Learning Loss Win-Win: High-Impact Tutoring in DC Boosts Attendance, Study Finds

The 74

Students who missed at least 30% of school in the prior year improved their attendance by five days — a small, but promising finding, experts say.

High-quality tutoring programs not only get students up to speed in reading and math, they can also reduce absenteeism, a new study shows.

Focused on schools in Washington, D.C., the preliminary results show middle school students attended an additional three days and those in the elementary grades improved their attendance by two days when they received tutoring during regular school hours.  

But high-impact tutoring —defined as at least 90 minutes a week with the same tutor, spread over multiple sessions — had the greatest impact on students who missed 30% or more of the prior school year. Their attendance improved by at least five days, according to the study from the National Student Support Accelerator, a Stanford University-based center that conducts tutoring research. 

Susanna Loeb, who leads the center, called the data “the first evidence of a strong causal link between tutoring specifically and attendance.” 

Hedy Chang, executive director of the nonprofit Attendance Works, said it makes sense that students come to school more often when they’re keeping up in class and getting good grades. 

“Part of why kids don’t show up is because they don’t feel successful in school,” she said. Forming a connection with a tutor over several weeks or months can also make students more motivated to attend, she added. “I do think it’s an impact of high-dosage tutoring, not necessarily just tutoring.”


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