Attendance Works News
April 27th, 2016
An analysis of absenteeism in Iowa of early-elementary students from the 2010-11 school year through third grade in 2013-14 shows that nearly 40 percent of elementary schools have rates of chronic absence among kindergartners in excess of 10 percent.
Using data on over 37,000 students, the Child Family Policy Center mapped the state’s early education attendance gaps in School Attendance Patterns in Iowa: Chronic Absence in the Early Grades. In the state, a student is considered chronically absent if he or she misses 10 percent or more of school days for any reason. In Iowa, that means 18 days or more in a 180-day school year, the equivalent of nearly a month of school.
With support from the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, CFPC analyzed the Iowa Department of Education’s longitudinal data system. The Iowa analysis shows:
- Chronic absenteeism starts early with 9 percent of the state’s kindergartners —over 3,500 children—missing too much school. The chronic absence rate then improved through third grade, when 4.5 percent of the same cohort, or nearly 1,500 children, missed 10 percent or more of the school days.
- Low-income students were three to four times more likely than their peers to be chronically absent across all four school years (2010-14). In kindergarten, 15.4 percent of chronically absent students were eligible for the free lunch program, compared to 4.7 percent of not eligible for the program.
- Children of color are more likely than peers to miss 10 percent or more of the school year. About 30 percent (29.4%) of Native American and (29.3%) Pacifica Islander students, 20 percent of black students, and 15.3 percent of Hispanic students were chronically absent, compared to 7.5 percent of their white counterparts. At the same time, white kids constituted the largest number of chronically absent students.
- Students receiving special education services were two to three times more likely to be chronically absent than their peers.
“Given the focus in our state on improving educational outcomes, and with new third grade retention requirements looming next year, this is an issue that merits focused attention,” said Anne Discher, a senior research associate with CFPC. “This report shows a small but significant group of early-elementary students in Iowa is missing substantial amounts of school. A kid who is not at school is a kid who is not learning.”
We’re excited by this report because it highlights the importance of being in school every day possible in the early grades, and the negative impact that too many absences can have on a student’s achievement.
The report states: “Students who have been chronically absent during any year of their early-elementary schooling are less likely than their peers who rarely miss school to be reading proficiently by the end of third grade, an important marker for future academic success. … Among students in this cohort who took the Iowa Assessments in third grade (2013-14 school year), those with regular attendance in each of the early-elementary years were nearly twice as likely to be proficient [in reading] as those who were chronically absent two or more years. They were half again as likely to be proficient as their peers who had been chronically absent one of the four years.”
We also appreciate the report’s spotlight on efforts of communities in the Grade Level Reading Campaign to improve school attendance in the early years in Iowa. “In Iowa, the Campaign is engaging communities across the state around strategies to assure every child is reading proficiently by third grade and specifically around strategies to reduce chronic absence,” the report notes. The communities working with GLR and its focus on attendance “have kick started interest in this issue in Iowa. This group of communities are establishing—and sharing with peers—a variety of exemplary practices.”
Already, 11 GLR Campaign communities in Iowa have begun focusing on attendance as a key strategy to help all students read by 3rd grade. Here’s an example from Council Bluffs:
In Council Bluffs Schools Superintendent Martha Bruckner set a goal for the district to increase the number of students who attend school 95 percent of the time. And she asked the entire community to help.
Within a year, Council Bluffs Community School District met its goal of having 80% of preschool children with less than 5% absenteeism rate, up from 76.5% in 2012-13. For kindergarten students, the percentage increased from 66.57% to 72.91%. Every elementary and middle school had an average daily attendance rate greater than 96 percent in 2013-14. Click here to read the full profile of Council Bluffs’ attendance activities.
April 26th, 2016
By Kristelle Jose, The Children’s Partnership
When students suffer from untreated health problems, they are more likely to perform poorly in class and often miss school altogether. Yet caring for a child’s ailments such as asthma, diabetes, poor vision and too many dental cavities is often nearly impossible without access to health insurance.
In May, California will begin to provide the full scope of medical benefits, including preventive care, to undocumented immigrant children younger than 19 in lower-income families under Medi-Cal, the state’s public insurance program. Beginning in the 2015–2016 school year, public schools are required to provide information to families about their health coverage opportunities and enrollment assistance at the beginning of the school year.
By collaborating with educators and the education community in California, the ALL IN For Health Campaign—a project of The Children’s Partnership—has reached out to families that meet the income limit and enrolled their children into the state’s Medi-Cal health coverage. With coverage, families and children can see a doctor, fill a prescription, and have the peace of mind that health insurance coverage often provides—but only if they understand what having an insurance card can mean for them.
Many people, particularly the newly insured, find health insurance confusing, frustrating, and often overwhelming. Children’s ability to get the care they need depends on their parents’ ability to understand and navigate the coverage system on their behalf. When at least 1 in 3 parents of young children have limited health literacy skills, we know a family’s understanding of health insurance and the health care system will impact a child’s ability to get the care they need. Part of this understanding is knowing the benefits that are available through health coverage.
A key benefit under Medi-Cal, for example, is access to preventive services, such as well-child visits, immunizations, and developmental screenings for children, with no additional out-of-pocket costs. Access to regular, preventive health care is a key element to helping all children and families become healthy and stay healthy. Preventive care is particularly critical to children’s development, helping them thrive, stay in school and grow up to become healthy adults.
Research makes it clear that treatable and manageable health problems are behind many excused absences from school. Asthma is a leading cause of school absenteeism, accounting for about 14 million absences each school year, or one- third of all days of missed instruction, research shows. Children between 5 and 17 years miss nearly 2 million school days each year nationwide due to dental health problems. And some children miss school simply because they don’t have the immunizations required for enrollment.
As Medi-Cal coverage becomes more widely available in California, an important step to ensuring kids are able to obtain the health care they need is helping families to better understand what the coverage benefits are and how to enroll. Beyond the basics of navigating an unfamiliar health care system, parents need the right information to understand how preventive care can keep their kids healthy and in school every day possible.
Educating families about how to use their insurance and the importance of preventive services is critical to the well being of children and their ability to be in school every day and achieve. We are excited to continue our work with the education community to better the health of California’s students and families.
To learn more about how to spread the word about regular health care visits for kids check out ALL IN For Health Campaign’s materials.
April 19th, 2016
The first Every Student, Every Day National Conference on chronic absenteeism will take place in Washington, D.C. this June. The two-day meeting is designed to support states, districts, schools, and communities in their work to develop effective chronic absenteeism policy and practice. The conference will also showcase a variety of approaches, with a particular focus on cross-sector efforts that address students and families’ education, health, housing, and justice-related needs.
The US Department of Education (ED) is hosting the conference in collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Justice. ED is reaching out to educators, community members and others interested in joining the effort to reduce chronic absenteeism to submit a proposal for a 75-minute workshop presented during the conference. ED has just extended the deadline for workshop proposals to Monday, April 25, 2016.
The workshop proposals should address one or more of the federal chronic absenteeism guidance action steps listed on the proposal invitation. Click here to find out more about the proposal criteria and the application process.
Attendance Works is a partner in the development of the national conference, and sees it as an important opportunity to share information and guidance that can help inform effective chronic absenteeism policy and practice. These steps, based on multi-tiered, cross-sector early warning and response systems, will help to address the challenges of daily attendance so that all students are able to attend school every day possible.
The conference is open only to those serving on the state teams, but there are ways that you can become involved. The Healthy Schools Campaign has described a number of opportunities to get involved and ensure your state is participating in the conference. Below are a few of HSC’s suggestions on how to support the conference.
- Contact your state officials to determine if they plan to send a cross-sector state team to the conference to represent your state.
- Submit a proposal to present at a conference workshop.
- Create or join a state team.
You can read HSC’s full blog here.
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