.

  96. My son needs tutoring and I am considering Sylvan. So, how does it work? Do they require contracts? Thanks.

  97. I currently work at a Sylvan center. The first thing I'd like to make clear is that roughly about 80% of the almost 1200 centers in the US and Canada are individually owned and operated.

    Therefore, all payroll, hourly rates, test rates, quality of staff, etc. will vary center to center. It surprises me how quickly some of you have turned one bad experience with a center into a generalization that the entire Sylvan concept is a bad idea.

    Sylvan uses research based and proven programs/assessments to achieve success within their students. True, Sylvan is definitely not the best fit for all, but done right it is an exceptional resource for students that need that little extra they are not getting at school or at home.

    Not all owners have dollar signs in mind-I personally know my owner loves what she does. Our teachers go through the same background checks that teachers are expected to undergo and require the same certification that classroom teachers are expected to provide when applying for a 'regular' teaching job.

    The same teachers getting hired at Sylvan could be the same teachers standing in front of your child in a classroom. Our teachers are required to do weekly/monthly trainings and workshops to continuously update there understanding of the Sylvan programs and to provide them with exposure to new implementation and teaching strategies.

    A private tutor may be able to provide assistance with homework, but Sylvan can provide a professional outlook, they will identify skill gaps, tailor instruction, provide ongoing assessments and work with parents, educators and schools alike to make sure their students succeed... and no longer need them. I have been here almost three years, my degree is in education, I have taught and now am a director. I am young, and I don't have children yet, but if and when that happens, I would definitely send my own children to the right Sylvan. :)

  98. I contacted sylvan in marlton NJ . before I listened to anything I explained UPFRONT Im getting divorsed and I can only afford approx 100. a week to bring my daughter up to speed on the 3rd grade math she struggled with. (& passed..poorly) but passed. They insisted i take the evaluation test, which i certainly agree with. they insisted i incorporate the reading skils in this testing because that is usally associated with poor math skills... the are the pros so I agreed.
    I was "lucky" enough to get the 99. "special" for the 4 hour test, upon review they presented to me what i already knew my daughter was at grade level for the reading, The math was alittle above 2nd grade level. She would need 5200.00 worth of tutoring in math with a 4 hour minimum a week. I almost fell off my chair and they lowered their price down to 2700.00, I begrudgingly agreed, I paid for the first session of 160.00 and she took the 4 hour class. I told them Id be back next week with the balance check. (i had to try and figure out how i was gonna shit 2700. in a week) I went back the following week and the director was not present I explained my daughter is uncomfortable with a 4 hour session and I simply cant afford it either. I offered them 1 x a week 2 hour sessions. They will get back to me..ill keep you posted but this is "a violation of their policy" so if they dont accept my offer of 10 weeks 1x a week for 2 hours (100. bucks a week) I will just hire one of the many teachers around here that tutor at my house .

  99. If sylvan really does pay their teachers 9-11 dollars and hour that is a joke. Why in the world would you go to 4+ years of college to make so little? I a trying to find a teaching job in my area and with a masters i will start out at around 40k a year. I do not think that is too bad for only working 180 days a year. Anyone that can afford to work for a few bucks more than minimum wage must have a husband supporting them. Anyone that requires your employees to have a four year degree should start out at least around 12 bucks an hour. I am not in the treaching field for money, but come on 9-10 bucks an hour is insulting!!! There comes a point whey yes, money has to come into play if you want to have a half way descent life. Why go to college if you are only going to make 9-10 bucks an hour? So you have 40k in student loans and then make garbage for pay? I could make more driving a forklift with only a highschool degree, and I would be guaranteed a job in the summer.

  100. Jackie - I believe that the corporate "policy" of 4 hours per week minimum is for every student, but the Center Director should have the discretion to allow 2 hours per week if that is all you can afford. So if you tell them you can only afford 2 hours per week, they will probably take that, but warn you that the chances for success are minimized with less hours.

    However, another alternative is paying for "homework support," at Sylvan rather than the regular math program. The cost should be the same. In homework support, your daughter can bring the types of problems that she needs help with to the center (even if it's not homework per se). Once school starts, she can get help with exactly what she is working on in school. This is most likely what an outside tutor would do anyway. Homework support does not come with a "gaurantee," but it still might be more effective for your daughter.

    The regular math program at Sylvan would simply teach her the skills that she needs improvement on, and because the instruction for these skills is not given in any particular order, she may not show the immediate improvement that you are hoping for.

    So my recommendation is to maximize your $100/week by asking for the best math teacher that can work with her on the particular problems that she is struggling with.

    Good luck!

    1. There is no "corporate policy" that states how often a student should attend!!!!! How often a student attends will depend on how much help they need and how fast the parent wants to get them there! And yes, sometimes what a director "recommends" is not what the parent can do....a director does not know what your financial situation is or what your work schedule is.....
      This blog page is the most ridiculous thing I have ever read!
      If your child is struggling in school, failing, does not want to go...what choice do you have as a parent? YOU MUST GET THEM HELP! Sure, everyone thinks a private tutor is the gold standard, but what you don't realize is that most parents have tried that route and it has not worked! Sylvan is usually a parent's last resort.
      A private tutor will struggle to address skill gaps at lower levels. Private tutors also tend to be very inconsistent with scheduling...this is the number one gripe of parents that have tried this!

  101. Dear Jackie,
    I have found much success in an online math tutoring program I have used with my son. Although I do not remember everything about math, I was able to use this site to help me tutor him. The child takes an online test for what ever grade level you want. Then it shows a pie graph of what your child has mastered and what he/she needs to work on. It then gives your child problems to work on and 2 explanations on how to get the answer. It starts at third grade and goes up through College. That is the beauty of computers. One teacher cannot have the amount of available math knowledge that a program can have. My son has gone up 2 grade levels since working on this program. You should try it. They have a trial period. You will know right away if it will work for you. It is only $20 a month, which I think is a steal. It has filled in all of the gaps for my son. Try it.
    http://www.Aleks.com

  102. My visit to this website was prompted by a fact gathering mission that I am beginning as I prepare to support my son in his education as be begins 10th grade.

    When my son was in 3rd grade he had difficulty with reading skills. After attending the local Sylvan Learning Center for the entirety of 4th grade he caught up and surpassed his grade level.

    Currently, after 9th grade, he continues to be tested with success at college level reading. We considered our experience with Sylvan to be a success.

    Last year, my son began his high school education at a Charter school specifically aimed at computer technnology and engineering. My son's passion is computers.

    My son began having difficulty keeping up with the work load by the second quarter. He also began having an attitude problem. If it wasn't specifically related to computers he wasn't interested. At one point he was failing all classes except Computers which he maintained an "A" in.

    We suggested returning to Sylvan and were met with an emphatic "No Way" from my son. His only problem was "being seen" entering or leaving the facility or running into an acquantance in the facility.

    Thus, we contacted Club Z Tutoring. They understood that my son's issues were time management, study skills and that he needed help with Algebra. They first tutor they sent was a certified teacher, but she hadn't worked in a long time. She also had no experience teaching high school level. After working on one problem for 45 minutes and still not figuring out the problem, she said she would dig out her college books when she got home to see if she could figure it out. She "hollered" to me in the other room that this problem had given her an extreme headache. Then during the 5 minute parent conference at the end of the session all she did was talk about her recent divorce and the need to make money. They send a tutor to your house for private help.

    After calling the Club Z director and explaining that she wasn't the right tutor and after being told that they had never dealt with someone who wasn't satisfied with the tutor assigned--that this caused them quite a problem--they sent another certified teacher. Again, we found out that this teacher had no experience with high school level teaching but we gave her a chance. After listening in on a few sessions we had confidence that she knew what she was doing.

    After a couple of months our son was caught up in all his classes and we suggested to the tutor that it was a good time to begin working with him on time management and study skills so that he did not become dependent on having a tutor by his side to get his work done. (The tutor was coming to our home 4 times a week for 1 to 3 hours each.)

    The tutor's response to this was "your son is a teenager, he doesn't want to put in the time to study so it would be a waste of time to teach him those skills." Needless to say, we won't be hiring that tutor back for 10th grade. Our goal is to have a son who can study independently and confidently. We certainly aren't going to send a tutor with him to college! The tutor's goal was to keep working--she told us about the new car she wanted. Obviously, as parents we are aware of the mistakes we have made and the weaknesses we have in instilling those necessary skills. We admit it. The bottom line is we know we screwed up and we want to solve the problems and we are trying to find the right experts to help us.

    Now comes our problem. Do we go back to Sylvan? After reading all the negative comments I now have doubts. Plus there's that problem about "being seen there". I don't want to go back to Club Z because after many conversations with the tutor and the directors, I don't believe they have as a goal to turn out independent learning students. They're good at hand holding but that is about it. I have also interviewed Huntington Learning Center and don't feel they would fit our needs.

    I am more than willing to put in the time to tutor my son myself. The problem there is that our personalities clash in this area and it has been a disaster.

    When I look online for a tutor in our town I come up empty. The only sites that pop up are Sylvan, Club Z and Huntington. How does a parent find a qualified teacher? I looked online also at the local college's education department and couldn't find anything. Does anyone have any suggestions?

  103. Dear JJW,

    All of the Sylvan teachers are supposed to be certified teachers - but they are not necessarily qualified to teach a particular subject. And even if you like a particular teacher at Sylvan, there is no gaurantee that you will get the same teacher the next session.

    Sylvan is selling you the Sylvan Method, not the teaching staff. The Sylvan system is somewhat individualized, and somewhat nonindividualized. For example, after the assessment Sylvan will put together a curriculum to fill in your son's "skill gaps." But this curriculum may not necessarily correspond with what your son is taking in school.

    So, if you want to help your son with what he is learning in school, just find a teacher who specializes in the area he is struggling in and hire that person as a private tutor. If you want a general "catching up," the Sylvan system might help.

  104. Dear JJW,

    Please visit Aleks.com. You said you were willing to tutor him yourself. This is exactly what I did. I went to this website, it gave him a comprehensive assessment, showed us where the gaps were in his learning, and we sat down together to read the explanations and learn the math. We are now beginning Algebra. You can choose what you want to do--I think it even goes to Calculus and Statistics. I believe they have a 48 hour trial period. I think you will know right away after the assessment and you try a few problems. I was sold immediately. I have used this for struggling students as well as gifted students (I am a teacher). Good Luck. It is much cheaper than a tutor and it was good to spend time with my son as well as brush up on my math.

  105. :mad: Huntington underpays its staff-$7.50 to start-and that's with a masters degree and 20 yrs experience. Staff just records and pushes paper each session--no motivation or visual aids to interest students. One-one means crowding a dozen kids in a small room at a stark table where the child is tested and retested. Some kids complained of stomach aches every session, and others kept asking when they could go home. If the child finished his work ahead of time, he was rewarded--with MORE WORK!! Rip-off city all around!! Teachers are addressed by their first names, and most kids do not bother to learn the teachers' names.

    Hire a private tutor!

  106. Private tutors will give your child the attention and experience he deserves. Learning Centers exploit their staff and the parents--not to mention the students. Pay a certified teacher $25 or more per hour--it's worth it!!

  107. Owners of these "centers" are clever business sharks who manipulate the overly-saturated teacher market. They pay insultingly low hourly rates, provide less than 10 hours of work and have no respect for their staff. When I called to tell of a death in my family, I was told that I would have to find a substitute and quickly!

    No condolences were offered. This shows the type of people who run these outfits. The mighty dollar is all that matters.

  108. Sylvan sells franchises...so does Burger King and McDonald's

    Sylvan advertises with deception, the same as most corporations

    Sylvan overcharges, keeps 80% and the rest 'trickles down' to staff.

    Sylvan's emails have grammatical and spelling errors. What does that tell you?

    Sylvan should be a new listing in the "Hoax Enclyclopedia."

    Stick with public schools or credentialed, professional tutors.

  109. As a Sylvan employee, I agree wholeheartedly---A mere $9/hr (at my branch) for a teacher with a bachelor's and possibly master's degree. It's particularly ridiculous when considering that Sylvan does NOT adequately assess each child's individual needs but assigns them pre-determined "prescriptions" according to their test scores. It mostly amounts to, as you said, workbook pages. Also, in reference to this comment:
    "If you want to compain about pay look at the pay and wages of a U.S. Airmen, Soldier, Marine, and Sailor. They fight for our country and they make $7.00 an hour. Enough said."
    My husband IS an active-duty airman. Hmph. I guess our family gets the short end of the stick all around!

  110. I am currently applying to Sylvan. I am a certified teacher. Sub teachers in my state earn 40 to 50 dollars a day and there is a ton of competition even for daily sub jobs (sit by the phone and wait). I know Sylvan pays 10 an hour! Big money here. Most jobs pay federal minimum wage of 5.15 an hour. The Sylvan job will look good on my resume and pays more than subbing or paraprofessional jobs with the local school systems! I will love the job!

  111. I came to this website to get some idea about the issues, problems and challenges of becoming a Sylvan franchisee. All of the comments are very interesting and apparently quite sincere. Several things occurred to me as I read many, but not all of the posts.

    1. Of course it is a business. Why else would someone like me want to invest a lot of money to set up a center, take the risk of signing a lease, hire staff, buy furniture, etc.? I don't think a school district will subsidize my very personal risk.

    2. My interest, probably like many others who already own a franchise, would be to do something good for children while, yes, earning a profit. What is wrong I ask about getting rewarded for taking a very significant personal risk, which the teachers do not have to take, to do something that is needed?

    3. Two of my children went to Sylvan for a year each and both benefited from the skills assessments and more focused teaching. We learned that my son, whom we always thought was smart but not demonstrating it, had a vocabulary far beyond what the teacher expected for his age. That feedback bolstered his confidence and self-esteem immensely. It was, I think, very rewarding for his teacher to see the change in his ability to write and use his excellent vocabulary more effectively.

    4. Teachers are indeed very important people in our society, which is one reason that I find this business intriguing. However if we are honest, the gaps between the best and the worst are horrific. In some occupations rewards go preferentially to those who consistently produce results. Who favors paying members of his/her favorite pro team the same pay base on years in the league as schools do?

    5. Our educational system has lost perspective and no longer strives to be the best in the world. I have lived 10 years outside the US and sadly we are not the best. Our kids would struggle badly with the same curriculum standards that exist in most of Europe, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore among others. I don't intend to be offensive, but many teachers would not be qualified to teach the typical higher level classes in those countries. I agree with several of the comments that Sylvan should not exist. But it does, because the school systems are not meeting the needs of a lot of students. I was encouraged to read that some dedicated educators get satisfaction from being able to make more progress with just a few students.

    6. If cost relative to teachers' pay is the issue, consider these numbers. In our school district the average cost per student is $16,000+ per year. If the cost in elementary school is $12,000 per year then the district (read taxpayers) pays $300,000 per year for a class of 25 students. If an experienced teacher gets paid $50,000 per year and gets total benefits worth $15,000 per year the total compensation is ~22% of the total cost. Private sector Class A office space costs roughly $24-36 per square foot with miscellaneous expenses. With a large 2,000 sq. ft. classroom and another 2,000 sq. ft. of shared space, students use a maximum of $144,000 per year of facility costs. (Bear in mind that schools are typically not class A and benefit from tax-free interest financing.) Where does the rest of the money go? Books? New furniture? I wonder how many teachers, if given a chance, would take $250,000 per year and agree to pay for the building space, the books, etc.? If they did I think they would be very well paid. A local private school gets better results (measured by test scores and % of graduates getting acceptances at top colleges and universities) on two-thirds the total cost. A neighbor's child advanced 3 years in the public school system after two years there. Why should that be? I think the system inhibits and restrains teachers from achieving their best with students.

    7. I would want to find a way to pay the best teachers the most if I did buy a franchise. But would teachers want that? I once volunteered to serve for 5 years on the board of a self-supporting international school. Even the outstanding teachers rejected the idea of being paid on any basis other than years of experience and degree level and graduate school credits. But as one education lecturer said to a group of teachers, "Do you really have 20 years of experience, or 1 year of experience repeated 20 times?"

    Thank you for taking the time to read this. I'd appreciate candid feedback.

  112. I have worked for Sylvan Learning Center for 17+ years on a part-time basis. The people with whom I work are warm, caring, loving people. It feels like a family! When my daughter graduated from high school, they all came to her graduation party. When my mom died, many attended her funeral. When our original owner died, we all grieved.
    Yes, we are there to make money; what business isn't? But we are a business whose function and desire is to help students succeed and we rejoice in that success. It causes us frustration when students don't succeed! Students' success/failure depends on MANY factors. Factors include parenting, sibling relationships, frequent moving, ability to focus, relationships with peers/teachers, learning styles, etc. Because of those factors, Sylvan is not for every student needing supplemental education, but I've seen it work for MANY!
    Regarding the pay...yes, it's not all that high, but I love working there, love the hours, and love the kids! If it doesn't fit your needs, perhaps you should work somewhere else.

  113. I too have had frustrations for 10 years with finding tutors. Our experience with Sylvan has been better than most of the private arrangements I have used. They at least have a recipe and all the instructors/teachers follow it and communicate - some private tutors have their own plan which is not always in synch with school and they are not always good at communicating. Although I was frustrated with the constant assessments, I think they did help focus on needs. I also got frustrated with the rules for makeups/schedules, etc - I felt pushed to buy more hours and come more often than necessary. I would like to see the teachers earn a living wage or maybe get paid for 3 hours when they have 3 students for an hour - this seems fair since each parent pays the same per hour whether we have 1:1 or 3:1 ratios. If anyone knows how to locate a qualified tutor with a known track record I am game. The school district doesn't know how to hire qualified teachers and they cover for each other when you ask one to recommend another for tutoring-I been burned hiring the "best" reading tutor in the district. Is there a place to go in Texas to find our how private tutors rate? We need junior English - I hope we will be OK in Math after 150 hours at Sylvan - I appreciate that I have recourse at Sylvan if a teacher does not meet my expectations - with my old arrangement my recourse was to fire the tutor and start my search again to find a new arrangement.

  114. There are things more important in life than money, either a parent's money or a teacher's salary. My child struggled with reading in a way that was too painful for me to watch. We would spend hours each night at the counter crying -together-over homework that he couldn't read or write. We received no help from the school and in fact, were told that we should be proud of our son's coping skills.

    After attending Sylvan for a total of 105 hours, Connor was reading at a level we had only dreamed of. His instructors were wonderful. The director outstanding. The money expensive.

    I would have paid twice as much as we did to see the successes Sylvan brought to my child. They are countless (he won an essay contest and read it out loud on the air and in front of the school to name just one.) As the credit card slogan goes, "there are some things money can't buy."

    As a parent, a few thousand dollars toward your child's education is the best money you can spend. Better than your cigarrettes or beer, better than your tall latte mochachino, better than the video game rentals and fast food dinners.

    Quite honestly, it was the best money I have ever spent.

    As for the teachers complaining about the compensation- I am thankful my son didn't have any of you. His instructors were dedicated, helpful and loving. The director was one of a kind. Even the owner has been involved in our lives- calling to ask about our experiences. Like any business, there are good owners, managers and employees. One bad experience does not determine the entire franchise or the fit for other teachers or families.

    Research your options, pay attention to your child's needs and above all, discuss issues when they are small rather than waiting for a blow out. You are in control, use it to help your child. At our first meeting, we were told to let them know who our child liked for teachers and if there were any he didn't like working with so they could better match them.

    Good luck to all- teachers and parents alike. I wouldn't change a minute of our 105 hours at Sylvan. I hope you find the same to be true for your family.

  115. To Quote Judy,"As for the teachers complaining about the compensation- I am thankful my son didn't have any of you. His instructors were dedicated, helpful and loving."

    I am one who has complained about the lack of compensation. I still work there. I still work hard and have worked FOR FREE many hours over the last 3 years. if that isn't "dedication" I don't know what is! Do not confuse our complaints over poor pay with lack of dedication and concern for our students.

    I am glad to hear your son got the help he needed and deserved. Just think, all that effort on the teachers part got her/him 10 bucks an hour( and more than likely with three students at the table at the same time)

  116. Jody said on August 9, 2007:

    There are things more important in life than money, either a parent's money or a teacher's salary.

    As for the teachers complaining about the compensation- I am thankful my son didn't have any of you. His instructors were dedicated, helpful and loving.

    1. It's easy to say there are more important things than the teacher's salary when you aren't the teacher.

    I was not offered medical coverage while working for Sylvan and had a brief stay in the hospital. As one might guess, the hospital billing department wasn't remotely interested in how dedicated I was. Teachers have to live, too.

    2. Dedication is not measured by one's willingness to accept substandard pay or treatment. Certainly, we can all recognize that a doctor is not less dedicated because he/she charges more for services than a manicurist. A teacher, like a doctor, is a professional who has invested in education and needs to make a living wage.

    3. I'm glad your son was helped by Sylvan; however, I'm disappointed that you are not remotely bothered that his "wonderful" teachers were not paid what they were worth, and that you seem to think that's just fine.

    To each his own, I suppose.

  117. Wow, I was surprised with all the resposes from professionals with spelling and grammar errors. I am a senior in college going for a teaching degree, and even I know that it takes all methods to teach students. Let the parents make the decision. Let the teachers who choose to work for Sylvan work there. If money is tight a private tutor would probably be more economical. But, they will obviously not have the battery of identifying tests that Sylvan has. However, if they know teaching methods and care, they will probably increase the student's abilities. Still, I have a friend with a son who won't work for those he knows one-on-one, it takes competition with others. The point I am making is that there is no absolute right and wrong with teaching students, as long as their human rights are respected and the material is presented in a way in which they can respond.

  118. While the prices are a little steep, I felt that they helped my daughter a lot.

    My daughter was falling behind in school, because the teachers have to focus too much time on kids that don't speak English. They just expect the English speaker to be able to read the material and figure it out.

    The teachers were suggesting the we put our daughter in a special program that was going to be more expensive than Sylvan and would probably not help her on the level that Sylvan did.

    Not many teachers are willing to tutor after hours, as many of them are at school working on other tasks, long after the students go home.

    Sylvan took great care of my daughter and brought her above grade level on all subjects. We were given the opportunity to review all tests. The elementary school also tested my daughter and their tests showed the same grade point level.

    Now that we have moved to a better school district, the teachers are actually able to work with their English speaking students and keep all of them at or above grade level.

  119. D said on May 28, 2007:

    I have been thinking about purchasing a Sylvan Franchise, and was trying to do some research about the company when I came upon this blog.This was by far the best research based on other people's opinions and experiences. Thank you for being candid and thank you for sharing. Now I can make my decision.

    I am thinking of buying a franchise as well. Did you find any more websites that helped you with your decision. If possible I would like to speak with you.

  120. I think you are missing the point. Have you ever tutored privately? Obviously not, the biggest challenge is to try and figure out what the problem is as you work with the student. Then you have to find materials that address the problem areas. This will soak up a whole lot of time that you are charging those poor parents for. Sylvan identifies the weaknesses from the initial skill assessment. Obviously you have no experience with Sylvan or you would know that Sylvan is absolutely not worksheet based. If you did work for Sylvan you probably chose to teach the skills that way. I have no doubt that if you are a classroom teacher you probably manage your classsroom the same way...that's called busy work.

  121. I have been a CD for Huntington Learninng Center for a year now and am sorry for those who did not have their children reach the goals set for them regardless of the learning center. I meet parents every day who cannot afford programs here and it breaks my heart because the children desperately need help. The majority of students that come in for testing are 2 to 3 years behind in skills. Many high school students cannot multiply fractions!! Our center has been here for two years now and has only broke even financially twice! We give many discounts to the military and wherever possible so that families can afford it! We are not about money, although we have to make a certain amount to stay in business. The owner is a retired teacher and the Director of Education is a retired principal, we care so much about the success of the individual student. Our teachers are wonderful and make between 10-13 per hour, have no extra work to do, quiet rooms, well-behaved students and develop wonderful relationships with the students. I thank my lucky stars every day for my wonderful staff. For all of you parents searching for help, I hope you find it however you do and your child achieves academically.

  122. You sound like a different sort of administrator than the ones I worked for. I was paid $7.50/hr with a .25 raise after six months. The maximum amount of hours anyone could have was eight. We were told what to say, how to say it, where to sit, what to write. We were not allowed to use a sense of humor--for those few of us who had one--and we were not to fraternize with the other staff. The program was all that mattered--if the child was crying or cold or not feeling good, these two oafs did not care. ( oafs, meaning the director and the ass.* director).
    *not a typo--this cretin was a jackass.

    I have a masters degree with over 25 years teaching experience, and Huntington was the worse place I have ever worked--there was no incentive, no respect from the staff or the clients. We had to adhere to a strict dress code--like the old fashioned parochial schools use to enforce, but the children could wear whatever they wanted. They could call us by our first names, but most of them never bothered to even learn our names.

  123. lucy said on August 27, 2007:

    I think you are missing the point. Have you ever tutored privately? Obviously not, the biggest challenge is to try and figure out what the problem is as you work with the student. Then you have to find materials that address the problem areas. This will soak up a whole lot of time that you are charging those poor parents for. Sylvan identifies the weaknesses from the initial skill assessment. Obviously you have no experience with Sylvan or you would know that Sylvan is absolutely not worksheet based. If you did work for Sylvan you probably chose to teach the skills that way. I have no doubt that if you are a classroom teacher you probably manage your classsroom the same way...that's called busy work.

    You sound like a different sort of administrator than the ones I worked for. I was paid $7.50/hr with a .25 raise after six months. The maximum amount of hours anyone could have was eight. We were told what to say, how to say it, where to sit, what to write. We were not allowed to use a sense of humor--for those few of us who had one--and we were not to fraternize with the other staff. The program was all that mattered--if the child was crying or cold or not feeling good, these two oafs did not care. ( oafs, meaning the director and the ass.* director).
    *not a typo--this cretin was a jackass.

    I have a masters degree with over 25 years teaching experience, and Huntington was the worse place I have ever worked--there was no incentive, no respect from the staff or the clients. We had to adhere to a strict dress code--like the old fashioned parochial schools use to enforce, but the children could wear whatever they wanted. They could call us by our first names, but most of them never bothered to even learn our names.

  124. Lucy,
    Your comments are insulting and totally out of line. I never used busy work when I was a full time teacher. I believe in motivating my students and involving them in the lessons I teach--this was not allowed at the center where I worked (not Sylvan--but another well-known one). Furthermore, your remarks about compensation are way off base. Consider this: a dishwasher makes $8/hr., and the center where I worked pays certified professionals $7.50. Even you must see the injustice in that. No professional would be pleased with that meager wage. Would you???

    I am a caring teacher who was totally disappointed in my "learning center" experience. The owners care more about putting money in their stingy hands than giving staff any incentive. They push the children to finish their prescribed program, and then they are eager for the next batch of kids. They deal in volume not quality.

    Your remarks reflect your ignorance of the situation. Would you work for $7.50? I doubt it. I spent a great deal of time and money to earn my degrees, and I deserve much better whether you understand or not.

  125. Lucy-I forgot to mention that I have tutored privately and I have also done in-home instruction. It was very rewarding; the children's grades improved, and I was praised by their parents--so I think you are--again--way off base with your comments.

    The children received excellent instruction, and I was worth every penny I earned. My ESL students also improved, and my boss was very pleased with me.

    You really don't know too much about teachers and tutors, do you?

  126. MEP,

    First off, this discussion is about Sylvan, not Huntington. You cannot say that one is the same as the other, as they are not.

    Second, your salary information does not specify how long ago this was. Time makes a difference in pay levels.

    You are clearly comparing apples to oranges.

    I know that we sat down with peopl at both huntington and Sylvan. After long discussions with both, we felt that Sylvan could better help our daughter.

    I know that teachers are not paid well. That tells me that they do it for the joy of teaching. If you are so concerned about pay, instead of the joy of teaching, maybe you should consider a different line of work.

  127. Eddie said on September 2, 2007:

    After long discussions with both, we felt that Sylvan could better help our daughter.

    I know that teachers are not paid well. That tells me that they do it for the joy of teaching. If you are so concerned about pay, instead of the joy of teaching, maybe you should consider a different line of work.

    No one takes a 50% cut in the average salary, just for the joy of doing the job -- not when he/she could work elsewhere and experience that same joy at an appropriate salary. Especially not a teacher who makes so little to begin with that they're looking for work outside of school to earn income on the side.

    When I hired teachers to work at Sylvan, nearly every one of them worked for a school and acknowledged that they came to Sylvan primarily for supplemental income -- and for that reason, many of them walked out of interviews when I told them what we could pay them.

    That is precisely why many people here have commented about the turnover at Sylvan -- lots of teachers take the job until something better comes along because they just can't afford to work there.

    That does not make a teacher "less dedicated"; it simply makes him/her responsible.

  128. As an owner of a center let me just say this: just as teachers don't like to be lumped together and generalized, neither do owners of learning centers. I did not open a learning center to "get rich." Make a living, yes, but I am not in this to buy a mansion/Mercedes/horse/island...etc. I opened a learning center so I could contribute to the community and feel good about what I do every night. I would love to pay my teachers more. As it is, ALL of my teachers make between $12-$20/hour. I do have teachers leave the interview saying it's not enough. I don't begrudge them for their opinion. I also have teachers who said to me, "This was the best summer job! I loved working here!"

    To all of the parents out there: do what is right for your family. I know that there are quality teachers out there that do private tutoring. I know because some of them come to me looking for a job. They don't like going into strange homes, being left alone with students sometimes bigger than they are or parents cancelling at the last minute or just not showing up at all.

    I am also aware that there are subpar teachers that do private tutoring as well. I know because the parents come to me saying their child has had a private tutor since Kindergarten and he is going to be held back in the 3rd grade for not passing the NCLB mandated standardized test. Four years of private tutoring!

    My teachers are informed from the beginning that this is a part time job. My pay scale is higher than most, but my conscience would not let me pay certified teachers less than I pay my high school aged babysitter ($8-$10/hour). These days it hardly covers gas. We train them. We do have mandatory staff meetings, but we pay them for coming and we feed them. Their hours are flexible and there is very little prep time. They can dress at the center how they dress at school. All we ask is no shorts or sweats, ratty clothes, flipflops, etc.

    We do care if the students are cold (I have seen teachers give sweaters to students while we tried to warm up the room). We do care if they are crying.

    I'm just saying that I resent being called an insensitive, greedy *&%^#@* because I own a learning center.

  129. I've been thinking about finding a tutor (or Sylvan) to help my 2nd grader son with his reading. I'm very discouraged at this point. I don't want to blindly hire a tutor without at least a good reference from another parent. His teachers don't offer any help, they just tell me to keep reading with him and go over sight words. Fortunately, he likes to read and we have been spending an hour or so every day reading and going over sight words. I have seen mild improvement, but I know there are probably things I could be doing with him to speed up the process. What resources could I turn to for help in tutoring him myself? Any Phonics type programs or tools, computer programs, etc. Techniques I could use? Would Sylvan be able to help with this? I can't afford another "mortgage payment"!!!! I'm willing to do this myself, I just don't know the best way to go about it!

  130. Tracy-- :razz:

    Can you obtain a copy of your child's text? There should be a list of words at the back of the book. If not, does the teacher give vocabulary lists? If you answered yes to either of these queries, here's what you could do to help your son: make flash cards from the list. Go over these every day with your son until he recognizes the words immediately. Next, have him compose a sentence using each word. He can do this orally and in writing. Keep a notebook with these sentences, and keep reviewing them. If he does well with this, it'll improve his reading and give him confidence.

    Also, some districts provide after school instruction--free of charge. The classroom teachers stay an hour or so after school to help small groups of students. This would help your son if it's availaable.

    If you provide your zip code, maybe I can be of further assistance.

  131. Eddie,

    Would you expect a doctor or a lawyer or any professional to work for insultingly low wages? Any professional deserves a decent amount of pay. Much is expected in these centers, and without any incentive, morale tends to be low and turnover high. Seventy-five percent of the people I started working with left within one year. I didn't enter teaching to become rich, but low pay indicates a lack of respect which was very evident at the center where I worked. Maybe Sylvan is better. Maybe the place where I worked is unusually bad. Who knows? I am just telling you how it was, and I still think a private tutor is the better choice. He or she can provide individualized instruction. The parent can supervise-or not. In some cases, the tutor can contact the classroom teacher because the teacher has been working with the child, and can provide some insight in regard to methods which might help the child. I tutored privately, and the results were always very good.

    Anyway, if the learning center works for your child--great!! But I think these centers take advantage of the overly-saturated teaching market which has produced a surplus of qualified teachers who will take any teaching position. That is why I took the job--but it was an awful choice for me. I could not use any of my prior teaching background--no motivation, no visual aides , no games. We had to stick to "the program"and we had to ask the students--every session-how "the program" would help them in school. We were given a list of acceptable answers by the director. We had to write these on index cards. They did this because the crap they were pushing was so far removed from actual schoolwork, that they had to make it seem like it was viable.

  132. The education director at this Sylvan worked closely with us and my daughters school teacher.

    Along with the program, they reviewed her classwork to help target her weak areas in class.

    As a parent, it was a gret experience and a great help to our daughter.

  133. MEP,

    Thank you for your suggestions. I will do exactly what you said!

    I think they use "Open Court Reading" program. I'll get the book and even see if they have anything on the internet. We've been using flashcards for the top 110 Dolch sightwords. I've made cards and we play "Go Fish for the Sightwords" That seems to be slowly helping.

    He goes to a very good private school. Unfortunately they offer no extra tutoring. The kids are expected to keep up, if not - it's up to the parents to get students extra help.

    My zip-code is 31410. Thanks again for your help!!

    Tracy

  134. Tracy, :lol: :smile:

    I am so glad I could help! I have another suggestion. The public schools where I use to sub use a"word wall" to motivate the children. This is used in the primary grades-K and 1--I am not so sure about grade 2, but I think your son would like it. What you do is create a set of words for each of the vowel sounds-short and long vowels. Then create a short list of words which would fall into each category. For instance: short a--cat, bat, sat. nap, etc. Since your son is in second grade, you could think of words that are more challenging. Go over the list with your son. Then , put the words vertically on a wall or a magnetic board. You could put them on the refrigerator with magnets if you don't have wall space. Say the word, and have your son point it out. Add to the list every day. Let him think of words that fall into each category. You can expand on this in many ways. He could think of a story for each list-or a short poem. He could draw pictures to go along with the words he creates. I think he would enjoy it. I know the students I worked with always looked forward to this. It was part of their morning routine, and I really think his reading will improve.

    Re: your zip code--I was hoping you lived near me, but my zip is 14221. Anyway, let me know how things are going, and I will think of some other motivational techniques if you need them.

  135. Hi,

    Great discussion! Learning centers and private are both needed and the customer obviously asks for both. Private tutors are great but it takes an unbelievable tutor to do diagnostic and go buy materials for that hour lesson. I taught an esl student 1 hour a week for a year and she did great on that HW but her grades did not go up. She need foundation skills that a learning center can provide. Us private tutors are great for close to grade level and above grade level students. If below grade level was so easy , there would be NCLB issue in America. They are both necessary.

  136. :smile: Billy, I too have worked with ESL students at the high school and college level. In my expereince, they are highly motivated and most were excellent students in their native language. My responsibilities were to acclimate them to the nuances of English, explain directions and help them understand our culture. They were not required to take diagnostic tests. I currently help a Korean master's candidate with her papers. I correct her grammar and syntax--the content is always very good, it's her English useage that needs correction. She did very well on her final paper after I had corrected it, so I must be doing it right! :roll: :razz: :grin:

  137. By the way--for those who have put me down for wanting money, this is a Volunteer Job!!! :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :twisted: :shock: :smile:

  138. My problem with ESL students is that they take away from the learning experience of the kids that speak the language. ESL kids should be given a verbal and written test to determine if they are right for the grade that they are entering or if they should be held back a year and take and ESL class to bring them up to speed.

    Why should 20 english speaking students not get the education that they deserve, because the teacher must spend the entire day giving specialized attention to the 5 mexicans that speak very little (if any) english?

  139. Eddie,

    In my experience, the scenario you are describing did not exist. I assume you live in a border state where there are more Spanish-speaking students. The ones I worked with were from Asia and Europe; I only worked with two Spanish-speaking students--one from Mexico and the other from Columbia.

    Anyway, the teachers did not go out of their way for them at all. I am a certified teacher, but I worked as an ESL aide. My job was to attend every class with the ESL kids, help them take notes, explain what was going on in their classes and do follow-up instruction in the ESL room after their classes. I also helped them start their homework and accompanied them to the library to help with research. These students were way above average in math and science, but had difficulty with English and Global History. If they had questions that I couldn't explain, I would go to the teacher after class--not interrupting instruction in any way.

    These students were regarded as Special Ed pupils: they had IEP reports, and they had to have an aide accompany them to all their classes. I felt bad about this because not one of them was a special needs student, but that is how the district regarded them. Most of the teachers paid hardly any attention to them at all. It was my responsibility to teach them. I found it rewarding, and my kids did very well. The disruption you described just never happened at all.

  140. Nope. VA is not a border state. We just have a rather high population of mexicans. The schools that my kids were in, used to be the top schools in the state of Virginia. Now those schools are about average.

    It got so bad, that my ex finally sold her house and moved into a rather expensive area, so the kids could begin getting the education that they deserve.

    Our schools have to meet the Virginia SOLs. If a school doesn't meet the Virginia SOL requirements they begin funding cuts to the school.

    The poorest performers on our SOLs are ESL students. The majority of the ESL students are mexican. So, the teachers have been directed to give the ESL students specialized instruction. Then they just expect the other students to get what little instruction they have been provided.

    It's pretty bad when you go to 'open house' and run into these kids and their parents. The kid speaks broken english and they are having to translate, as their parents don't speak a word of english.

  141. That's unfortunate. It doesn't happen where I live, but then our taxes are very high--I guess that's a good thing. Even in the elementary grades where I subbed for four years, the ESL children did not appear to be a priority. They were the best behaved, most attentive and hardest working kids in the class. If they had a problem, their aide would help, or the aide would ask me when I had a spare moment. I don't understand how VA can be so different. The teacher's plans left no special instructions for the ESL students other than to let me know that they were in the class and their aide would be sitting next to them. :grin:

  142. These kids do not have an aide. It's all up to the teacher and their volunteer teacher's aide.

    When my daughter was in second grade, one child in her class did not speak a word of English. The teacher and her aide did not speak a word of Spanish. Another Mexican girl was fluent in both languages, so she became the interpreter.

    This is a situation where the system has failed. The one child should not have been in a regular class, if she could not speak a word of English. She clearly should have been in an ESL class to teach her (and her parents) English. That won't happen as we are too politically correct.

  143. Was this a public or a private school? The other student should not have been taking the adult's role as an interpreter.

  144. MEP said on September 10, 2007:

    Was this a public or a private school? The other student should not have been taking the adult's role as an interpreter.

    This discussion has wandered far away from the original subject. Further off-topic comments will not be tolerated. Scroll all the way to the top, read the original topic, and if you have something to say, do so. Otherwise, kindly wander off and find a new place to talk about ESL. This isn't the place.

  145. [...] Sylvan Learning Center Rips off Teachers (144 comments, the later half of which has veered greatly from the original post's topic) [...]

  146. Wow.....I just spent about an hour or so reading all the posts on this string.....and I feel compelled to post. I am not an educator but simply a parent who has a child that recently started with a Sylvan Center in San Diego. I feel confident that the program will help my son who has severe reading comprehension problems; otherwise I wouldn't have ponied up the $7,000. To be quite honest I know that, if nothing else, Sylvan is a business....but their business is teaching children. I guess I already knew going into it (and this belief has been re-affirmed by many of your postings) that the curriculum is pretty much predetermined and that I was buying into the program.

    However, I did not realize that the teachers were getting that small percentage of the hourly cost. Not being an educator, I can not fully appreciate the fact of a "teacher surplus" (something that was mentioned in an earlier post).....but as a father of 5 children, I do understand that we all have to "live".

    My first question (again as an outside looking in) is how many of the Sylvan teachers are actually using this particular job as a primary means of living? It seems to me that (other than perhaps a "Director's" position) this type of employment could only ever be seen as a second job......to what is most likely, an already low paying teaching job at a local school district.

    Secondly, (with no disrespect intended by any means) how much of your "teaching credentials" are actually used in the instruction of this predetermined program? Is it more so the fact that your immense teaching experience helps to better convey the material or is it simply for the center to parade around the fact that their teachers are certified?

    Thirdly, during my interview with the Center Director (who does have a Masters in Education, thankfully) I did ask if the same teacher would be providing the instruction to my son throughout the program. And, with some reluctance, she did mention that the teacher would change, but that they all teach from the same curriculum.

    ELIZABETH, can you answer the following quesiton.......Do you think that changing teachers in that manner would in any way jeopardize most children's ability to truly complete the program effectively?

    Lastly, I have been an enlisted member of the United States Marine Corps for more than 12 years. There were a few postings earlier about enlisted servicemembers making $7 an hour. That is a complete falicy, probably similar to that of public school teachers making that same wage. In fact, entry level service members make about $12 an hour. To be completely honest I take home about $33 an hour. Some might still consider this low as I have deployed to Iraq three times.

    Thank you to all the teachers who care.....for without you and the dreams you help our children attain, they may very well be lost in the mediocrity that plagues our society.

  147. I stumbled across this site because I just got a job with Sylvan learning center. I have been teaching for 3 years, and I've had a few part time jobs at restaurants and other various places since I started working my career, but I really don't enjoy doing that kind of work. I figure that tutoring is (at least in theory) a part-time job that is related to what I went to college for.

    I didn't know much about Sylvan before I applied, and to be honest, I didn't know very much about it even after a brief interview and getting hired. There are a million things that have been raised throughout the posts that I've skimmed pretty well. I'll try to stick to the original topic, if I can.

    I guess the original point has something to do with the fact that Sylvan is a business, in it to make money. And, as even the opponents of this idea will admit to, that is an undeniable fact any time any business is opened. Hopefully the money is being made, while at the same time accomplishing a goal. I would hope that people who open a particular business, do so with a certain "passion" for whatever it is that the business offers. I don't think there are lots of people sitting around, opening business in totally random fields, based upon which type of business will be the most lucrative for them. Maybe the people who open up tutoring centers (maybe even Sylvan Learning Centers?) have a genuine interest in helping children learn.

    On the same note, the notion of hiring a private tutor for $15-$25 per hour, and saving money while paying the individual teacher a higher salary, it sounds nice. But I guess my question would be, why don't we just do that with everything? We could go to a farmer to buy all of our vegetables, and pay less, pay him more than the supermarkets do, and eat fresher food to top it all off. The evil supermarkets would go out of business and the world would be a better place. We could all buy our own fabric and sew our own clothes. The people at the Gap wouldn't get the crazy markup that they usually get. I won't go on with my ridiculous examples. The point is, pretty much everything in our society is a business. There are many, many "middle-man" kind of businesses that offer a product or service. And that middle-man needs to be paid. But everyone does it. We all participate in this system, and why? Maybe it's convenience, maybe it's laziness, maybe it's just a sense of complacency that since we aren't going to be able to change the way our economy works, that we have no other choice but to comply? Whatever it is, as another person (whose name I'm too lazy to scroll up to find) said, if people are willing to pay the going rate (and if teachers are willing to accept the going salary), then I guess the system works just fine.

    The other main thing that I wanted to talk about (which I swear I think is related to the main topic as well...) is teachers' salaries. (And a side note about a comment I read a little while ago, in most jobs that I know of anyway, your salary increases with seniority. Teaching is not the only profession with this concept. Pro sports is one of the only counter-examples, and it's fair to at least mention that pro sports is unique enough of a profession that we need not compare it to any other professions, especially where salary is concerned.)

    Anyway, I went into teaching for "noble" reasons. I just have always liked to see that look on someone's face when they finally "get" something. I like the feeling that I am helping someone, and helping them learn something that will be useful throughout the rest of their lives. You know, the whole "teach a man to fish" thing. I knew full well that going into education meant that I wasn't going to drive a fancy car, have a big ol' mansion, or be vacationing in the bahamas or anything like that. I'm okay with that. (My grandma wasn't all that okay with it: I was the "smart" kid in the family growing up, and I was supposed to be a "doctor or a lawyer or something" and make all the money...anyway...) I also am well aware that teaching has it's "perks." The summer off, and a few weeks of prime vacation time during the rest of the year, not being the least of these perks.

    But... I also, as another poster said, need to "live." Most people who go to college for 4 or 5 years and get a degree and go into the profession that they have been preparing for, do not need to look for at least one (and maybe two) part time job in order to afford their rent and other expenses. But I do, so I am. I have worked in restaurants, and I did so strictly for the money. Not because I love bringing people diet cokes and salads and wearing a plastic name tag on my polo shirt. I am applying to Sylvan for pretty much the same reason: I need money. Believe me, you have no idea how much I wish I didn't need to work a second job. I mean, it's not as if I don't have anything else that I need to for my full-time teaching job, after school hours. I put in many extra hours both at school, and after school at home, and during pretty much every weekend. Does that mean I won't still enjoy doing my job of teaching these kids that I'll be tutoring? I sure hope that I'll find some enjoyment in what I'll be doing. It'll help make the small, supplemental paychecks that I get not seem so...well, small.

    I guess that leads me to my final thought on the subject. Most of the teachers that I know (except the ones whose husbands are rich and they don't even need to work a job at all...) have a second job. Some, a third job. But they apparently love teaching, so they continue to make the other sacrifices to do so. But...many people, who would make great teachers, and who would probably otherwise choose to go into teaching, decide to go into some other, higher-paying profession. Then, the teachers who do decide that it's still worth it, they have to work at least one other job, meaning that they have a little less time to grade papers, make good lesson plans, spend time thinking about their students' progress, and are generally not very well-rested, making the job that they do as a teacher be...well, not what it could be. Then you have schools that are failing and kids who are not learning what they would normally be able to learn from good teachers, who are not driven into other professions, and who are not skimping time on planning to work their second job. Then you have people deciding to open up high-priced supplemental tutoring centers, and hiring the same people who are already overworked and underpaid to help teach what they weren't able to teach the first time around. Then you have legislation that is put into effect that takes money away from schools and teachers when this unevitably takes place (and, not surprisingly, at a much higher rate in poorer areas.) But I digress...

    This cycle that I have just described, is going to continue until something changes. Is that something going to be that Sylvan Learning Center comes and saves the day? That their $10/hour teachers who are working a second job are going to get through to the kids in such a way that everyone instantly jumps up to where they ought to be, and that, by word of mouth of this miraculous center, all kids who are even the slightest bit behind their prescibed level, will go there and the entire ship will right itself? Not likely. Is it going to be that people get together and demand that teachers are paid a higher wage? That they go though more rigorous training so that not "just anyone" can become a teacher, but that once they do become one, they will have no doubt that they will be able to live comfortably for the rest of their lives without worrying about getting a second job? That maybe to compensate for the high salary, they be required to teach some classes or attend further training during the summer, so that they aren't getting so many "weeks off"? Also, not likely. But we can change things, right? That's how this country got here, some people didn't like the way things were, and they built their own country and made their own rules. By the people, and so on and so forth. But will we ever change it? Will we continue to hear more stories about how much money pro athletes get paid, or what Lindsay Lohan was arrested for, rather than people being concerned about how well our teachers, or our policemen, or our soldiers are paid? Will we just stick by the status quo because it's more convenient, or because we're lazy, or because we figure that the system is not going to change so we might as well comply? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

  148. I found this website while looking for some information to try to help my daughter, a 16 year old junior in public high school.
    If any of you educators (currently with Sylvan or not) can give me some ideas on what to do, please help.
    She has always been an average student, just average, I think she suffers from test anxiety and has a problem retaining what she reads, or not really "getting it". She can read a page in a book, and if you ask her 10 minutes later what it was about, she can give you just a brief idea of what it was.
    I don't think she has a learning disability, per se, as she's always gotten A's and B's, and in the last couple of years (high school) it's been more B's and C's with the occasional A's, and now we're seeing D's and F's on some assignments and tests (along with A's, B's and C's). And frankly, it's not just her, it's sometimes a quarter of the class that will fail a test or quiz, and the information is not re-taught, it's just "move on to the next chapter". So I blame a lot of it on the education she's been getting....not one of her teachers has ever questioned her about a poor grade; it's almost like they don't even care.
    Last night she was in tears when I asked her about her grades and she said she has trouble concentrating when the teacher is talking, or when reading in the book, and that she's trying hard. She doesn't spend hours studying, though, and I wonder if constructive study would help (of course it would, but does everyone have study skills? I just don't know).
    Unfortunately, my financial resources are not unlimited, so I truly want to help my daughter and put my money to use in the way that will serve her most efficiently. I honestly cannot afford to "try" a bunch of different things and throw money away. More importantly, I want her to enjoy school and get an education that will prepare her for college.
    I'm not asking for a "diagnosis", but I've read all of the prior comments, and it appears that many of you have a lot of experience with children (remember, this is a 16 year old) and truly want to help. Thank you in advance for any help you can give me.
    And to comment briefly on the original blog subject: it doesn't sound like anyone has been forced to take a job at Sylvan, but I can honestly see both sides of this issue....there are huge costs with acquiring and running a franchise, but I always want to see quality teachers get paid what they are worth. Good luck to all of you.

  149. Brenda,

    It seems all of your daughter's anxiety revolves around reading comprehension. Would it be feasible for you to monitor her homework and "quiz" her for tests? You might try "guided reading" as one approach. You would have to read the text first. Then ask her to find information in the reading selection. It is ok for her to read the selection more than once to locate the information. In fact, it might help her remember what she has read, and this will ease some of her fears. She could also take brief notes and make up her own questions with some prompts from you. If you have the time to do this, you might give it a try...

    Re: "forced to work at a learning center"--you are correct. No one did--In my case, it was a very poor choice. One reason is that I could not draw on any of my previous experience when working with the students. Everything was dictated by the owners who are not educatiors. I blame myself-not them. I believe my experience is valueable because I have worked in almost every educational setting-full time, part time, subbing. Sunday school, tutor, music teacher, community college, ESL--but none of this was appreciated. When I interviewed, the job description was sketchy, but I thought I would fit in because of all the different venues which I described. This was not the case. Learning centers are different from anything I have ever known. Some people--especially those just out of college--have a different spin on this. For them, it might be a good experience. But for some of us who have been full time teachers, it is not "teaching"--it is just record keeping. As I stated before, we were told what to say, how and when to say it, where to sit, what to write, and to make certain that all the rules were followed. To me, that's all it was--rules and more rules. It was stifling and I regret wasting a year of my time in such a repressive environment with such unimagineative business-oriented people. I don't believe education is a business; it is a process which can be mutually fulfilling for students and teachers. Now, some of you will probably cite private colleges and universities, but that is different. They do make a profit. I am only talking about K-12. Kids need levity, creativity--not iron-clad sameness. Not profit-hungry non educator dictators.

    Some centers may be very good--I only am reporting my experience. Perhaps your school guidance counselor could advise you further on how to help your daughter.

  150. MEP--
    Thanks for your response. I will try the guided reading. I will also check with the guidance counselor. It's a small midwestern high school (no offense, anyone, it's the one I graduated from, too...), so the resources are few.
    It sounds like you do have the experience that anyone would want in someone tutoring/teaching a child. I have always respected someone's work/life experiences and have drawn upon those when making decisions.
    It's unfortunate that you were stifled in your attempt to better some lives....I stumbled across a new website that intrigued me; it sounded like a novel approach to tutoring (what do I know, though....I've never tutored nor been tutored). It's called Super Tutors USA, and it appears that local college students and graduates are the tutors, in their fields of "expertise". It's less costly and less of a long-term commitment than Sylvan, and they are one-on-one sessions, either at the college campus or another location desired. I am going to check into it if the counselor can't help. Again thanks.

  151. Brenda,

    I hope everything works out for your daughter. Does she take any foreign languages? Those require memorization, and maybe that would help her retain information. Beginning Spanish is pretty easy.

    Thanks for understanding about my negative experience in a learning center. Although the pay was insultingly low, that wasn't the only issue. As I outlined in my previous response, my "Skill Set" was not utilized, and that was the most frustrating thing of all. I just couldn't function in that stilted environment.

  152. I have been working at Sylvan for about six months now as a math teacher. I own my own business that does not require much of my time. Since I have a background in engineering, I wanted to do something rewarding with my experience.

    I get paid $14/hour. This is nowhere near the $60+/hour that I made in engineering, but I don't really need the money. I have learned a lot about the teaching profession since I started. It really is about the reward of helping the students succeed. During my first month, when I saw a young student start understanding math and gain confidence, I was hooked.

    I am really impressed with all of the other teachers. Most of them work at a public school, or have retired from teaching public schools. They either work to supplement their regular teachers pay, or to have extra spending money. They are all really good with the students.

    It has always astonished me that teachers are not paid very well. We entrust the education of our future generations to people who do not get paid very well. All of the teachers that I know are aware of this, but they choose to be there.

    Teaching at Sylvan is a part time job and they were very upfront with me about the hours and the pay. I don't need to continue working at Sylvan, but I choose to work there. Even if the students don't ever thank me directly, I do find that knowing that I may have made a difference to even one of the students is very rewarding. On the other hand, I do believe that teachers pay in general is a problem that America should address. Be it at Sylvan or a public school, teachers are making a difference and training our future generations.

  153. I am so disappointed in all of your negative replies. Sylvan is such a wonderful program. You are forgetting that even if the teachers make $9/hr it is a supplemental income for them as they are already teachers making $40K+/yr. And not for nothing, how do you even know what they are making. The important thing is that they are teaching these children that need extra help because the school districts don't offer enough no matter how much you pay in taxes. Hats off to Sylvan!!! Everyone else...make some real comments here that will help parents.

  154. Proud Mom said on September 18, 2007:

    You are forgetting that even if the teachers make $9/hr it is a supplemental income for them as they are already teachers making $40K+/yr.

    For a lot of people it's not supplemental, no.

    Proud Mom said on September 18, 2007:

    And not for nothing, how do you even know what they are making.

    Scroll all the way to the top. Read. There's your answer.

    I disagree that Sylvan is as great as you seem to believe and personally believe parents are better off going any number of other alternative ways.

  155. I enjoy working at Sylvan for 10 dollars an hour. But I want to work more hours. They over hire - hire 20 teachers and pay to train them when they only need 5 teachers. At this point it is barely worth the gas for me to drive in for only a 1 or 2 hour shift. But I think it is something else to put on my resume for the future jobs I apply to. Teachers are not in a short supply - there is not a teacher shortage. Teachers in my state definitely do not get paid well in the public schools. Educational Assistants (who are supposed to be doing the same thing that Sylvan does) make 7 dollars an hour and no benefits in my area. Kitchen assitants are paid more. Substitute teachers earn less than employees of Walmart. I like working for Sylvan - but will continue to look for another job - because just not enough hours are being scheduled. I would love to be full time - as a Director or in a Management role - so maybe that opportunity will open up also. I also agree the program is very expensive for most parents. I also agree that it is a shame so many students need to be in a for profit tutoring situation - rather than getting education in the public schools. The schools need to hire people to teach reading and math rather than spend money on sports IMO. The public schools are partly to blame for students needing Sylvan in the first place. None of the teachers in my center are actually working in the public schools - because there are simply no jobs available for them - due to there being too many people applying for the jobs. Some of the people in my center are not teachers by degrees either - but have other skills that are being taught. I am sure each center is different and some are more organized and better run than others. I like the job - and will continue with the hope of full time hours - unless I have to move on to a different job due to continuing getting low scheduling hours.

  156. Proud mom-you need a dose of reality. Most teachers' starting salary is in the low'30K region. Workers at "learning centers" do not have full time teaching jobs. Most of the workers are right out of college and work as substitutes or day care workers. A full time teacher would not have the time or the inclination to work at one of these places--Get Real,Lady!!!

  157. With my master's degree in reading and an excellent math teacher, I make $45,000 a year. I would never think of doing anything for less than $40 an hour. It is not that I don't love children, but I need time for my own children. At $40 an hour, that might help to provide a little something more so I probably would consider it. I already devote my life to 30 children full-time. I barely would need to prepare to tutor a child because I use everything I would need everyday. I am an expert. I am not bound by a rigid program, can bring in exactly what materials I need based on feedback from the student, and can provide excellent assessments that have been used in IEP's. I seriously doubt anyone at Sylvan, even with a program provided for them can provide the insights and the expertise that I can provide. It's not that I am bragging, which may sound like it to those who have not went to a rigorous University, but that nothing compares to the education I have had. It's like the difference between hiring a doctor and a person that has access to Webmd. I train teachers and have spent 8 years observing 30 kids per year 7 hours a day. Not only that but I have done my own research and have perfected the art of motivating children. I work with many other teachers just like me. They are out there. You need to ask around to find out who they are. You need to pay them what they are worth. I am sure Sylvan is fine. But like many businesses, there is something lost the bigger you get. Sylvan is for those who don't want to do their homework to find the best or somehow think big business is worth paying $40 for a canned program but not for a skilled craftsman. Like a doctor, I am constantly reading the current research in my field. You have no idea what a good teacher knows. It would blow your mind.

  158. Proud Expert,

    Finally!! Someone is tuned in to what I have been saying. "Canned" is a great way to describe their methods--no creativity, no motivational techniques--visuals or auditory--just their archaic program. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The money is also an issue that some people just don't understand: your analogy about a skilled craftsman is correct. In my area, dishwashers and bus drivers make more than I made. I know you will find this abominable, but there are some uninformed people who have made nasty comments about greed. Your salary is decent, and I am sure you deserve it.

  159. One last thing I wanted to mention--I think that it would be just as effective, maybe more, to tutor 2 children close to the same level, at once. They feed off of each other and learning can sometimes be quicker. One may be able to explain what is difficult when the other can't. Both may not feel shy to tell you they don't get it the way you are saying it because the other is struggling too. There seem to be quite a few advantages.

    I say this because I understand that $40 an hour is a lot. Especially because it will take many hours to remediate a child in an area. However, there are teachers out there that simply won't tutor because they can't get $40 an hour, and $20 an hour is not worth giving up their time with their family or others in their lives. So they simply don't tutor. That is a shame because if someone would come up with the idea of splitting the $40 between two parents, you can get an expert for cheaper if they are willing. My sister and her friend split the cost of tumbling instruction for their cheerleading daughters and it is $40 an hour.

    Just a thought.

    Thank you MEP for your support.

  160. PE:
    I am guessing that the first thing people will comment on is the $40/hr rate you mention. But where I worked, parents were paying $34/hr while we were paid $7.50. And, I am one of those teachers you said won't tutor. Where I live, $25/hr is considered the maximum. If I could count on $40--I'd probably do it. Just working with five students per week at that rate would be enough for me.

    Dual tutoring is a great idea, but again, the center where I worked frowned on that: it was one-on-one, but we were all crowded into a tiny room with a dozen people at individual tables. The noise was distracting for the kids and for me. It is too bad because children do learn from each other--just not in a center situation.

  161. Sorry, but I have to agree with many here based on my experience. We enrolled our son in Sylvan based on his testing and their reccomendations and saw very little improvement. Every review we were prodded to add more time and expand the time...of course adding to the costs and when we said no, they made us feel like we were bad parents and the reason he wasn't improving was our fault. Finally we got him out and had a private tutor from the school at $15 per hour spend some time with him and his confidence soared and his school work improved ten fold. We can argue all day about salaries, but our experience and many others we have talked with says that Sylvan is a money machine.

    thanks to all you teachers...no matter who you work for, thanks for trying to help our kids.

  162. Greg,

    I am glad your son is doing so well. It is great that the school was able to find such a competent tutor, and the price was not exhorbitant. The $15/hr. was very reasonable.

    I appreciate your comments and your understanding that one on one, consistant tutoring is much more beneficial than the canned learning center approach. The low pay is only one of the negatives--I never got to know the students because I worked with a different child every time. I had to write comments on their forms the whole time which made it difficult to fully attend to what the student was doing. Also, as I have mentioned, we were packed into a small, noisy room with a dozen other kids and tutors. It was very tough to focus.

    Good luck to you and your child!!

  163. As a Sylvan employee (Admin. Assistant/Updater/Classroom Assistant), at least at our centre. The teachers get paid over $12 hr to start and has regular increases/bonus. People need to realize each centre is individually owned and operated so one person's experience at one centre doesn't reflect them all. Also the teachers come in just for class time. All the lesson plan updating is done and they have all the materials they need. Most centres have a classroom assistant to get photocopies, books etc during class. I have been treated well in my job and we are like a family there. How many people can go home at the end of the day and say 'I love my job'? I can.

  164. I agree with the comment made about this notion that teachers need to remember the glimmer in the eye of getting through to a student and that should be part of the "payment". Give me a break-- thats like saying that a car manufacturer or oil company should accept that they are HELPING us get to work and live our lives as ENOUGH -- money should not be the issue--
    The world does not work like that-- Please teachers -- don't accept this line of BUNK! Just because you are good at what you do and you make a difference in the world does not mean that you should not EXPECT to be PAID sufficiently for your time!!
    I was considering sending my First Grader to Sylvan-- but after reading this blog-- I may reconsider and I would rather pay an actual teacher the same 40 an hour that I would for them to be at Sylvan-- Because that is what its worth to me-- and teachers deserve it!!

  165. Sylvan - advice to parents

    Having worked with this company there are some thing potential parents need know. First, the people you will be talking to when you come to the center to sign up for your program are there to sell you the largest possible program. Deposits and revenue are measured weekly in some centers, and believe me when i tell you, from experience, they will use any and all emotional "triggers" to get you to sign on.

    Once in the program, there are many things i have read on this site that ring true. Ask to see your child's notebook in conferences, ask to tour the center during busy hours, ask for as much as you can get. Sylvan does well at painting pictures, but there is rarely any substance.

    Not all centers are out for only the money, it is worth the effort to find out. Do your homework, not all Sylvan centers are the same!!!!!

    Honestly, with a little parenting and a two dollar library card, more often than not the same results cand be achieved. Save your money until you dig deeply into the program you are being sold. As it always does, the truth will come out sooner or later.

  166. As an employee of Sylvan at the corp headquarters, I find this very interesting to read.
    I deal with center staff, teachers and families directly on a daily basis.

    Points to remember here:
    Teaching positions within the center is not forced, so if there is a teacher at a center relying on that income as their sole income - they have no room to complain they voluntarily accept the position at the rate of pay.
    Centers are individually owned and operated, so the rate of pay and benefits will vary. Corp provides the centers with guidelines of pay and benefits, but ultimately it is up to the individual center owner on what is provided.
    Teachers at the centers and the on-line programs are certified and MUST complete and pass all background checks including finger-printing.
    Sylvan has an on-line program that can be taken from home in front of your own computer.... with a LIVE teacher. The classroom ratio is still 1:3, however the students are isolated in their own room so other students do not overhear or see. This seems to work best for those who lack confidence and tend to withdraw due to embarassment - especially boys. The kids seem to get a kick out of being able to talk to a Live person through the computer, and the program is very interactive. From what I understand it costs less then in-center as well....Now, some kids benefit more with the teacher being right there with them and the feed back from other children in the room, this is where the in-center program is the best.
    Any program, provided by any Company\Individual will not be without some short comings. An individual needs to weigh the pros and cons of each when considering either enrolling their child or working for the company.

    I hear from many parents on a daily basis. I hear positive and negative. I also observe the children on a daily basis and I see positive and negative on that side as well.
    When considering a program for a child it is very difficult for parents as they are emotionally involved, so of course they will tend to over-exaggerate problems as this is their child we are dealing with and their money. This is the mind set I have when I hear grievances, and believe me I will be the first one to contact a center or teacher on the parents behalf in order to rectify a situation or offer praise if so deserving... unfortunately, doing so is getting me into some hot water lately as this is not something corporate office would like us to do any longer.....which I hate! these are kids we are dealing with and lots of money their parents are putting out to better them.....you will see that many of our teachers have the same additude...they are there for the kids! The teachers amaze me as to how well they interact with the kids....they really do care......if they didn't then they wouldn't be willing to work at the rate of pay that they receive.
    Teachers are underpaid...all the way around, they have to deal with 20+ students in each class...think of all those personalities and midsets you are trying to get through to...think of all the behavioral issues you have to deal with, and the many parents that send their children to school with the additude that if their child has a behavioral problem during school the school can just deal with it..but at the same time there are so many restrictions on teachers and schools that they cannot appropriately deal with it....thus jeopardizing all the children in the classroom!
    In the mean time everyone in the state pays taxes for schools and many times bond referendums, unfortunately the school districts do not know how to mange finances and feel that having corner offices and panoramic views are more important then paying teachers what they are worth or even providing adequate supplies to them to teach appropriate (many are spending over $500 out of their own pockets) So with this in mind the average rate of $10\hr for a Sylvan teacher is not bad..as there is no (or shouldn't be) any out of pocket expenses...scheduling is at their convenience and they do not have to deal with the Admin BS that is required of them in public schools.
    Right now I am a very disgruntled employee, I do not believe in all practices that are in place (that will happen anywhere you work) however, I have seen the pros and cons, the satisfaction and dissatisfaction from the inside and I still believe in the program......unfortunately, the Center Staff is usually lacking proper training and therefore represents Sylvan in a poor manner......again each center is different and every parent and teacher must weigh their priorities prior to jumping in.......

  167. Current Sylvan (Corp) Employee said on October 4, 2007:

    Teaching positions within the center is not forced, so if there is a teacher at a center relying on that income as their sole income - they have no room to complain they voluntarily accept the position at the rate of pay.

    That's beside the point. The point is parents get what they pay for, and currently, 80% of their payments go towards administrative crap and profits while only 20% goes to the "teacher."

    As stated, parents are far more likely to get a better return on their investment buy taking a little of that 80%, adding it to the 20%, and hiring a teacher to tutor their child one-on-one.

    Current Sylvan (Corp) Employee said on October 4, 2007:

    Centers are individually owned and operated, so the rate of pay and benefits will vary. Corp provides the centers with guidelines of pay and benefits, but ultimately it is up to the individual center owner on what is provided.

    The highest total mentioned is $12/hour. Given the $50/hour centers charge, that's still only 24% to the "teacher" and 76% to overhead and profit.

    Current Sylvan (Corp) Employee said on October 4, 2007:

    Teachers at the centers and the on-line programs are certified and MUST complete and pass all background checks including finger-printing.

    So do "real" teachers.

    Current Sylvan (Corp) Employee said on October 4, 2007:

    Sylvan has an on-line program that can be taken from home in front of your own computer.... with a LIVE teacher. The classroom ratio is still 1:3, however the students are isolated in their own room so other students do not overhear or see. This seems to work best for those who lack confidence and tend to withdraw due to embarassment - especially boys. The kids seem to get a kick out of being able to talk to a Live person through the computer, and the program is very interactive. From what I understand it costs less then in-center as well....Now, some kids benefit more with the teacher being right there with them and the feed back from other children in the room, this is where the in-center program is the best.

    Sounds like another great way for Sylvan to rip you off and do even less work for the cash.

    If a child is fearful of embarassment in front of other kids, the proposed solution of one-on-one tutoring with a student is still far more valid than using Internet chat.

    Current Sylvan (Corp) Employee said on October 4, 2007:

    Any program, provided by any Company\Individual will not be without some short comings. An individual needs to weigh the pros and cons of each when considering either enrolling their child or working for the company.

    Or, they could avoid the "necessary" shortcomings altogether and get more bang for their buck by hiring an individual tutor.

    Current Sylvan (Corp) Employee said on October 4, 2007:

    When considering a program for a child it is very difficult for parents as they are emotionally involved,

    And from all I've heard, Sylvan seems to rely on the emotional state and pry at it to get parents to keep their kids in Sylvan. They'll insinuate that parents are cheap, lazy, and/or bad parents if they don't spend another few thousand dollars to keep their kid in Sylvan. They'll use lines like "You can't measure the value of seeing the smile of success on your child's face in dollars and cents."

    The simple truth remains that Sylvan employees are paid a small portion of the money a parent pays to "the company." For that $50/hour, they'll be given tests prepared by Sylvan, whose employees will then teach to that test so that when it's given again in ten weeks, the child shows "improvement." Of course they will. All that for $3500, only $700 of which goes to the teacher.

    Current Sylvan (Corp) Employee said on October 4, 2007:

    If they didn't then they wouldn't be willing to work at the rate of pay that they receive.

    That's faulty logic. If they were better teachers and they cared about kids all the same, they'd likely work for a school system which would not only pay them more but which would give them summers off and expose them to more kids that their altruistic little hearts could help out.

    The fact of the matter is that the majority of Sylvan teachers are teachers that weren't qualified enough to land a school job, so obviously they're going to be paid less. They're worth less.

    Current Sylvan (Corp) Employee said on October 4, 2007:

    So with this in mind the average rate of $10\hr for a Sylvan teacher is not bad..as there is no (or shouldn't be) any out of pocket expenses...

    Oh c'mon now. Cut the crap. $10/hour is $20k/year, and that's if the teacher works year-round. Even the poorest school districts offer about $30k/year to their starting teachers, gives them the summer off, and offers some form of health care and pension plan. Even if you were accurate (you're not) in claiming $500 in out-of-pocket expenses, it's a drop in the bucket compared to Sylvan's $10/hour.

    $10/hour is barely more than minimum wage.

  168. It seems there are two points in this topic:

    The first is teacher pay at Sylvan, fact of the matter is one side saying it is not enough compared to what Sylvan charges, the other saying it is not required that teachers work there and if the pay is too low they should go elsewhere.

    Teachers, truthfully, go elsewhere. True, there are no plans for you to keep up with, but you do have to sit down and make sense of plans someone else, sometimes someone with little training, is making for you. These plans can be repetative, even if you believe the student should move on, and you have about 5 minutes to do it before you have three students with different programs staring at you and parents asking why you are wasting their money. Schedules are always changing, and will change each hour you are at the center. Sure you pick your own days to work, but you will be called either every day for every hour you have listed, or not at all. If you have something come up you better be ready to cancel it because once you take that teaching job Sylvan owns the hours you list. Set up your own tutoring schedule and work as you wish individually with the students, form true bonds with real results, not made up testing pieces and scrambled together conferences. Sylvan employees may say otherwise but the truth is known to them. SYlvan owners will say otherwise but would you expect them to admit to what is being said on this blog??

    The second point is the effectiveness of Sylvan compared to its' cost. Sylvan does not work any better than any other program on the average. True, some Sylvan centers show great success, have wonderful tales to tell and knowledgable staff. However, most are not this way.

    My experience with Sylvan was one that was full of inept employees and administration, who cared only for the numbers, not the customer and student. Books were updated late, and in a manner that was "to get them done" not with the student in mind. The ownership was absolutely terrible at communicating with employees, and would do what I felt was everything in their power to prevent fully refunding unhappy customers. Even to the point of having a student pay for over one hundred hours and never attend, and then have the franchisee state they want the refund given to the parent at the nornal hourly rate instead of the discount rate the parent paid. Ended up costing the parent over 500 dollars, for a service they never used!!

    Sylvan survives because public education leaves parents wondering how they can help their child improve. As so many have stated before, one on one tutoring or parent assistance are very functional alternative to going into debt for a service that has a 50/50 chance of yielding success at best.

    That is as honest as I can be from my experience. Let others say what they will, everyone has on opinion. I just really feel for the single mom with three kids that wants desperately to help her student and gets saddled with 17,000 dollars worth of Sylvan that does nothing and ruins her credit score. I feel for that mother because I used to be the one that sold the program to her.

  169. As a former Center Director and Education Director I, unfortunately, agree with the above description by Smith. Keep in mind, however, that there are success stories, I'm sure in every center.

    It is clear that that the parents come to Sylvan so their kids will do better in school. However, if the child is very far behind, they will not be on grade level and will therefore be "filling in their skill gaps" at Sylvan with work that may not be related to their current school assignments. So how are you going to see improvement at school?

    One solution is to find out from the student or teacher what skills they are working on, then make the lesson plans accordingly. But in my experience at Sylvan there is really not enough time for the Education Director to take such a personal approach. At least I never had enough time to do it for enough students (maybe just a few).

    The best results came when the students brought their own homework and the teacher helped them with it. That way it's much more relevant and their grades shoud improve - I saw this especially in higher math (with a very fine teacher.)

    While I was still employed with Sylvan, they were going to start "homework help" at a reduced hourly rate and without the 3 to 1 student/teacher ration. I'm not sure if that ever got off the ground, but it seemed to me to be a good idea, based upon what I've said above.

  170. Well said former employee,

    I too spent time working with sylvan, on the same path you were traveling...the homework help you mentioned did take off, but anyone wishing to take advantage of it had to combine it with study skills to get the reduced rate...and we were told to really " get on these parents to add extra programs" after they had signed up for this reduced rate..

    As many people on this blog have said in the past, ALL learning is beneficial for struggling students, but my experience with the moral and structural components of Sylvan leads me to believe the parents and children are not the key concerns for this company at a franchise level in many centers.

  171. I work at a Sylvan currently and am also a full time teacher. Why am I at Sylvan? I need the extra money due to the wonderful wages given in the public school system. I make 10.25 an hour. We get a huge .25 bonus every 3-4 months as well if we the directors who may roam the room for a few minutes, think we are doing our job. We cannot have drinks in the room. No dinners or drawlings or anything mentioned earlier. I look around the room and see 12 kids at 45 bucks an hour and think...wow.....we are professional teachers making as much as a waiter at TGIF's . A lot of the kids do not want to be there after being at school all day (I dont blame them), escpecially the high schoolers and when they are indifferent about doing anything or are distracting what can you do? Not a whole lot really. Give a detention? What is my point? 90% of the teachers there are there for the money (which is not a lot) and feel bitter about how much the place makes for giving out assignemnts in books that are over 10 YEARS OLD. The place is a gold mine for someone and no one is seeing the benefits from it on the teachers side of it. Sometimes I am a ashamed to give out the work....giving out 1st grade phonics or spelling words to a 10th grader with a B average. Don't tell me to get another job if I dont like it. I like the kids but they are getting ripped off and we are as well. Just how society works.

  172. The above is a synopsis I have heard before both on this board and from teachers in the center of which I was a part.

    Teaching at Sylvan is a job, and one that pays around minimum wage, if teachers wish to work there that is their right, of course everyone needs to make ends meet. If given a choice, however, the "twinkle in the eye" of students spoke of by so many Sylvan supporters on this blog can be accomplished in a much more teacher friendly environment either by independant tutoring or working with the parents to set up after school sessions.

    Sylvan really utilizes the recent (10 years old thereabouts) trend of some parents to use the school to teach their children everything so that the parent does not have to deal with that part of the child's development. I understand teaching children is what schools are for, but parents really have an important role to play as well. Thankfully, not all parents are doing this and those that play an active role with their children should be looked at as caring and concerned, not the "harrassing" parents many Sylvans make them out to be when they ask for information on their child's program.

    Those parents who simply drop off their student at school, or the bus stop, and wait for them to come home with a head full of knowledge are easy prey for Sylvan. They will pay for someone to do all of the work of "catching their student up" quickly, they will fall for warped statistics and grade equiv. numbers, and, best of all, they will not ask questions during conferences and sign up for whatever they are told their child needs.

    Good Sylvan centers freely give information such as test content, current material being worked on by the student (with dated examples), hours left, true length of program, info on student status in the program and if they will end early or late, explained test results etc etc etc.

    Many Sylvans simply do "cookie cutter" conferences so that numbers can be phoned in as completed and don't give one ounce of consideration to the actualy needs of the student, they simply care about "does the parent see what we are or are not doing" and if so what can we do to explain why we are not getting what we said we would if they ask about it.

    In short, please parents, talk with your child's teachers about what they can do to help your student before trying Sylvan. Teachers not only really know what the student needs from experience (not just one test), but also what the child is expected to do in the future. Sylvan may ask for this info, but isn't it easier right from the brain of the person doing the grading??

    If you must try Sylvan I cannot stress enough, ASK QUESTIONS and GET DOCUMENTED RESULTS! Be the "pain in the neck" parent, after all it is your money isn't it???? In addition, check the sheets you sign before signing them, especially the refund and ending program pieces, they are very enlightening .

    (Sorry about the lack of punctuation, I am typing on an old keyboard...I hope the points were made though.)

  173. good post above this.....i notice the paper work from the conferences....many of the students have the same comments over and over and over...very odd i think considering the number of "tests" they take...i tutor on the side as well...but i guess one positive about sylvan is the schedule with private tutoring that can change but sylvan owns you with the schedule and if you cannot work it they guilt you to death...

  174. I recently tutored briefly at a Sylvan Center and, although I resigned after only 3 weeks, I was there long enough to form a very low opinion of their operation. They absolutely do rip off teachers, parents, and, worst of all, the students. They are only in business to make money at anyone else's expense. The atmosphere was chaotic, noisy and distracting. Students often had to sit and do nothing while the tutor finished helping another of his/her 3 students. The idea of one teacher tutoring 3 students on vastly different grade levels and completely different subjects -- all at the same time -- is ridiculous! The center where I worked charged parents $48.00/hour and paid tutors $10.00/hour. Considering that they were pulling in $144.00/hour and paying out $10.00/hour, I'd say they have a pretty lucrative business going. I knew the pay before I began, but when I saw what a sham their methods were, I just couldn't be a part of it. Parents would be well advised to hire a private tutor for their child. Shame on Sylvan!!!

  175. Very true!

    would-be teachers must be sure not to add more days than you really want to work, because you will be called for either all or none/very few. Should you even consider not working one of the days they call you, not to ASK you if you can work by the way, but to TELL you when you are working, you will be guilted to no end and they may even end your employment for not being available to them when they only told you that day you would be needed.

    There is very little to say about the company that has not been said, the truth is on this board, both good and bad. From what I have read here, many people are really pleased with Sylvan, but it seems just as many, if not more, are not truly happy with their choice of Sylvan for their child.

    Even if the numbers were even, is it worth thousands of dollars to take a 50/50 shot when there are more reliable and less costly options? If you feel it is, roll the dice, if not, check into your options. You may come back to Sylvan, but please take the time and do not rush into a decision.

  176. After reading most of these posts I feel that if one has the financial means it could be benificial for the k-3 students and learning basic skills like reading, writing etc. They have a couple nice things that they do to help REINFORCE what they learn in school. However the older the students get, the more silly the work gets. I do mostly study skills, a joke in my humble opinion. Pay 45 bucks an hour to do homework? And then have them do fake work to learn skills? Please. I am ashamed to do some of the things out of the study skill binder. As far as hours go. My better half told me that she has a commitment in a week but I work. I have zero idea how I can get out of working at Sylvan for two hours. They may even want me to bring in my kids!!! It is easier to call in sick at school!

  177. I am very glad I stumbled on to this board, we have been considering Sylvan for quite some time now. My daughter is in the third grade goes to a parochial school and has been struggling in math since last year. Now she is having issues in language. I am preplexed about the program an would love feed back .

  178. Two pieces here:

    First, Illinois, you are exactly right, as has been stated on this board before, if you list the hours for work at Sylvan they own you...God forbid you try and call out, you will be guilted to no end and probably lose any future hours because you are "unreliable". In addition, you are spot on about the study skills, there cannot be a bigger waste of money...if anyone has questions about that statement please ask I will be happy to share my opinions, but take them as that, opinions.

    To Leslie, you asked about your third grade daughter, please talk to your teachers at the school first, if extra work in all that is needed you can get that cheaper working with a teacher than with Sylvan. Also, to get into the "Sylvan system" you will need to book a 150-200 dollars test for your child, sit through a session of someone trying to sell you more than you often need and monthly meetings where a director will convince you of needed extra hours or programs (usually based on the financial needs of the center, not your student).

    These meetings will have numerous pieces of paperwork extolling the triumphs Sylvan claims to have made with your child, while not truly giving any proof of those gains in most cases. After 36 hours Sylvan promises a year of growth when compared to the last test, please ask to see all of the questioned topics broken down. You will discover that, not only does Sylvan teach to the test the first month, but also the test topics are weighted so that a student can actually miss more questions and still make growth!

    If you must try Sylvan, ask about a money back policy if you are not satisfied, any company with so much faith in their product would at least give that, right? The answer to that question should shed some light on things for you.

    In truth, if you are considering Sylvan exhaust all of your other options first. Sylvan is 50 dollars an hour in most places and your child will be in a crowded, noisy and completely inappropriate work environment. Most Sylvan centers are run this way, yours may be the exception, look into it first. I would ask to speak to the center director and/or owner, get a feel, if it sounds like they are feeding you BS hit the door.

    This is the only advice I can give...once again forgive misspellings, I do not have the time for a proof-read at the moment...many people scour posts and then try to discredit them as "what a dumb person he or she cannot type", these are cheap shots by persons with no real positions to argue.

  179. Leslie,

    I agree with Smith all together so I will not restate everything that he/she said. Ask lots of questions and look at the finacial part, money back etc. If you child has problems working around other kids doing different activities and has problems with working indepedent from time to time. May one to look into a one on one tutor. But if there is one type of focus and you can work out a short program and not have them drawl it out and convince you your child has other "issues" to work on. Maybe look into it. On a positive note, I mentioned how I needed a sub for a upcoming day...they actually covered for me without guilting me....BUT....if they sign up more study skills this week they will call me....Sylvan "on call" so to speak....they should give us beepers....... :razz:

  180. I worked at a Sylvan for 8 months with an "emergency teaching credential" in pursuit of a teaching degree and absolutely loved it. I was paid $13 an hour in a suburb outside of San Francisco, and wanted to work full-time, but the Sylvan teachers are meant to be part time employees only (without benefits). I don't doubt that teachers were taken advantage of- but only if they allowed themselves to be. Most of the teachers at my Sylvan were retired engineers who love math, or teachers that wanted more flexibility. The money was so poor, the only reason the teachers came back each day was because they loved to teach. This is what I really wanted to say to parents the whole time I was there- Why do you have to pay me so much money to just spend 20 minutes - 3 times a week-with your kid? Why are YOU NOT interested in what your child is doing each day at school? Most of the children at Sylvan just need encouragement and daily help with homework. Yes, I do have degrees and feel that I was able to really help children with their writing skills, but I don't think it takes a degree to talk to your child and see where they are struggling in school. To sit down with them, 20 minutes- 3 times a week- and go over homework. I personally would not waste my money on the center, since I would think it would be much cheaper to find a decent tutor if I really didn't have the time for my own kids.

  181. You are so very correct on taking time with our children, which I do. I do not think my daughter was given the correct tools for Math in which she struggles in. We now have a teacher that tutors her twice a week and are seeing some progress. I do not think we will ever resort to Sylvan and it's sad that teachers are so poorly paid.

  182. A wise choice. Teachers are a tremendous resource and, despite what Sylvan centers will tell you, really know what is better for your student due to their experience in the field and time spent with your child. Good luck and your student and wallet will thank you!

  183. I'm a senior MIS major at Texas A&M University and realized that with my somewhat technical major I've managed to get by without having very good reading skills. I've always heard that Sylvan had a great program so I decided to give it a chance. I told them my main problem was reading comprehension and they advised me to take the Accelerated Reading Program. Sensing that this was my last opportunity to seek help before I graduated, I decided to sign up.

    $569 and 12 hrs later I'm still where I was in the beginning. The material for the Accelerated Reading course only focuses on reading faster with very little emphasis on retention and comprehension. The majority of the daily skills tests are designed to improve the speed of eye movement (timed tests finding matching letters & numbers) with only one test focused on speed with comprehension. So basically, instead of reading slow without retention I can now read fast without retention, yeah me.

    To emphasis my point, one of the instructions for the 11th of 12 hours told me to read a passage using the techniques I had learned. They noted that comprehension should be less than 50%. Seems like comprehension isn't very important. All they care about is words per minute. WPM are meaningless if the comprehension doesn't follow. Needless to say I am VERY disappointed in the quality of material.

  184. The person above brings to light one of the fundemental and repetative complaints about Sylvan, which is the true nature of the program. Teacher pay being what this topic was founded on I will be brief.

    Sylvan's advanced reading system, no matter the initial thought that inspired it, has been corrupted in many instances to only be an avenue to generate "money making" statistics. WPM is what matters because the center director can use that to sell a parent who will equate what they are told in conferences with actual learning gains.

    A school teacher is held accountable and routinely measured on comprehension, Sylvan's unfortunate lack of advanced reading comprehension content often is not revealed until after money has been paid and parents can be told "well, we can give your student to the tools but cannot make him or her use them". This is an unfortunate statement and is lingo which I, as a former center director, was fed to say to parents more often than I would care to admit when the truth was brought to light.

    For a fraction of the cost of the advanced reading program one can purchase PC software that will teach the same skills and yield similar, if not better results. Sylvan is really beneficial on an hourly basis for help with homework if the student is struggling in a subject. Teachers at Sylvan are useful for this, and immediate results can be seen or not by the child's GPA.

    Bottom line, investing hundreds or thousands in a program only to be guilted, have your parenting questioned when you will not extend your students hours, then told "well we can give him the tools..." when it doesn't work is folly. No matter the rare success story, the majority is where the truth lies.

  185. I am one of the few study skills teachers in our building. No one enjoys doing that i guess...wonder why...I had three study skills students at once....which by the way probably should not be done....too much one on one and discussion for three students at once. I am NOT qualified for math. In fact I stink at it and know it and they know it. I am a history/english guy. Well a good portion of the students need help in math. We have ONE MATH GUY out of the whole staff. I send my students to him for help during the hour. Poor guy had 4 or 5 students coming up to him for help. I do my best but remember that we are teachers in various subjects and sometimes do not have the answer. If only the parents knew our backgrounds huh?

  186. I came across this blog and was stunned by the content. I'm not surprised that, with a system as large as Sylvan, there are folks who've had a bad experience. I guess I just wasn't expecting to hear about the quality of the programs.

    The blog was originally about teacher pay, and given that most Sylvan's in Canada and the USA are independently owned and operated, and operate in very different local and regional economies, it doesn't surpise me that teacher pay varies. That said, $8 /hr is quite low, but that doesn't mean the entire system pays that low.

    As for the comments regarding the system, I have to take a strong stand here. The Sylvan system works, and if it isn't then it's not a design error, it's an implementation error. Bottom line is, this is a service business and results will vary based on the quality of service given, don't blame the system/curriculum.

  187. I have three years of English teaching experience, including overseas sojourns to Honduras, South Korea and Belize. I have had the opportunity to teach in a school in the midwest. Recently, I decided to return to school for my Master's in Education while at the same time seek further work experience at a Huntington Learning Center. Doing so seemed like a fantastic idea, as I would have the opportunity to apply new teaching strategies. Further, I would gain better insight into areas of student difficulty. I was offered a job at a center in Ahwatukee, a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona. I shadowed, that is, watched, other tutors for three days. During this time, I heard other tutors state such things as "why do we have him here?" and "Why do we have another tutor? We don't need some hack trying to teach English."

    I was promised, both verbally and in writing, that I would see at least two days a week of tutoring experience. I saw those hours vanish under the premise of "student rescheduling" which, as I was told, was typically discouraged by the administration. I received a hot-breath apology, and further offers for more hours. For two weeks, I received no "floor time", or tutoring experience.

    Also, I was informed that my first week's pay would be received six days after I started work, only to have that explanation countered with a "you'll get it when we feel like giving it to you" sort of response.

    I am insulted by the egotistical, condescentive, pseudointellectual individuals that espouse such a trogloditic and self-absorbed perspective.

    In other words, places such as the Huntington Learning Centers and Sylvans really are a waste of money. Any teacher can help a student achieve as much, if not more, than these places at 1/5th the cost of attendance.

  188. Taking a stand and defending Sylvan is great, and I hope it worked for some people out there. Success stories are everywhere, heck, even shock treatment had its share of people it "worked for".

    Let's look at it realistically though, EVERY educational program is developed with the best of intentions. Some work, some don't, but when you have a mix of people with quality experience stating that the program is flawed in its curriculum and implementation, simply writing "it works" is hollow and unsubstantiated.

    It is written on this blog that some Sylvans are successful, but it is not because of their programs, it is because hard working people take the coal they are given and use it as a template to make diamonds.

    Many Sylvans do not do this, and hence, their product is horrible. Simple point is the tutoring methodology, speed reading and study skills courses in particular are fine examples of Sylvans shortcomings.

    The fact that a few students found success (which they would have most likely also found for free with a teacher or less money with a provate tutor) does not mean the system works.

    Let's be clear.

  189. My apology to some for not writing a white paper on the merits of the Sylvan system. C'mon, this is a blog . . . a place where people can post their thoughts and experiences with the subject being discussed.

    That said, I've been in supplemental education for 10 years. I started at the bottom, directed at several centers, and managed several centers. I've worked for a competitor of Sylvan and now I'm at Sylvan. I've also run an intervention program in two low-performing high schools, so I'd like to think I have some experience at this.

    My initial post was designed to express empathy to those folks who may have had a bad experience with Sylvan because of the way their particular center(s) were owned and operated. I don't want to invalidate their experience(s); in fact, it inspires me to do something about it.
    As for the comment I made on the quality of the programs, I stand by that claim. I stand by that claim not because Sylvan has an entire department of educators and curriculum specialists who designed the programs, not because they've been accredited, not because of the ton of research they've done during development, but . . . the ONE and ONLY reason is because my PARENTS and my STAFF see RESULTS. It's the parents who report the gains at school and improved skill and motivation with their children's homework. The kids experience the progress as well.

    The notion that a company like Sylvan could exist for 30 years by duping all their customers to spend thousands of dollars on programs that don't work seems to be an extreme position to me.
    As I said before, I know quality varies because of implementation. Your comments appear to suggest that the only reason Sylvan works for some kids is because the teachers who teach the programs have to work around the Sylvan curriculum. I couldn't disagree more. The owners and operators of Sylvan would simply go nuts if they were given an unworkable program that only a few teachers could implement; and where only "some kids" found success. Sylvan would be hard-pressed to find potential franchisees to invest in a business model with such a bad reputation and programs that don't work. In fact, many Sylvan owners are themselves retired professional educators (e.g. principals and teachers).

    For the rest of you who are reading this blog, especially parents and non-educators, just know that educators are going to have strong and varied opinions on this subject matter. You should take everything you read with a grain of salt (my comments included).

    As for the teacher pay issue . . . $8/hr is too low, especially in California. I know no one who pays their teachers that low. My advice to anyone looking for part-time work as a teacher is to ask questions. Don't just assume the worst, ask the owner and find out how decisions effecting pay are made. If you don't like her/his explanation, then move on. But don't think that running your own tutoring operation on the side is a walk in the park. When you factor in the cost of materials, travel to and from private residences, acquiring your customers, parent conferences, insurance, Schedule C taxes (your going to do this legally, right?), etc., etc., etc. I'm not sure that $35-$50/hr takes you that far. Ask any independent plumber or electrician about how much of their "hourly wage" goes into business expenses and you'll get my point.
    My teachers don't have to put up with any of that nonsense. They get good pay for a part-time job. A job that doesn't require anywhere near the level of time and effort that goes into running a classroom on a FT basis. How can you compare a FT classroom teaching job's salary/hourly wage with a part-time teaching hourly wage when the actual duties are so very, very different? Ask any FT teacher how hard they work and how much responsibility they have in, and out, of the classroom, then compare it with a few hours of teaching on the side, and you'll understand my point here.
    Oh, and one last point, the notion that any teacher can simply walk in a bookstore and build a child a unique, individualized curriculum does a disservice to the folks who devote their lives to curriculum design. Is every electrician an electrical engineer? Is every carpenter an architect? Yes, I'm sure there are many teachers who can build their own curriculum, but if they are really honest about the time, effort, and expense they'd have to put into it, I'm not sure they'd feel so great about that $40/hr. I think it's a terrific benefit for teachers who teach at Sylvan to just come in and teach, and not have to worry about lesson plans, materials, etc., etc. They come in, they teach, they go home.

    But, of course, I'm sure some folks have had it differently. With 1,100 centers in North America, I'm sure someone is doing something that drives their staff nuts. But the vast majority of centers must be doing something right, otherwise you'd see centers shuttering their doors left and right.

    That's it. Let's be clear . . . there are different points-of-view and different experiences on this blog. Thanks for reading.

  190. California Guy,

    You have great points. I think you are right that Sylvan would not be successful if their program didn't help. However, I think you are wrong that a teacher cannot build a custom made program very quickly and easily based on a child's needs.

    A well-qualified teacher could do this in a heartbeat. I would not need to even go to the book store. I would give a developmental spelling test to see how a child is decoding. Next I would give the QRI (Qualitative Reading Inventory) to assess oral reading, silent reading and listening comprehension. Also using the same test for words per minute, fluency, implicit and explicit comprehension skills, reading in context and out of context and narrative and expository reading skills. If I needed additional assessments like a phonemic awareness test, or reading subskills tests, they are all in my classroom. If a child needed tutoring in math, I have would have them take the Aleks computerized math assessment if they are 3rd grade or above, or I would do activities with them and assess their math knowledge if they were below that level.

    My point is that while I understand that Sylvan has a right to make money, and I applaud the business for providing a needed service, they are not the best. A great teacher is the best. Parents just have to know that they are out there and ask around. I would want the expert working with my child at all times, which you cannot provide, because I don't work for Sylvan. Most expert teachers do not work at Sylvan.

    In addition, my report would be given openly to parents, I would explain exactly what a child needs and provide them guidance on how to work with them at home so that tutoring does not break the bank and my ultimate goal would be to get a child on grade level as fast as possible. My report would be so clear that the parent could tell a different tutor what their child needs if they wanted to. Does Sylvan do that? Or are Sylvan's assessments private, not given to parents to look at for themselves? Are the before and after assessments given to the parent to keep?

    While I charge $40 an hour, there is no huge contract, there is no initial assessment fees, and I provide clear information about at child's needs and progress.

    There are many experts like me. I work with amazing teachers. Most would tutor if offered what I charge.

  191. Proud Expert, thanks for the civil response and not attacking my point-of-view.

    I'm sure you are an expert teacher and find it easy to build curricula on an individualized basis, but not many teachers I know are designing individual programs for their kids; even the ones I visit in schools who don't work at Sylvan and tutor on the side.

    That said, most of the assessment materials Sylvan uses are from outside, non-Sylvan sources. Sylvan is not in the educational publishing business, and we show parents the actual assessment materials after their children have tested. We have nothing to hide from parents. Most parents find the reports easy to understand as well; I mean directors aren't going to waste their time on reports that add no value AND if reports are confusing parents they will lose confidence in the program.

    As for a long contract, we don't use one; but it brings up the point about tuition and how long it really takes to help a child. If most teachers are charging $40/hr and they work with a child that is 2-3 years behind in reading, how many hours of tutoring are they telling the family it's going to take to get that child to grade level? 30 hours? 60? 100? So then, Sylvan isn't that expensive after all is it? I mean an expert isn't going to make a false promise to a parent and say that in 20 hours that child is going to be caught up. My issue with many private tutors is that they don't communicate the reality of a child's situation upfront; i.e. they don't tell the family what the total cost of tuition will be, just the hourly rate. Then what invariably happens is that kids come 1-2 hours a week to see their tutor, and the parent eventualy asks; 1) "Why is this taking so long?" And 2) "I didn't know it was going to cost this much?" They then end up in my office because I tell them everything up-front, before they join, so they truly know what it's going to take in terms of time and money.

    Don't forget, most Sylvan kids have already done the private tutor thing, and the after-school program thing. At least that's the case in many CA centers.

    Back to teacher pay: One of the bloggers says that s/he is making $45-$50K as a professional teacher. That sounds right. Then let's do some math. Let's say s/he makes that in a 10 month school year, and then makes an add'l three grand over the summer working summer school. We'll say s/he makes an even $50K for the year. Now, most teachers are making in the ballpark of $43K for their FT teaching responsibilities, but we'll say this particular teachers pulls in $50K. Divide $50K by 52 weeks, and divide again by 40 hours a week, and you get . . . . $24/hr! (Some teachers are laughing right now at the 40/hr a week part, because they know in reality it's closer to 50/hr+ a week once you add in the work they take home . . . which means her/his hourly wage is closer to $19.20/hr).

    So I ask you, is anywhere between $12 - $18/hr (depending on your geography) such an insult if the position is part-time with far less responsibility?

    I just want folks to know that Sylvan pays part-time people part-time wages and full-time people full-time wages. Any teacher who wants to work FT at Sylvan will (or should) find very comparable, if not better, compensation than the classroom.

    I guess it comes down to this, if you like private tutoring, if you like selling and marketing your services, if you like preparing reports and curriculum, if you enjoy doing all the parent conferences and answering the phone by yourself, and handling all the business matters, then you ARE worth the $40-$50/hr your getting paid because you are doing a lot more than just teaching.

    But if you just want to teach for a few hours, motivate some students who are having a tough time, and then go home (and have other people take care of all that other administrative crap (as one blogger put it), then maybe you won't mind working for a few dollars less an hour for just doing the part of the job you love. In the end, no one is going to force you to do it, it's your choice to make.

    And finally, if you're averaging 3-4 hours a shift, 3-4 times a week, rather than tutor a few times a week for a higher hourly rate, you're probably going to supplement your income more effectively and NOT have to deal with everything I mentioned above.

    Maybe Sylvan isn't so bad after all if you just want to teach part-time.

    Proud Teacher, I want you to know that if you met me, I really do have a good sense of humor. I think I'm going to go tell my teachers right now that I've just found out that they are not real experts! LOL No, but seriously, thank you for your thoughtful comments and well-reasoned point of view.

  192. Thank you for enlightening me. You have me convinced. You have very valid points. My comments on this site have never been about the pay, though. I understand supply and demand. If I wasn't a control freak and assessment addict, I might work for you. I can definitely tell that you are fit to run a business and seem like a great boss. Good luck to you. I am glad to know that you take such pride and have passion for what you do as well. I also was glad to hear that assessments are not so confidential. I did not get that impression from this site.

    Now for some selfish information, how do you determine how long it will take to remediate a student? For example, what if they have a learning disability? How can you estimate how long that will take to remediate? Do you use a formula? Do you diagnose a learning disability?

  193. Proud Expert said on November 19, 2007:

    Now for some selfish information, how do you determine how long it will take to remediate a student? For example, what if they have a learning disability? How can you estimate how long that will take to remediate? Do you use a formula? Do you diagnose a learning disability?

    Erik may nix this conversation b/c it's unrelated to teacher pay; but the answer to "how long it takes" isn't a simple one, and it's why I made the point that we do a disservice to the folks who spend countless hours developing programs and compatible technology to do that type of calculus. I mean the general gist of it is that you a) assess, b) analyze, skill by skill, c) match skills to lessons, d) then add the number of lessons assigned a student, and finally e) factor a range of hours based on the average time it takes students to master the assigned lessons. Sounds simple enough, but it isn't as easy as it sounds. And the calculus isn't given to the parent as a hard number, but as an estimate . . . but it's a darn good etimate. There's human input as well, by the directors, so you need to know what you're doing.
    As for disabilities, they are wild cards and given the different kinds of disabilities, and the different degrees at which they effect kids you simply cannot put yourself in a position where you over-promise. Each situation is different and has to be treated that way; but most parents of kids with diagnosed LD's know this already.

  194. I am sure Erik won't delete this because it is indirectly about pay.

    Many parents I am sure come into your facility thinking their child is "behind" when they may have a disability. Does your testing pick this up?

  195. Proud Expert said on November 20, 2007:

    I am sure Erik won't delete this because it is indirectly about pay.

    I won't, but let's get back to an area that's not quite as loosely connedcted to the actual topic.

  196. Well bravo.

    A series of posts with well thought out points, and long restatements of opinions. In fact, there is only one thing that, honestly, I could take as food for thought. 1,100 centers throughout the country, and the people writing here perhaps deal with, at most, 5-10 of those, including myself. That would mean, as stated by EVERYONE on this blog, that experiences will be different.

    As I have more that ten times before, I applaud those who have had great experiences. Many on this blog have said Sylvan works for some.
    The program, however, is quite flawed, mainly because it is developed by your "team of curriculum professionals", many of whom I have personally met, who are so out of touch with educational reality that their ideas are more suited to regimented private schools than the ever changing public ones.
    Sylvan's program also relies on the person implementing it, as you have stated before (This is it's major flaw as I have stated before, teachers can take the chaos and make great programs, but not all).
    My experience with Sylvan's "curriculum" is simple, it was a jumbled mix of a thousand ideas all thrown together, with no continuity except that put in by book updaters, whose qualifications were dubious at best. Perhaps your experience is different, we all speak about what we know.
    In my mind Sylvan's program is self-serving, exam driven rubbish that puts blame on teachers and studens when it doesn't work, all the while paying them next to nothing. How many teachers stay at Sylvan consistantly? Not sure about you, but at our local Sylvan it is a revolving door each month.

    On another note:

    Experience in supplemental education is interesting, in the opinion of one teacher, that's alot like the minor leagues of education. At Sylvan you recieve students, apply your program and can either succeed or not, but in truth, mostly because of the contract you have parents sign, will get your money either way. At a public or even some private schools, where grades count and futures cling to the report cards, we do not have the luxury of dealing with parents in this way. You cannot explain away results with bogus reports or fancy corporate lingo, and I question anyone who claims these two realms are even close to the same. Sure, we get paid whether students pass or fail, but if enough of them fail we lose our jobs. Granted, not the best system, but it is reality.

    I applaud you if you were a real teacher with real students, and if so would expect that you know better the difference between these things. But please, do not rattle off a supplemetal education resume and expect to impress or intimidate anyone, instead get on the ground with the troops and help solve the educational system rather than pick the bones of desperate parents.

    Also, I did note your work with at risk youth, that is truly noble work and you deserve many kudos for that. Having worked there myself, and not to sound hypocrtical, I know how tough that is. Remember those days please, and if you are as wonderful at helping kids educationally as you say, why won't you return to the public schools, we need people with drive more than ever.

  197. Smith said on November 20, 2007:

    The program, however, is quite flawed, mainly because it is developed by your "team of curriculum professionals", many of whom I have personally met, who are so out of touch with educational reality that their ideas are more suited to regimented private schools than the ever changing public ones.

    Smear their names and their work all you want; in the end customers (i.e. parents) just care about results. In private industry you don't get to stay in business unless you deliver results to your customers. As I said before, the owners and directors would be crying foul if all they had were unworkable programs that didn't deliver.

    Smith said on November 20, 2007:

    Experience in supplemental education is interesting, in the opinion of one teacher, that's alot like the minor leagues of education.

    Personal attacks: Okay, Smith, I guess I'm just a minor leaguer who has had so much success at helping kids in a learning center setting that I've just decided to squander my life away in this fruitless endeavor.

    Smith said on November 20, 2007:

    At Sylvan you recieve students, apply your program and can either succeed or not, but in truth, mostly because of the contract you have parents sign, will get your money either way.

    As I said above, we don't do contracts. If a parent isn't seeing results, they can leave. If they've pre-paid tuition, they can get a refund of any balance owed them.
    You sure do describe a heck of a way to run a service business.

    Smith said on November 20, 2007:

    At a public or even some private schools, where grades count and futures cling to the report cards, we do not have the luxury of dealing with parents in this way. You cannot explain away results with bogus reports or fancy corporate lingo, and I question anyone who claims these two realms are even close to the same. Sure, we get paid whether students pass or fail, but if enough of them fail we lose our jobs. Granted, not the best system, but it is reality.

    Hmm, I wonder why people even bother looking for tutoring then, if all we do is rip parents off and lie to them. Parents don't seek out private tutors and learning centers because they are frustrated with private tutors and learning centers, they seek out private tutors and learning centers because their kids are having a difficult time in school. And they don't stay with private tutors and learning centers because they are unhappy, they stay because they are seeing results IN SCHOOL and at home.
    As I said before, your assumption that parents can be easily duped by fancy reports and bogus information is extreme and conveys a low opinion of a parent's ability to comprehend what's best for her/his child's education.
    As for your point about schools not having the luxury to mislead parents, and how grades mean something, I agree. But my office gets filled with stories about how good Johnny's grades were the year before and why is it that he's having such a tough time this year. After we do our "bogus testing" the answer is staring us in the face; then we ask the parent to bring in her/his copy of her/his school standardized tests scores just to confirm it. My experience is that grades measure many things, like diligent completion of coursework and/or meeting and exceeding the teacher's expectations; but they do not always translate into the required skills needed to promote to the next grade or class. If grades did such a perfect job of this, there wouldn't be a need for standards-based testing.

    Smith said on November 20, 2007:

    I applaud you if you were a real teacher with real students, and if so would expect that you know better the difference between these things. But please, do not rattle off a supplemetal education resume and expect to impress or intimidate anyone, instead get on the ground with the troops and help solve the educational system rather than pick the bones of desperate parents.

    Keep the applause for yourself, Smith. Since you appear to be the only person with experience worth having. Talk about picking bones; you appear to have many to pick with me or anyone else who may have a different point-of-view than yours.
    As for my experience, I don't use my experience to impress or intimidate anyone. In my original post I didn't even mention it. I only mentioned my experience after your first attempt to discredit my thoughts on the subject.
    Where I work, experience counts for nothing unless you deliver for your parents and students.

    Smith said on November 20, 2007:

    Also, I did note your work with at risk youth, that is truly noble work and you deserve many kudos for that. Having worked there myself, and not to sound hypocrtical, I know how tough that is. Remember those days please, and if you are as wonderful at helping kids educationally as you say, why won't you return to the public schools, we need people with drive more than ever.

    I work at Sylvan precisely because of my work in those high school intervention programs. I've learned and lived the value of working with kids in a more individualized way, and I think many kids need more than just classroom/group instruction. I applaud all educators everywhere; whether or not they teach in a classroom, work with children individually, or choose to work with kids in a learning center setting. Schools do an incredibly important thing, but they can't do everything. Given the length and scope of a child's education, kids are bound to run into situations where they will need a program like Sylvan or the help of an individual tutor. Don't try to make me feel bad for not working in public schools; I've got plenty of important work to do here in my center.

  198. Apparently Sylvan has found a successful business plan. If they are finding all the teachers they need at 8-10 dollars an hour and filling their seats with students at $40 an hour and more, the market forces are working perfectly. If they weren't finding teachers and students at those prices the Sylvan centers would not exist.
    It's that old law of supply and demand --works every time, like it or not.

  199. If you really want to learn how Sylvan selects their instructors and creates their curriculum, take a look at this.

    http://www.sylvan-tutoring.com/pdfs/Sylvan-Tutoring-Research.pdf

  200. I just asked my landlord if I could pay him with the light in my students eyes and was horrified to learn that he just wasn't into it.

  201. I read this thread with interest after stumbling upon it while looking for some information about tutoring. When I tutored college students in my area, I charged $30/hour but that did not include the time spent preparing for the sessions and one of my "adult" students did not want to be charged for simply failing to show at the appointed hour and wasting my time.

    I have discovered that the Sylvan centers in my area administer the initial diagnostic test at no charge and then use the results to develop a program of individualized instruction. I don't know what they pay beginning teachers because I didn't apply when I found out that I would have to take and pass the Praxis test to be considered for a position. I did well in every math class I took in high school, except for Algebra II and scored WAY above my own expectations on the SAT. Forty (40) years ago! I have forgotten more about math than most of Sylvan's clients have ever learned.

    My point is that, to be hired in this geographical area, at least, one has to be certified to current standards for public school teachers. And I noted in the business pages where the local center was honoring current employees for years of service so it must not be too bad a place to work. So to keep employees Sylvan must offer more than other part-time jobs. And it's unlikely that a tutor would not be able to explain a math problem.

    Public school teachers in this area start at a salary that is higher than beginning many local college professors with a PhD and will see their salaries increase faster. That possibly reflects the strength of unions rather than the efficacy of teachers or the amount of preparation. But neither salary scale actually depends on instructional results and thus one has well-paid but ineffective teachers in both settings. I doubt a Sylvan tutor who was unable to work their program would be retained.

    No one program works for every student. But don't plunk down major bucks in one payment. Go for installments and expect to see results. If you do decide to go to a Sylvan-like program, the comments here can equip you to ask some very good questions.

    P.S. Some of the typos in various comments have to be a function of the slow response of the site to keyboard strokes.

  202. I can't tell you how many times I've smiled and laughed out loud to the posts-I thought I was the only one who thought Sylvan was bunk!
    After teaching in the Bay Area (Northern California) for 5 years, I moved to Orange Co., but after applying to numerous districts, started the school year without a class. It was all about "who you knew" to get a job, let alone a sub assignment, so I had to look for other opportunities-hence my stint with Sylvan-and I was Teacher of the Year for heaven's sake! In my relatively short teaching career, I had the wonderful opportunity to work with a wide range of grades and abilities, from special education to gifted studies, so I was probably over qualified.
    My starting salary was $11/hr, which at first I thought ok, however, I was only able to work 4 hrs a day because that's all the hours they offered for tutoring. And then it happened, they asked me to come in and help administer diagnostic tests to prospective students and put parent packets together...I found out how much bank these families were forking over!!! I was reeling from the discrepency of payment when, not only did my students have to put up with worn out and abused teaching materials, but I was getting paid $11 when at my table sat $120+ worth of tuition. Luckily, Spring brought a new batch of teacher positions and I landed in a wonderful private school. An elementary teacher, I was constantly fed high schoolers, whom I was unable to assist in their study programs, while I'm sure (as the poster above stated as well) families were assured we were all fully qualified.
    From that day on, if I ever heard a student's parents talk about taking them to Sylvan, I did all I could to dissuade them from doing so. Just last year, I had a family who had enrolled their son; I don't know why, he was very bright and excelled in all areas; but I'm sure when Sylvan realized this, they fed the parents a line of bull so long that they said they were giving him "enrichment". Imagine their surprise when I called them and told them I knew full well they didn't have such a program. Needless to say, the Sylvan center did their darnedest to persuade the parents otherwise but lost the battle. (His parents thanked me for sparing them the agony!)
    After reading almost all the postings here, I find it very interesting that most of the more adamant and vocal supporters of Sylvan's program are the directors and managers.....call me crazy but I think there's something to that!
    I wish we lived in a world that valued and supported (and that means professionally, emotionally AND financially!) superior teachers that give it their all everyday so that no parent would have to go into debt to get the help their child deserves inside the classroom. If we did, maybe I'd still be teaching full time instead of looking for other opportunities. Best of luck to you all :o)

  203. I just enrolled my child in Sylvan. When he came to us ( foster child), he was at least two years behind in reading. He had large phonetic gaps even though his IQ is well above average. He has been enrolled in Sylvan for over one month. He attends 6 hours a week. We chose Sylvan after having him tutored an hour a week for over a year by a reading specialist at his school, enrolling him in public school summer reading program, and specialized help from teachers in the school day. We were not seeing results fast enough with an hour a week and the tutor was not willing to see him more frequently. The private tutor did not have access to testing like Sylvan does. She knew that our child had gaps, but not specifically what skills needed to be addressed. One of Sylvan's diagnostic tests is the California Achievement Test. This is a respected testing instrument. If Sylvan wanted to rip us off and use tests to prove it, they could have told us our child needed math tutoring also. They didn't. They showed us that he is a year beyond his grade level in math. Our child loves going and we are seeing results. Self-esteem is improving and reading fluency is improving. I am a teacher with 31 years experience. There is no way I could have the materials or the curriculum to address his needs. If you are counting on a private tutor to have all the materials to address those needs, it won't happen. The child's textbook is not going to help much either. Many of these kids are years behind or have gaps that should have been addressed in first or second grade.

  204. CK said on December 4, 2007:

    The private tutor did not have access to testing like Sylvan does.

    Anyone who has access to *the internet* can come up with as good an assessment tool as what Sylvan uses.

    And any remotely decent teacher could come up with a curriculum based on skill needs. Seriously, how hard is it to pick up a book entitled "Main idea: Grade 4" if you know your student needs to learn main idea at fourth grade level?

    That's all what Sylvan does. It isn't some mystical process: they just teach the test. In the real world, teachers aren't commended for that, but at Sylvan, that's "success."

  205. Some of you sure sound bitter. If it were so easy for a "remotely decent teacher" to come up with curriculum, then children wouldn't be behind. If you don't like Sylvan, don't enroll your child. If your child is enrolled and you are unhappy, take your child out. If you have prepaid, ask for a refund. If you don't like the salary, don't work there. It's just that simple. Not everyone will see results with the same kind of program. That is what makes teaching a challenge. Maybe those people who are unhappy should find some other method of tutoring or helping their child. If it's as easy as looking on the internet and finding an assessment and going to a store and finding a workbook, then do it yourself. It's not; or you all wouldn't be looking for help.

  206. I do know people who love the enrichment work at Sylvan. I also have a friend who takes her son to Sylvan, yet after five months...he was still "struggling" in Math. I am an Engineer and took many required college mathmetics courses, so she asked me to help her 6th grader.
    After a few minutes...I gauged that he did not know his times tables/ fact families for division. I sent her to a teacher store for some flash cards. He got A's on his follwing two tests.
    I understand that Sylvan may be helping in other areas that I didn't see, but I was personally disappointed that no one at Sylvan had stressed to my friend that for her student to do well, that student first had to memorize those basics.
    As far as "study skills" go... I have a cousin who says Huntinton saved the world as far as her son's acedemics go. He's always been bright...but at some point he was struggling and nearly did not pass 5th grade. They taught him organization and study skills. He since then has done well and is a 3.8 student in a strongly ranked private school. (He's 9th grade now) She says now she worries of the opposite...in regards to his school work, he's a competivie perfectionist and she has to force him to leave his school work to go to bed once it's "good enough."

  207. Wow! How upsetting! I am a Center Director at a Sylvan franchise and love my job. Every day I see students succeed and become better because they were able to close the skill gaps they were missing in previous grades. I could not even count the number of parents who could back me up on how great this program really is- it is endless at our center. The pay is good for directors, and my teachers start at $10/hr with bonuses and raises. They have no prep work, or paper grading. They don't have to no ANYTHING other than sit and teach. If you divide the amount that classroom teachers make, by the workload it ends up about $1/hr, so it is a pretty good deal. I did not get my job because of who I know. I started as a teacher and worked my way up! I knew noone when I started! Same goes for my peers. For those of you who had a poor working experience with Sylvan, sadly you must been bad at your job and want to blame someone else. If you truly loved to teach and believed in kids, you would know that this is the real thing.

  208. Erik J. Barzeski said on January 18, 2007:

    Dawn Covello said on January 18, 2007:

    I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education (my second Bachelor's degree by the way).

    Dawn, you may or may not be a good teacher. I obviously can't know. But please don't use "I got good grades and two degrees" as proof that you're a good teacher. It doesn't prove - or disprove - anything.

    I agree! Furthermore, a majority of recent grads spouting the complaint Dawn has are not willing to teach in inner city classrooms where a majority of the children would benefit from--but may not necessarily afford--individualized attention.

    Bottom line: Sylvan is a business. Education begins at home before carrying over into the classroom.

  209. I wanted to throw something out there that hasn't been mentioned yet.

    Some teachers who work at Sylvan are STAY AT HOME parents like me! There are many qualified teachers who have chosen to stay home because they want to raise their own children. I made that choice--and it was a hard one.

    My point is that SYLVAN might be a good job for certified teachers who only want to teach part-time.

  210. Jan Zeiger said on January 6, 2008:

    My point is that SYLVAN might be a good job for certified teachers who only want to teach part-time.

    Or, per my original post, you could make more money, charge parents less, and have a bigger impact on kids by tutoring 1-on-1 within your schedule. Instead, you make less, cost parents more, and have minimal impact by using Sylvan.

  211. Yes, but when you have your own tutoring business, you have to invest money in advertising. You are responsible for connecting with potential clients.

    I'm not saying Sylvan is the way to go. I was responding to the way you insulted teachers who work at Sylvan by saying that they're the ones who can't find a job or aren't good at what they do.

  212. Is sylvan really that bad I was going to ask my mom to sign me up but if it's really that bad then forget it they won't be getting any of my mom and dad's money just so they can cheat us out of our money. I was thinking but am I better off with a home tutor or should I just go whith sylvan????? :neutral: :???:

  213. I am a certified teacher in the Indianapolis area and worked for Sylvan as a part-time tutor because I needed the extra money to pay off student loans. Long story short, Sylvan rips off parents, students, and their own teachers. Parents pay between $40-45 per hour and this is NOT for individualized instruction, although they mislead parents into thinking this is the case. No, students generally sit three per table with only one tutor per hour so they receive very little individualized instrution. To make matters worse, the three students at each table usually are from different grades, different ability levels, and are working on different subjects!

    Tutors do not have much time to interact one-on-one with the students since there are three students at once working on different subjects in different grades and tutors also keep busy completing worthless progress enteries and "prescribing" lessons for the next session.

    While parents are paying between $40-45 per hour, I only made $9 per hour when I worked at Sylvan Indianapolis and did not receive a raise in my two years there. When I inquired about a raise, I was told that the "ownders do not like to give raises, but I could earn a whopping .25 more per hour if I took Sylvan tests and got certified in math! Many of my co-workers had not had a raise in 3-4 years, despite their hard work.

    Furthermore, Sylvan is a rip-off as their student worksheets are "canned" and do not match the student's homework.

  214. My grandson went to Sylvan for 1yr. Sylvan was great as far as their teaching skills. The only problem I have is the cost. We are still paying on a loan for over $9,000.00 for that one year. Why aren't there any federal grants available to help with the cost. Public schools have to many children in the classroom. In a lot of cases really don't want to take the time to help a child that my not understand on the same level as another.
    Bev.

  215. I work at another company that is similar to Sylvan. The teachers there get paid $25-$35/hr depending on experience. I heard Sylvan has bad teachers, since they are willing to work for $8/hr. That's so sad. Don't send your kids there.

  216. One thing I am concerned about is whether students are diagnosed with learning disabilities from Sylvan.

    Parents,
    If your child is below grade level in school, you need to call a meeting with not only the child's teacher, but the intervention team. There is a process that parents need to push for. It is called the intervention process.

    There has been new legislation passed called "Response to Intervention" Google it on the internet. Basically, it says that teachers have to have specific interventions for children that are below grade level and report the results to the team. Meet with the team and then ask the team where you can find resources to speed up the process if you don't feel the intervention provided by the teacher is enough. Demand more interventions. You have the control. Schools just don't advertise it.

  217. Testing does not show a learning disability. It only shows a gap between IQ and performance. The gap could be a disability or it could be that the child has missed something somewhere. Sylvan also doesn't test for dyslexia. Our child receives special services from the school, but getting teachers to follow the IEP is another story. Teachers are so stressed and have so much to do that sometimes kids just fall in the cracks. It's not acceptable, but it just happens sometimes.

    The parents on this blog that have children in Sylvan are at least trying to address their child's problems. My hat is off to them.

  218. Reading these comments makes my blood boil! I have been teaching for 10 years in the public school system, and I LOVE my job! :mrgreen: At the beginning of my teaching career, I took a summer job at a Sylvan learning center. After 3 miserable weeks, I quit. The materials were so outdated. I think they had a basal from when I was in second grade called "Pug". They supposedly tested these children and developed prescriptions for them. They wanted me to work on vocabulary everyday with this one little girl because they said she needed help in this area. She didn't know the words because she couldn't READ! I went to the director to gently suggest that I work on helping her decode words, not memorize the meaning of them. No luck. I quit. I refused to work in a place that had NO IDEA about educating children, and they only paid me $8.00 an hour. I did not go to college for $8/hr.

    PARENTS...THINK! If you are paying someone to tell you what's wrong with your child, you had better believe they are going to FIND something wrong; or else they don't keep getting paid. I'm not saying that most children that go there don't need extra attention, but as another person said earlier, I would pay a private tutor $30, $40, $50/hr to work with my child before I would set foot in an antiquated Sylvan. Contact your child's school. The counselor will be able to provide you with a list of certified teachers in the district that tutor. They are THE MOST knowledgeable of whatever state mandated test skills are needed.

    Whoever posted earlier that schools don't have the ability to pinpoint gaps in learning has clearly never worked in a real school. To my knowledge Sylvan charges $600+ for diagnostic testing. School districts do this for free, and WE HAVE THE CUTTING EDGE MATERIALS. This is what we do. Parents, learn your rights! You have so many. Every child is legally entitled to a FREE education.

    Whoever posted about being appreciative of Sylvan teachers working with them... I have one thing to say to this. I am so tired of receiving forms in my box to fill out about one of my students. REAL classroom teachers have more work to do in one day than most people do in a week. Do not put a form in a teacher's box to fill out with a note on it saying you expect it faxed back to you the next day! If your testing is so cutting edge, then why do you need my input on a particular student?

    Parents... hire a private tutor. It will cost you less, and you'll get better results. Last year one of my 7th graders was attending Sylvan for math. His mother was mad at me because she couldn't understand why he was scoring 100's on his work at Sylvan, yet failing my class. What they failed to mention to the mother was that they were giving him work on his level which was 5th grade. He was not doing 7th grade work. The teachers at Sylvan were dishonest with her and so who was she mad at? Me. I was the one who was "failing" her child. (this is my last soapbox statement) Teacher's don't fail students. Students do the work, turn it in, teachers grade it, and enter it into the computer. PERIOD!

  219. In response to an earlier comment from a Sylvan Director that teachers should be more interested teaching and less concerned about the level of compensation (and after all they are receiving such wonderful "snacks"), I believe the teachers should organize a union to get the fees they deserve.

  220. :???:

    I've had mixed experiences while working for Sylvan. I started at one in Portland, where I was paid $9 an hour to train, and $10 an hour after that. I was a fully certified teacher at this point. While I sincerely enjoyed tutoring the kiddies, I hated the system there. It seemed like I had to write the same thing in about five different places. Furthermore, I had to "update the books" at the end of each shift. This means I was planning the next lesson for each student. As a regular classroom teacher, this would mean finding appropriate material, and might take fifteen minutes per student. However, because Sylvan is like the McDonalds of tutoring, everything is standardized. In other words, they don't trust their teachers to know what is best for the kids, so they have a very specific way to progress through curriculum. The sucky part was, I got an hour to update all of my students' binders, regardless of how many kids I had that day. If I didn't finish, the education director had to do it. She was there until at least 9 pm every night, after arriving around 9 in the morning.

    I've also worked at the Sylvan in Reno, and had a much more positive experience. The center was beautiful, with cheerful murals on the walls. The kids got a ten-minute transition play period while teachers prepared for the next round of kids. Best of all, I didn't have to update-- they had two full-time people specifically for this. Way more sensical. And I got paid another dollar an hour because they didn't have to train me. Finally, I will mention that most of the tutors in the Reno center were college students, and not certified.

    This difference has to do with a couple of things:
    1) Portland has a completely saturated teacher market, so teachers are sometimes desperate to get any education work they can find.
    2) The Sylvan in Reno is part of the corporate Sylvan structure, whereas the one in Portland is franchised.

    Also, keep in mind that many teachers don't make enough through their regular day jobs, so they take after-school jobs at Sylvan. This speaks to the lameness of our education system, not to Sylvan.

    For people looking for tutoring, I would suggest that you find a great personal tutor outside of Sylvan if you can. If you can't, Sylvan will work. Just make sure you visit the center and that your child feels comfortable and supported there.

  221. We just got fluency testing results from our child's school. Our child was 2 grade levels behind in reading when he went to Sylvan. His latest test results from the school show that he was at words per minute rate of 67 in Sept. and he is now at 161 words per minute (above grade level.) He started sylvan in October. We are extremely pleased. Not only did the fluency rate increase, but the comprehension (as tested by his school) is now above grade level. We had previously been paying for a private tutor for an hour each week. We are really pleased.

  222. Christy,

    I was born in July and didn't need to be kept back because of my age... being 6 in the first grade is normal. For peace of mind, I'd at least go through the testing phase at Sylvan. We just did this with both of our girls with surprizing results... one was a year ahead and the other two years ahead based on Sylvan's reading test. The results will at least give you an outsiders opinion on your child's abilities that you can take with you to discuss with the teachers and administrators at your school. We have conferences this coming Tuesday and I plan to do just that with our results in an attempt to find out whether the problems we've had are based on classroom environment, teacher expectations, my child's motivation (or lack of) or her learning style.

    BTW, I'm shocked at the number of people who are slamming Sylvan when they cannot select the proper form of the word "their" or "there" for their sentance. Yes, this does include one of the Sylvan directors whose comments I've read this morning.

  223. Josie,

    I agree Sylvan makes my blood boil. Let me explain I took my daughter for 8 months and she never raised her grades. When I asked about the policy they explained that be casue she needed the basic it did not apply. My daughter was in second grade she is 9yrs old and she is a summer baby I held her back in first grade going from a private school to a public school. When I first took her in I asked if they found a learning disablity or they just couldn't help her would they let me know and I was assured that they would. Well!!! I am still waiting I took my daughter to a clinic that tests and they said she has Deslexia . When I e-mailed Sylvan they sent me a note stating that they don't check for learning disablities and she quoted a bunch of comments off their website about how good they are and how they help students. I told her my daughter has been with you for 8 months and no progress and it doesn't occur THAT SHE HAS A PROBLEM!! I am very disappointed in the program they wanted her to do 72 hrs
    and all I could afford was 2 hours a week. That's still 82.00 a week x4 .I would have liked had she called me when they noticed that my child was no longer attending and maybe asked is something going on anything we can do or even your right we should have caught it. But they didn't so you know what every parent I talk to I will tell them that my local center is great foe homework minder helper but at 41.oo an hr they are better off helping their own child. My daughter is now getting the help she needs at school and I have her at a speech and reading program that is geared towards her learning disablity.

  224. As a former employee of Sylvan I am saddened by the negative responses in this Blog. I worked in the Bay Area with an amazing team of teachers, center directors, and education directors. My initial pay was $10 p/hr, but after two years of extra training, time on the job, and performance increases I was earning $13.75 p/hr.

    Our center was set up in the Sylvan standard of 3-1 desks, 10 minute transition times, and the Prescription Binders. Our center was set up to use the transition time to interact on a relaxed basis with the students or take care of personal needs. At the end of the night we were given 5 minutes to "update" each binder. For new hires this simply means to jot down personal notations of a child's behavior or working style/ability. For more seasoned teachers they could also put in the next hour's lessons. During a four hour work schedule 4pm - 8pm I would see 12 students, which meant I had 60 minutes to update at the end of the night (with pay). By the time two years had passed, I could do all of my binders and update a number of binders for newer teachers. Yes the style is prescribed and what is taught is chosen, but it has been done after hundreds of hours of research.

    For a parent to say they didn't know that their child was not going to get individualized tutoring is bunk. Before any child is admitted they and their parents are taken for a tour of the Sylvan Center. Since 99% of them are set up in the same style a parent would be oblivious to the 3-1 tables in front of them. As for the 3-1, each child had work to do as one was working on an assignment that they could do alone for a couple of minutes, I could start child two on their assignment, then I could give a spelling or site word test to the third, with pauses I could check on students one and two. No one was without individualized help they just weren't alone.

    As for the $250 diagnostic test, I have seen students pass as well but they are failing school anyway. Many times this is due to poor study skills and Sylvan does have help for that, along with Homework Help. It is important to remember though that the child's and the parent's attitude has an effect on how well a program will work. Most centers use a points/checkbook system for rewards and the older students were a bit turned off by the kiddie stuff. After a discussion we chose to get Target/Starbuck's/restaurant gift cards at $5 a piece. The students could purchase them at 75 points each (about every 9-10 hours of instruction), most saved the Target ones to buy CD's or DVD's on Sylvan, or every couple of weeks got a coffee or burger on the center.

    Additionally, on three occassions when I was in the center while they were doing testing I saw the testers catch 2 eye problems and a hearing problem. They immediately informed the parents and asked them to get the children checked out medically and they could finish the test at a later date, but their health was more important.

    I could probably go on about the positive aspects of Sylvan. I have seen the good it can produce, even in two students of my own that I recommended (and no, there was no kickback or bonus for them signing up). I hope if you have a struggling student you will consider Sylvan it might be a bigger benefit than you could ever imagine.

  225. I am considering applying at a Huntington Center for the ACT/SAT exam prep positions since I am not a certified teacher (but do have a college degree). These comments have given me much to think about.

    And to those who seem to think teachers are well-paid: an oft-quoted statistic I hear is that most new teachers don't stay in the profession longer than 5 years.
    Beginning teachers in my state start at $23,500 for the year.

  226. What has happened to our society? When it comes to our children parents should take the first step in helping. Turn your televisions off spend a hour a day with your kids reading books playing games that increase math and critical thinking skills. The solution is not to throw $$$$$$ to have someone else do a parents job. Your kids need to come first and they need to have a Mom or Dad show the interest in their ecucation.

    If you feel you don't have the time, take some time off work or get a different job.

    Spending $5,000 on a non proven system with a (B.S.) money back guarantee is stupid. Most households don't even take home that kind of money a month.

    To all you that throw your money away. May your kids grow up to be as productive as the Hilton clan.

  227. I am so confused. I am considering sending my seventh grader to Sylvan for math. The reviews on this blog are so mixed. Can anyone out there please give me some insight on whether or not Sylvan is a scam or not?

  228. michelle said on February 19, 2008:

    I am so confused. I am considering sending my seventh grader to Sylvan for math. The reviews on this blog are so mixed. Can anyone out there please give me some insight on whether or not Sylvan is a scam or not?

    The purpose of this blog entry and the comments is not to "review" Sylvan. The original point I was making was simply this: Sylvan charges parents a helluva lot of money, yet doesn't pay their "teachers" very much of that money.

    Sylvan is a middle man, and one that preys on the fears of parents at that. I encourage parents to seek out actual teachers for tutoring their child. You can pay them half as much, they make twice as much, and your child gets individualized attention.

    Cut out the middle man and get better help for your child.

  229. I am an elementary school teacher. When I tutor students after school I'm paid about $26 an hour by the state of California. I have about 8 students that I work with. It is free for the students. I can't even imagine how Sylvan could figure out that a credential teacher is worth $10 an hour because they only have 3 students. My time is my time. My expertise is my expertise. I'd much rather go into someone's home and work with their child one-on-one and know that I was actually helping them and that they were getting exactly what they needed (not busy work and worksheets). If I'm working with a child who is enrolled in a school his or her teacher can tell me exactly what skill gaps they have. If not it is simply a matter of looking at his or her grades!

    My step-son has gone from a student who's highest grade was a C and was mostly getting D's & F's to all A's & B's. It isn't because he was enrolled in a program. It is because he has support at home and now lives with a teacher and a parent who can help him when he gets stuck! Unless your child has learning disabilities all they usually need is accountability and some support -- if you can't give it find a college student or teacher who can!

  230. Just a couple of quick responses to these comments..

    Shelagh said on February 14, 2008:

    My initial pay was $10 p/hr, but after two years of extra training, time on the job, and performance increases I was earning $13.75 p/hr.

    FWIW, last Xmas, there was a sign on the door going into the mall at Sears advertising *retail* jobs paying $15/hour. I pay my teenage babysitter $10/hr and give her a tip on top of that. For Sylvan to start professionals at that amount is ridiculous.

    Shelagh said on February 14, 2008:

    Our center was set up in the Sylvan standard of 3-1 desks, 10 minute transition times, and the Prescription Binders. Our center was set up to use the transition time to interact on a relaxed basis with the students or take care of personal needs.

    So what you're saying is that instead of students getting 20 minutes of the 60 minutes of instruction, it's more like 16 because they're relaxing the last 10 minutes? I'm not sure that's really a selling point for Sylvan...

    Shelagh said on February 14, 2008:

    For a parent to say they didn't know that their child was not going to get individualized tutoring is bunk. Before any child is admitted they and their parents are taken for a tour of the Sylvan Center. Since 99% of them are set up in the same style a parent would be oblivious to the 3-1 tables in front of them.

    Directors were told not to mention the 3-1 unless asked directly. Sylvan intends to mislead parents into thinking their child is getting 1-1. Parents shouldn't have to be finding that out by picking up clues from the environment. (And our parents typically didn't get the tour until after they had signed up.)

  231. I don't want to restate positions others have gone over and over (and over and over). As far as being up front about the 3:1 ratio, I will say that in my center I take all parents on a full tour before beginning the initial testing. I always mention the 3:1 ratio directly during the tour.

    In the last 10 years I have worked at 5 different Sylvan centers (starting as a teacher) and have had positive experiences for the most part. I love my current center and have a truly talented and dedicated teaching staff. When I was teaching for Sylvan I could not comprehend the overhead required to run a business such as ours. Now that I manage and operate a center I do. The pay is what it is.

  232. Sylvan Director of Education said on February 28, 2008:

    When I was teaching for Sylvan I could not comprehend the overhead required to run a business such as ours. Now that I manage and operate a center I do.

    Thank you - you've made my point for me.

    Why should parents contribute to the "overhead" when they can contribute less - and receive better help - by paying a tutor (whether that tutor is a college teaching student or a teacher from their school)?

  233. I have been considering taking my child to Sylvan as well. She is in the first grade and struggling with reading and spelling. I have had meetings with all of her teachers, including the teacher from her on-site reading program that occurs two days a week. While I agree that there are many tools out there to help a child, not all of them are available everywhere.

    I looked into private tutors. No luck. All the teachers I spoke with didn't do tutoring on the side, nor did they know of anyone who did for this level in elementary. I spent lots of money at the parent-teacher store. Some of it has helped and the spelling has improved, but not enough. When I received the notification she was at risk of retention, I decided that I would have the assessment done at Sylvan to see what they said. When I did the initial parent conference, I told them the basic issues at hand. I did not go into the specific areas of trouble because I wanted to see if their results matched what the school had mentioned. The results were very close to what we understood was going on, but also pinpointed more specifically the types of reading and word formation issues she was having. At this same time, I took it upon myself to have her vision and hearing checked (after all, I pay for my insurance, why not use it) and we discovered she needed glasses for nearsightedness and astigmatism. I have also learned my daughter's behaviors and know that when she acts up and becomes defiant, it's usually a defense mechanism of some sort because she's frustrat