COLUMBUS—State Senator Andrew Brenner (R-Delaware) today introduced legislation that would help students who were chronically absent over the last two years catch up academically with their peers.
Senate Bill 306 would require the Department of Higher Education to work with Education Service Centers, the Ohio Department of Education, and our schools to develop a training program that can be used by individuals who do not have a degree in education to tutor students. These include college students studying education, retired teachers and former substitute teachers, and individuals in the community who have the experience to tutor kids in subject matters but don’t have a degree in education.
"Over the last several years we have seen a dramatic spike in students who are chronically absent and the consequences it has for our students," said Brenner. "Without additional help and investment from the state, school districts, and communities, many of these students will continue to fall far behind their peers."
Chronic absenteeism saw a significant spike during the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly a quarter of Ohio students, 24%, being considered chronically absent from school during the 2020-21 school year. The chronic absenteeism rate was significantly higher in urban districts and areas that serve more economically disadvantaged students with an average rate of 38%.
Students who are chronically absent are more likely to perform worse academically, and are at a greater risk of dropping out. In the 2020-2021 school year, statewide proficiency rates for English dropped by 8% and dropped 15% in math.
"The concept of this bill is to get more individuals into our schools who can help provide tutoring and academic support to students who are suffering from learning loss," Brenner said.
Schools can use their funds to pay these participants. College students studying education can also receive credit toward their coursework for time spent tutoring, and could be eligible for student debt loan forgiveness or other options if they so choose instead of being paid.