New independent report finds Relay teachers boost student attendance

September 24, 2021
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Relay Graduate School of Education

There are some very simple truths when it comes to helping students achieve. Students who are in school learn more than those who miss class. Recognizing the importance of students attending school, we partnered with Education Analytics to explore two questions:

  • Do students learning from Relay-trained teachers have fewer absences?
  • Does the impact on absences change based on student characteristics?

The resulting independent report finds students of Relay teachers are more likely to attend class, which ultimately supports learning. Focusing on New York City schools and students from the 2014-15 through 2018-19 school years, we learned some interesting takeaways:

  • Relay teachers tend to teach more students who have a history of higher absence rates.
  • Relay teachers have a positive, statistically significant impact on students’ attendance.
  • Relay teachers have a greater impact on attendance for students from historically marginalized backgrounds.

Put another way, students who are typically more likely to be absent are less likely to miss school when working with a Relay teacher. The more exposure a student has to a Relay teacher, the greater the impact. How much impact does a Relay teacher have? Compared to their peers, students who took 100% of their courses with Relay teachers experienced:

  • An additional 1/5 of a day in class
  • An additional 4/5 day in class for students who are English Language Learners
  • An additional 3/5 of a day in class for students who had previously lower achievement in English

Relay teachers had a significant impact on attendance for students of color, especially Latinx students, and for male students who were in class for an additional 1/5 of a day and 1/3 of a day respectively.

While we cannot pinpoint an exact reason for this increased learning time for students, we have some thoughts on how our approach could be influencing these outcomes. First, our teachers are more diverse than the teachers leading students who were compared within this study. We believe in the power of qualified, diverse teachers especially since having diverse teachers has been shown to increase academic outcomes for students. Second, students are more likely to learn when they feel safe and have a sense of belonging. As such, all Relay teachers learn to build relationships with their students. It’s one of the first things aspiring teachers learn, giving our teachers ample time to practice before taking the helm of their own classroom.

This is just one way to explore how Relay teachers play a part in supporting students. Aside from attendance, there are many student outcomes that matter when measuring student success. We will continue to explore what else we can learn about the impact of our teachers -- because we know that teachers matter most when it comes to student outcomes.

Relay Graduate School of Education

Relay Graduate School of Education is an accredited not-for-profit institution of higher education serving thousands of teachers and education leaders across the country. Our mission is to ensure that all students are taught by excellent educators, to build a more just world where every student has a clear path to a fulfilling life.