Archive for the ‘State News’ Category

October 28th, 2016

CA’s AG Finds 7.3% of Elementary Students Chronically Absence

California Attorney General Kamala Harris has released a new report showing that 7.3 percent of elementary students in California missed 10 percent of the school year in 2015-16. The report —which draws from a sample of almost 500,000 students from nearly 200 districts—also describes significant progress being made as districts take action to improve attendance. screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-12-06-12-pm

In School + On Track 2016 is California’s fourth annual report on chronic absence, and pulls from data over the past four years beginning with the 2012-13 school year. The numbers paint a portrait of a state that still faces an attendance crisis, with an estimated 210,000 students in kindergarten though 5th grade missing almost one full month of school. Chronic absenteeism is most prevalent among African American, low-income, special education and highly mobile students such as homeless and foster youth.

The data also illustrate that early attendance patterns can affect a child’s academic achievement. For example, 75 percent of students who were chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade failed to meet California’s state standards in math and English language arts in the 3rd grade.

“Chronically absent children are far more likely to drop out of high school and enter the criminal justice system,” Harris said. “This is a solvable problem: with better data, monitoring, and communication with parents, we can continue to make significant strides towards ensuring students are in school and on track to meet their full potential.”

In School + on Track cites a number of steps taken in Calfornia to improve chronic absenteeism, such as:

  • Ninety-nine percent of districts surveyed have, or plan to, put in place policies and programs designed to improve attendance this year.
  • Forty-seven percent of districts (up from 18 percent in 2014) included chronic absence data in their Local Control Accountability Plans, which outline how districts will improve student outcomes.
  • Eighty-five percent (up from 12 percent in the 2013) of districts reported that they track attendance over time. This step allows teachers and administrators to find the students who are missing too many days, and to craft interventions to help overcome barriers to being in school every day.
  • Discipline policies are changing: 34 percent of districts surveyed said they have changed their attendance policies to reduce suspensions.

School suspensions also increased the state’s attendance crisis, the report notes. Suspensions have an oversized impact on boys, low-income students and children with special needs. The report also finds that while African America students make up just 5 percent of the elementary school population, they represent 22 percent of all suspensions.

The report includes a description of recent changes in collecting and tracking student attendance in California policy as well as new chronic absence reporting requirements in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

New Policy Brief for California

Attendance Works has developed a policy brief to help district decision-makers in California think about how they might collect and use chronic absence data. The brief describes how districts can use their Student Information Systems (SIS) to support this work. It lays out steps districts can take to maximize the opportunities provided by the CALPADS new attendance data collection for 2016-17 school year, and the new reporting requirements in the ESSA.

Download the full Brief: Making Data Work in California: Leveraging Your District’s Data and Student Information System (SIS) to Monitor and Address Chronic Absence

Data on missed days and information on how to help families interpret the data can be included on student report cards. Click here to find sample report cards with chronic absence data.

Click here to find In School + on Track 2016, and the reports from 2015, 2014 and 2013.

Posted in Elementary, State News | Comments Off on CA’s AG Finds 7.3% of Elementary Students Chronically Absence

June 29th, 2016

Data Tools to Drive Action

Too often, parents, students and sometimes teachers don’t realize how quickly absences, excused as well as unexcused, can add up to academic trouble. At the same time principals, district leaders and community members often don’t know if chronic absence is a significant problem in local schools.

Research shows that missing as little as 2-3 days every month is considered chronic absence, and can translate into third graders unable to master reading, sixth graders failing courses and ultimately, teens dropping out of high school. Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 10.18.04 PM

We’ve found that the best way to identify students with poor attendance is to calculate the data that schools are already collecting. Analyzing local attendance data can help determine chronic absence levels, and show patterns across students and schools. This is a good first step towards designing strategies to help students get to class every day possible.

Analyzing district-level data also can highlight schools that are making good progress. What’s happening in these schools that serve similar populations of students, but are achieving better-than-average results? By looking into what works in these schools, you can identify effective practices that others could replicate.

We’ve partnered with Applied Survey Research and developed some tools to simplify the process. Please share with your districts, schools and communities. The self-calculating spreadsheets for school districts are called the District Attendance Tracking Tools (DATTs). These free tools are especially effective for smaller districts with more limited data capacity.

The companion tools are the School Attendance Tracking Tools (SATTs), which provide school-level analysis down to the individual student level.

The release of national chronic absence data from the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) shows chronic absence data for most schools in every district in the country. The heat map (also on this page) developed by ED for its web based data story provides a quick view of the issue in each district.  The DATTs and SATTs can facilitate a deeper analysis of ED’s Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) for your district or school.

  • Click here to find our more about OCR’s national chronic absence data, including a link to Attendance Works’ guide to help filter the CRDC data for your state.
  • We looked at how state and local innovators are already using chronic absence analyses to galvanize action in our May 17, 2016 webinar. If you missed Using Data to Drive Action: Portraits of Chronic Absence, you can find the webinar recording and presentation slides here.

Posted in Featured Article, State News | Comments Off on Data Tools to Drive Action

May 20th, 2016

VA’s Online Training Series: Leveraging the Power of Technology

Virginia’s Department of Education has created an online training series to address and eliminate chronic absenteeism in schools across the state.

“This training will assist schools and districts in looking at current practice and in looking at ways to improve future practice with the goal of addressing and eliminating chronic absenteeism,” said Jo Ann Burkholder, Director, Office of Student Services, VDOE. “Creating a culture of good attendance will help Virginia reach its ultimate goal – to boost each student’s achievement and success later in life.”

Each of the 12 modules includes a video and power point slides that provide, in a step-by-step progression, information to understand the importance of addressing chronic absenteeism and how a school or district can create a culture of good attendance and strategies to turn-around a chronic absence problem. The training, dubbed Attendance and Truancy Among Virginia Students, can be viewed individually or in a group, and each lesson includes a facilitator and participant guide for reflection on each session that can create a working document to address chronic absenteeism.

Attendance Works is proud to partner with VDOE on this training. Through its leadership on the critically important issue of reducing chronic absenteeism, VDOE has developed an innovative approach to help districts and schools build programs to address chronic absenteeism. It serves as an excellent example of how today’s technology can be used to build capacity around addressing chronic absenteeism. VDOE’s modules also can inform how states across the country approach providing much needed technical assistance on implementing strategies that address chronic absenteeism.

VDOE announced the training series in April at its two-day spring institute: Every Student, Every Day: Strategies to Address Attendance and Truancy. Including chronic absenteeism in the state’s accountability system is key to making sure schools meet the needs of families today, said Steven Staples, Virginia’s Superintendent of Public Instruction. “When I look at families today I see only about 4% that meet that ideal created by [the 1950s-60s television show] Leave It to Beaver,” Staples said during the spring institute. Schools have to change how they operate to support students and families in today’s reality, he added.

The modules start with an introduction by Joseph Wharff, School Counseling Specialist with VDOE. The topics in the modules are:

  • Module 1: Understanding Chronic Absenteeism
  • Module 2: Frameworks for Reducing Chronic Absence
  • Module 3: Establishing School Attendance Teams
  • Module 4: Using Data to Drive Action
  • Module 5: Messaging Attendance
  • Module 6: Integrating Attendance In Parent Engagement
  • Module 7: Leveraging Parent-Teacher Conferences
  • Module 8: Recognizing Good and Improved Attendance
  • Module 9: Providing Personalized Early Outreach
  • Module 10: Identifying Barriers
  • Module 11: Engaging Community Partners
  • Module 12: Creating Opportunities for Peer Learning

Click here to find the 12 part Module: Attendance & Truancy Among Virginia Students.

Posted in Announcements, Featured Article, State News | Comments Off on VA’s Online Training Series: Leveraging the Power of Technology

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