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What High School Volunteers Can Do (Part 1)

Updated: Nov 21, 2021

Renowned education researcher and the Distinguished Professor of John Hopkins School of Education, Robert Slavin, was a big proponent of proven tutoring. He believed in an evidence-to-practice approach and advocated using effective tutoring programs to help America’s struggling students. In an open letter (Nov.2020) to then President-Elect Joe Biden (A Tutoring Marshall Plan To Heal Our Students), he urged the application of a structured tutoring program (one-to-one or one-to-small group), which he believed was the most effective way for students to quickly catch up with grade-level expectations.

The tutors, he proposed, “would be required to have a college degree, but not necessarily a teaching certificate.” Under his plan, from fall 2021 to spring 2022, 150,000 tutors can be hired to help 6 million students with funding from the federal government. This is a significant impact, however, still not sufficient in light of the massive numbers of students in need of help. In 2019, our country had roughly 56.6M students enrolled in primary/secondary schools. Based on the 2019 NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) assessment, 59% of 4th graders, 66% of 8th graders, and 76% of 12th graders performed below NAEP proficiency level fo math; for reading, the ratio was 65%, 66%, and 63% respectively. For a simple calculation and applying a 60% failure rate across the grades, my rough estimate shows that roughly 34 million students are in serious need of academic help either in math, reading, or both.

More help is needed, and this is where high school volunteers can step in.

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