Integrity in tutoring is a concept that is assumed and memorialized in writing in part through the National Education Association’s Code of Ethics. However, the practical application, particularly in those situations that require a company follow the various mandates of government agencies, is at times challenging. Maintaining Integrity in your organization, as it relates to employees, requires a proactive approach – I recommend the following three step process:
1. Assume all your employees will be unethical.
2. Identify all the possible ways they can be unethical.
3. Create processes in your organization to combat unethical practices.
Unethical practices cost you money because all violations must either be fixed, or if discovered, may result in the loss of a contract with a parent, organization, school, district and/or other government entity.
One example of an unethical practice within the confines of Supplemental Education Services provided to school districts, involves student attendance sheets. The rules regarding verifying student attendance vary greatly from school to school, district to district. While tutoring companies will at times find these rules to be onerous, violating these rules violates the integrity of your organization.
If a district requests that parents sign students out daily, parents must sign students out daily. In most cases, it is a violation of your contract to request a parent fill out a sheet at the end of the month for student attendance for the entire month.
Tutoring companies are not typically at fault in this matter, tutors often do not understand how important the tasks they perform for your company are. Even when tutors are advised, they do not fully appreciate that you would be in violation of your contract if you were to allow a widespread practice of either recreating or doctoring attendance sheets.
How do you combat this?
1. Assume your tutors will forget or not make it a priority to get signatures daily.
2. Require them to scan/fax student attendance sheets to you daily, if they do not have access to a scanner or printer, ask them to take a picture of the signed attendance sheets and txt or e-mail you the picture.
You should then reward the positive behavior through a point system, just like you have with the students – 5 points equals a $25 bonus.
It is your job, as a tutoring company, to send a clear message to your employees about what is necessary to maintain the integrity of your organization. Seasoned tutoring companies know that the training, tutor manual, and/or sheet tutors sign agreeing to follow all the rules, do not prevent some individuals from compromising your organization, and even options above may not eradicate the process. However, individuals who know they are not organized enough to keep track of the rules will balk at the idea of verifying their work and will choose not to work for you – good news for you, as we mentioned in, “SES Finally Made Easy,” your goal is always to hire right and fire fast. Others will comply because they are now being monitored and for the few that you are either unable to reward or punish, you will identify them very quickly and you should let them go just as quickly so they do not become a bigger cancer in your organization.
Within the fast changing Supplemental Education Services landscape as it applies to providing tutoring for schools and school districts, integrity is going to be one of the primary determinants of whether these services will continue to be an option for parents going forward. Only through identifying gaps in your plan to achieve 100% integrity throughout your entire organization and filling in those gaps, will you ensure your ability to continue providing quality Supplemental Education Services to your clients for years to come.
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