By Shreya Selvaraju, High School Junior • IDRA Newsletter • September 2022 •
A myriad of factors play into student success. Not all students have the same time, money and resources available to them. Infrastructure, such as study halls, peer tutoring groups, and teacher office hours, provide students with a level of support that gives a more equitable learning experience. This also gives students the opportunity to fare better in their courses.
These opportunities are integral to the growth of students, especially those in marginalized communities. Students who work two jobs to support their family may not have extra time to spend self-teaching and catching up after missing a class. Students without access to a car or reliable transportation may not be able to come to school early or leave late to take a test. The ability to receive help from a peer who has previously taken the class or to retake a test during school hours helps to mitigate the disadvantages these students face.
I personally have benefitted greatly from student support systems. My high school offers a system called Flextime, which is a dedicated 40 minutes of each school day during which students can “flex out” to a class of their choice to study, catch up or meet with an interest group. Flextime is built into the schedules of every student, so no student must make the decision between taking an additional course and missing out on Flextime.
Student engagement is critical to effective learning.
During my sophomore year, I missed four consecutive math classes due to a string of visits to the dentist. Precalculus was already a class I struggled with and missing these classes only pushed me farther behind. Thanks to Flex, I was able to ‘flex into’ my math class every day for a week, allowing me to catch up without falling farther behind.
When forming these resources and making them available to students, it is imperative that they be accessible to all students. When such resources are not easily accessible, they only further disparities between students. By providing all students with access to materials that can help them succeed in class, all students are able to excel.
When students progress in a class, it gives them a sense of accomplishment that lets them feel more invested in their education. These students are likely to work harder in their classes and are more engaged in learning. Student engagement is critical to effective learning, and as students budget their time between school, extracurriculars and their personal lives, support systems are integral to success.
A high school junior, Shreya Selvaraju is a member of IDRA’s 2022 Youth Advisory Board from Austin.
[©2022, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the September 2022 issue of the IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]