Tutors

About 15 percent of U.S. students were chronically absent before the pandemic. Last school year it was at 26%.

Chronic absenteeism has grown the most in the poorest school districts and those that relied on remote learning for the longest periods of time.

Recent studies find that students were less likely to be absent on days when they had a scheduled tutoring session.

More than 200 volunteer tutors help Brightlane staff provide focused 1:1 and small group support to 750+ students annually.

Since the pandemic, chronic absenteeism has exploded. A March 29 New York Times article, A Crisis of School Absences, by Sarah Mervosh explores this phenomenon. She writes, “Before the pandemic, about 15 percent of U.S. students were chronically absent, which typically means missing 18 days of the school year, for any reason. By the 2021-22 school year, that number had skyrocketed to 28 percent of students. Last school year, the most recent for which national estimates are available, it held stubbornly at 26 percent.”

While no demographic is immune to increased absences, chronic absenteeism has grown the most in the poorest school districts and those that relied on remote learning for the longest periods of time, which is the case for many students who are experiencing homelessness or housing instability.

At the same time educators are grappling with increased absences, tutoring has been shown to effectively combat chronic absenteeism.

The National Student Support Accelerator recently released early findings demonstrating that high-impact tutoring increases student attendance in DC schools. One of the key preliminary findings shared was, “Students were less likely to be absent on days when they had a scheduled tutoring session, with a reduction in the probability of absence by 6.9 percent. If tutoring were scheduled as part of the regular school day, this would translate into students attending 2.3 more days of school over the course of the school year.”

According the Duke’s Social Science Research Institute, High Impact tutoring is generally defined as sharing the following characteristics:

  • at least three interactions per week with the student,
  • lasting at least 30 minutes,
  • with a maximum student to tutor ratio of 3:1,
  • where the relationship with the tutor is “sustained and strong,”
  • there is monitoring of the student’s “knowledge and skills,” and
  • there is coaching or oversight of tutors to ensure high-quality interactions.

Our program shares many characteristics of high-impact tutoring, like ongoing relationships, evaluating student skills and progress, appropriate training and oversight that leads to quality interactions, and small group or 1:1 focus. However, we do not have at least three sessions of 30 minutes with every student. While we do not provide high-impact tutoring at every partner site due to days of week we are there, we have learned that our students are more likely to show up on days that they have Brightlane tutoring.

More than 200 trained volunteer tutors dedicate an hour a week to tutoring and act as a consistent and stable presence in the lives of Brightlane Students. By having our staff members and supportive volunteer tutors present at the schools with which we partner, we are encouraging stronger attendance for many of our students.

Whether volunteers support our programs in schools or shelters, they are helping provide high quality, focused tutoring and supportive relationships that help put more students impacted by homelessness and housing instability on the paths to a brighter future.