Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

January 31st, 2014

2/6 Webinar: Leveraging Attendance for Equitable Outcomes

We know that chronic absence at any age is one of the best early warning indicators that a student is at risk academically. In California, the Local Control Funding Formula will for the first time require every district to establish annual goals and specific actions to reduce chronic absence as part of the development of local plans. This process offers lessons that can apply to any school or district in the nation seeking to use improved attendance as a lever to achieve more equitable outcomes.

On Thursday, February 6, we’re co-sponsoring a webinar with he Region IX Equity Assistance Center at WestEd: Leveraging Attendance for Equitable Outcomes: Tools for the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) in California. The webinar is from 10-11:15 Pacific time, or 1-2:15 Eastern.

This webinar will help you: 1) determine whether chronic absence is a hidden problem in your school or district, 2) identify which schools and sub-groups of students require interventions to improve attendance, 3) provide guidance on what you can do to improve attendance, and 4) help you develop goals and activities to meet the requirements of the LCAP.

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December 12th, 2013

In Baltimore, students in OST programs show improved school attendance

Children who participated regularly in out-of-school-time (OST) programs were “significantly less likely to be chronically absent … than comparable peers,” and among those who were chronically absent before starting to regularly attend an OST program, more than two-thirds improved their attendance rates, according to a recently released report by the Baltimore Education Research Consortium (BERC).

The report, “Family League 2011-12 Out of School Time Programs in Baltimore City,” also found that sixth- and ninth-graders who regularly attended an OST program during the 2011-12 school year had higher attendance rate through the first three quarters of the 2012-13 school year – a key finding as these students transitioned into the middle grades and high school.

And most the Baltimore students who became “regular attenders” of OST programs were those in greatest need of additional resources – nearly 93 percent of them qualified for Free and Reduced-Priced Meals.

BERC’s report was the result of its analysis of the Family League of Baltimore’s education initiative, which involves 3,523 students at 48 city schools and is aimed at providing children with quality after-school and summer learning experience in kindergarten through 12th grade. The Family League, which administers the city’s investment in after-school programs, funds OST initiatives with support from the city, the state, local foundations and community partners. Reducing chronic absence is an explicit goal and metric for the programs.

As one of the first cities in the nation to begin focusing on chronic absence as a way to improve graduation rates, Baltimore has made significant strides in identifying barriers to regular school attendance and developing solutions. See our What Works section for more detail.

The city’s experience underscores what research and field experience has consistently demonstrated in schools and communities around the country: Children who participate in quality OST programs are more likely to attend school more regularly.  New research from New York City  reveals that students who attend school regularly tend to get better grades and are more likely to stay on track to graduate than students who are chronically absent.

While Baltimore continues to grapple with the issue of chronic absenteeism (especially at the high school level, where about 41 percent of students were chronically absent during the 2011-12 school year), its commitment to giving more children access to high-quality OST programming is already reaping great rewards for thousands of students across the city.

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November 20th, 2013

New York Study Shows Students Can Rebound from Chronic Absence

Every study we’ve ever seen on chronic absence shows that students who miss too much school are less likely to succeed academically and more likely to drop out of high school. But the question lingers: Did the missed days cause the academic trouble, or do struggling students simply miss school more often? The logical follow up question is: Does improving a student’s attendance lead to academic gains and a better chance of graduating?

Now, a three-year study of students in New York City shows that when student improved their attendance, their outcomes are better! They are more likely to stay in school and show slight but significant gains in grade point averages.

Meeting the Challenge of Combating Chronic Absence,” produced by Johns Hopkins University researchers Robert Balfanz and Vaughan Byrnes, explores a rich vein of data generated from a three-year pilot program conducted by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s task force on truancy, chronic absence and school engagement. The pilot began in 2010 with 25 schools and expanded to 100 in the 2012-13 school year, eventually reaching 80,000 students. The pilot included elementary, middle and high schools and helped reduce chronic absence on campuses across the city.

Students from low-income families and those living in homeless shelters were among those who saw the biggest gains, the study showed. It also revealed that New York City’s “Success Mentors” program, in which chronically absent students are paired with mentors, was a particularly effective intervention.

For this research, Balfanz and Vaughan compared to the task force’s pilot schools with schools that had similar student populations. Among the findings:

  • Students who came out of chronic absenteeism in 2009-2010 were 20% more likely to remain in school three years later (90%) than students who became chronically absent that year (75%)
  • Previously chronically absent high school students with Success Mentors were 52% more likely to remain in school the following year than equivalent comparison students who did not receive mentors.
  • Students who become chronically absent see declines in average GPA (from 72% to 67%, dropping from a C to a D) while those who exit chronic absenteeism see improvement (from 72% to 73%), a statistically significant difference given that these are cumulative GPAs which are harder to move. GPAs of students who continue to not be chronically absent continue to improve in the second year after exiting chronic absenteeism.
  •  Chronic absenteeism is typically the first off-track indicator to develop, before students exhibit disciplinary issues. For 86% of students suspended in sample schools in 2012-13, attendance issues were the first warning sign to develop.

“The New York City data indicate that helping students exit chronic absenteeism is one of the strongest dropout prevention strategies available, and suggest that chronic absenteeism is not only a good predictor of dropping out, but also a leading cause,” Balfanz and Byrnes wrote.

Other findings include:

  • Task force schools significantly and consistently outperformed comparison schools in reducing chronic absenteeism.
  • In statistically significant ways, students in the task force schools were less likely to be chronically absent and more likely to be solid attenders than students in comparison schools.
  • Students in poverty at task force schools were 15% less likely to be chronically absent than similar students at comparison schools.
  • Students in temporary shelters who were in task force schools—a major focus of the task force efforts—were 31% less likely to be chronically absent than similar students at comparison schools.
  • Success Mentors, and their supporting infrastructure, were the most effective component of the task force’s effort across all school types. Previously chronically absent students who had mentors gained almost two additional weeks (9 days) of school per student, per year.
  • In the 25% of schools with the greatest impacts, chronically absent students supported by Success Mentors gained, on average, more than a month of school
  • Previously chronically absent students in 2012-13 with Success Mentors gained 51,562 additional days of school compared to previously chronically absent students without mentors at comparison schools; and 92,277 additional days compared to comparison school students without mentors during the three-year initiative.

“The NYC mayor’s task force to combat chronic absenteeism, along with emerging efforts in a few other sites (such as Baltimore and Oakland), demonstrate that we have a powerful untapped tool at our disposal to close achievement gaps, increase graduation rates, improve college and career readiness, and decrease crime and social welfare costs—that is, organizing and applying ourselves to get our students to school every day without fail,” Balfanz and Byrnes wrote.

To download the full report, click here.

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