Attendance Works News

April 28th, 2015

Chronic Absence is a Metric in Proposed ESEA

The Healthy Schools Campaign posted a blog item earlier this month, noting that chronic absence is used as a metric in the latest proposal for revising the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act. We’re reposting with their permission and tweaking a few time elements.

This month, Senate Education Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) released a bipartisan draft of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). In its current state, the proposed bill includes a number of wins for student health.

We spent a few days going through the more than 600-page draft and have identified language in several sections that is supportive of student health and wellness. This language, which is not included in the current version of ESEA (known as No Child Left Behind), aligns with a number of the key school health priorities that we — along with many of our partners and allies — have been advocating for.

The Alexander/Murray draft bill would help advance student health by:

  • Adding chronic absenteeism as a required indicator to school report cards for Title 1 schools (schools with high numbers or high percentages of low-income students). Chronic absenteeism can serve as a powerful measure for students who are academically at risk. In addition, student health issues are a leading cause of chronic absenteeism. We are advocating for the use of chronic absenteeism as a driver of early intervention for at risk students, and inclusion of chronic absenteeism on school report cards would be a key step toward accomplishing this.
  • Clarifying that Title 1 funds (the federal program that provides school funding to support the academic achievement of low income students) can be used to address the physical, mental and emotional well-being of children. Given the significant health disparities that exist in our country and their connection to the academic achievement gap, allowing the use of Title 1 funds to support student health is a key strategy for supporting student achievement.
  • Restructuring Title IV, Safe and Healthy Students, to require that eligible school districts conduct a comprehensive needs assessment to identify the health and safety needs of their students. In addition, the draft bill allows states to use Title IV funds to build the capacity of school districts and schools to address student health and wellness needs.
  • Recognizing physical education as a core subject, which would elevate the importance of PE and encourage schools to recognize PE as an important part of a well-rounded education.

Education advocates are seeing this as a real, bipartisan effort to update what most consider to be a highly problematic education law. We see this effort as an important opportunity to support the connection between health and learning and are encouraged by the inclusion of a number of important health provisions. For people who care about student health, this is the most significant opportunity we have seen within education reform for creating the conditions of health in schools.

 

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April 24th, 2015

California Data Tools Now Available

Attendance Works is now offering free data tools designed specifically for California schools and school districts to track chronic absence. The tools, self-calculating Excel spreadsheets, include California’s unique transitional kindergarten (TK) as a grade in school and reflect the state’s definition of truancy.

Under California’s Local Control Funding Formula, school districts must now calculate chronic absence data, one of the measures of Student Engagement in the Local Control Accountability Plan. Monitoring the data gives school districts and communities a chance to see the impact of their strategies and investments over time.

Used in combination or as separate modules, the California versions of the district and school absence tracking tools (CalDATT and CalSATT) make tracking chronic absence a snap. In addition, the new California Truancy Supplement offers insights into the relationship between chronic absence, suspension and truancy as defined by California law.

The tools include modules for assessing chronic absence in elementary, middle and high school grades, as well a tool for combining chronic absence reports for all grade levels. Each module can accommodate about 65,000 students.

While the CalDATT and CalSATT are compatible with any Student Information System, Aeries has specifically modified its system to make calculating chronic absence even easier, thanks to the cooperation of the California Attorney General’s Office and Eagle Software, the creator of Aeries.

Attendance Works hopes that this will be the first of many such arrangements with SIS providers. If you are interested connecting Attendance Works with your SIS provider, please contact help@attendanceworks.org

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April 22nd, 2015

Start Strong: 5/13 Webinar on Attendance in the Early Years

Did you know that chronic absence affects one in 10 children in kindergarten and first grade nationwide? And that early childhood education can lay a foundation for better attendance in the years ahead?

Start Strong, a free webinar from the Attendance Awareness Campaign at 2 p.m. ET on May 13, will explore early absenteeism and offer strategies for helping our youngest learners build the essential skill of showing up on time every day.

We know that children who are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are much less likely to read proficiently by the end of third grade and are more likely to have poor attendance in later grades.

Early childhood programs, schools and community partners can give young children a strong start. Speakers from Attendance Works and local communities will tell how they are using data, reaching out to families to offer support in overcoming common health challenges and developmental delays, and educating parents about the benefits of engaging programs and instruction in the early grades.

This September, as we celebrate Attendance Awareness Month, we have the opportunity help our youngest learners build the essential skill of showing up on time every day.

Don’t miss out! Register now!

If you missed our Ready, Set, Go webinar on April 15, you can view the recording here.

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