Area legislators: High schoolers can tutor younger students, earn credit

Lawmakers say new option could help fill in gaps created by e-learning

Posted by: Allison Vanatsky and Jake Thompson  | Thursday, July 30, 2020

STATEHOUSE (July 30, 2020) – When students begin school in the coming weeks, a new opportunity to fulfill graduation requirements will be available to high school juniors and seniors to tutor younger students, according to State Reps. Ben Smaltz (R-Auburn) and Denny Zent (R-Angola).

Smaltz said students can experience some form of learning loss over summer break, meaning they do not retain some of the lessons they learned the previous school year, but most are typically able to relearn these lessons quickly. However, because students participated in remote- or e-learning due to COVID-19, a recent NWEA report estimates some children could begin the 2020-2021 school year up to nearly a full grade level behind their peers in some subject areas. To help bridge this gap, Smaltz said schools can implement the Indiana Department of Education's newly developed Indiana Tutoring Fellowship, which will fulfill the Service-Based Learning Experience under Graduation Pathway Requirement #2.

"This is a creative option for parents to help their children who may be experiencing the very real effects of learning loss," Smaltz said. "Tutoring can help alleviate some of that burden, keep kids on track this year and provide opportunities for older students to get involved."

To be eligible to participate in this program, Zent said students must be a high school junior or senior, maintain at least a 3.0 GPA and be in good behavioral standing. The IDOE recommends tutoring sessions take place virtually, but if students are permitted to meet face-to-face, social distancing must be followed. Tutors will work with students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

"Tutoring younger students is an excellent option for high schoolers looking for alternative ways to earn credit for graduation," Zent said. "This could also be a valuable opportunity for those pursuing a career in education to gain experience teaching and begin developing the skills needed to do it effectively before they begin college."

Smaltz and Zent supported the 2017 law creating Indiana's graduation pathways, which allows students to pursue opportunities that best meet their education and career goals. 

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State Rep. Ben Smaltz (R-Auburn) represents House District 52, which includes all of DeKalb County, and portions of Steuben and Allen counties.

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State Rep. Denny Zent (R-Angola) represents House District 51, which includes most of LaGrange and Steuben counties.

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