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1 Chronic Absence in the Early Grades A Closer Look at New York City and Baltimore February 10, 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Chronic Absence in the Early Grades A Closer Look at New York City and Baltimore February 10, 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Chronic Absence in the Early Grades A Closer Look at New York City and Baltimore February 10, 2009

2 2 Webinar Agenda Welcome from the Coalition for Community Schools, Marty Blank, Director In depth look into Early Chronic Absence – –National Perspective –Local Perspectives New York, NY Baltimore, MD

3 3 What is Chronic Early Absence? Chronic early absence occurs when K-3 rd graders miss 10% or more days (nearly a month) during a school year including excused and unexcused absences. National research found this level of absenteeism was associated with lower academic performance.

4 4 Why Does It Matter? Consistent attendance starting in the early grades is critical to gaining the social and academic skills essential to school success. –Chronic absence in kindergarten predicts lower academic achievement in 1 st grade for all child and the lowest achievement 5 th graders living in poverty. –Chronic early absence can reach high levels locally – as high as 25% district wide or half of all the children in a particular elementary school. –If children miss extended periods of school in their first years, they are unlikely to learn to read so they can read to learn by 4 th grade.

5 5 Why Does It Matter (Cont.)? The experience of regularly attending children is adversely affected when teachers must divert their attention to meet the needs of chronically absent children when they return to school. Chronic early absence could be a critical tool for identifying troubled children, families or educational institutions early on before problems are more difficult to ameliorate.

6 6 Why is It Often Overlooked? Schools typically only track data on attendance and truancy (unexcused absence). It is easily hidden by typically high elementary school attendance rates. School data systems underestimate prevalence of chronic absence because they do not electronically track absences for individual children. Communities may be less concerned that young children will cause trouble if they miss school.

7 7 What Contributes to Chronic Early Absence? Factors vary and can be related to what is happening in: -Schools -Families -Communities

8 8 How Can Chronic Early Absence Be Addressed? Through family, school & community partnerships that: Address the factors contributing to chronic early absence in their community Maintain a sustained focus on attendance over time. Begin early when children are entering school or before. Take a comprehensive approach combining universal and targeted strategies. Offer positive supports before punitive responses.

9 9 Engage families of all backgrounds in their children’s education Offer incentives for attendance to all children Early outreach to families with poor attendance, and as appropriate, case management to address social, medical, economic and academic needs Coordinated public agency and, if needed, legal response for families in crisis Prepare children for school through quality early care and education experiences Offer a high quality education responsive to diverse learning needs Ensure access to preventative health care, especially as children enter school Educate parents about the importance of attendance Encourage families to help each other attend school

10 10 Instructive Example #1: New York City Presented by: Kim Nauer, Education Project Director of the Schools Watch Initiative at The Center for New York City Affairs

11 11 Chronic Absence in NYC: Dramatic Findings in 2008 Study The Center for New York City Affairs at The New School analyzed individual student attendance data citywide with a focus on elementary students. The prevalence of chronic absenteeism in grades K-5 shocked school officials and the broader public. o One of every five students in grades K-5 was chronically absent. And this number was as high as one in every three students in the poorest neighborhoods.

12 12 Citywide: Absenteeism Most Intense in Poor Neighborhoods

13 13 The Individual Student Analysis Revealed an “Invisible” Problem o New York City’s Department of Education (DOE) monitors school-wide attendance numbers. o Principals and officials also see attendance alerts when a student is missing for 10 consecutive days or 20 days over a 40 day period. o Both numbers mask the problem.

14 14 NYC PK-12 Trends Similar to Other Inner-City School Systems

15 15 Sporadic Absences Over the Year Add Up to Big Numbers o Individual absences were generally unremarkable to principals. They were shocked at how the days add up so quickly for students. o Corrosive effects in the classroom – and on achievement. o “A quiet problem that drives a lot of noisy problems.”

16 16 NYC: What’s Happening Today DOE alerting principals earlier with lists of kids who are building absences. DOE targeting 75 schools with highest chronic absence rates. DOE working closely with principals to identify issues driving absenteeism – these change from school to school.

17 17 Instructive Example #2: Baltimore, MD Presented by: Rachel E. Durham, Assistant Research Scientist at CSOS with the Baltimore Education Research Consortium (BERC) and Charmayne Little, Community Schools Coordinator, Baltimore Public Schools

18 18 How is ‘Chronic Absence’ Defined? We defined Chronic Absence at two levels:  ‘Chronically Absent’: attending school between 79% and 88% of the total days they were on the school’s rolls. (If there are 178 days in the school year, this is missing 20 days total.)  ‘Severely Chronically Absent’: attending school less than 79% of the total days on roll. (Or, that is missing 40 or more days of school per year.)

19 19 Who are the students we are examining? 1.All students in first grade in all schools in BCPSS in school year 1999-00. –This group originally included 9,176 students. 2. All student in sixth grade in all schools in BCPSS in school year 1999-00. –This group originally included 8,560 students. These students were followed from 1999-00 through 2005-06 to examine attendance and school outcomes over several years.

20 20 Examining Attendance Over Time and at the Individual Level Even when average daily attendance rates at a school are fairly high, some students may still be missing significant amounts of school.

21 21 *Grade level assumes on-time promotion. Not all were promoted each year. *1 st grade

22 22 About 51% of these students were chronically absent in only one year between 1999-00 and 2003-04. Almost 50% of these students were chronically absent in two or more years…. Of those who were chronically absent, how many years were they showing this kind of absenteeism?

23 23

24 24 Remedy the Absence Problem Early  Since some students are chronically absent year after year, identifying the obstacles to getting to school early in their school careers may prevent later frustrations with school and additional years of chronic absence.  The levels of chronic absence in the early years of school seem to predict later chronic absence in middle and high school.

25 25 *1 st gr3 rd gr4 th gr5 th gr6 th gr7 th gr8 th gr9 th gr10 th gr

26 26

27 27 Number of years Chronically Absent Average number of Days Absent from 1999-00 to 2003-04 176 2118 3164 4215 5281 Over a 5 year period, how many total days of school do these students who are chronically absent over the years actually miss during middle and high school? The bottom line: Missing so many days of school will undoubtedly affect academic progress, and a student’s chances of graduation.

28 28 Students starting sixth grade in 1999-00 would be on-time 12 th graders in 2005-06. Based on their rates of chronic absence in 2002-03 (on-time 9th grade), what were their final outcomes in 2005-06?

29 29 Baltimore’s Results Areas Baltimore’s Community Schools Initiative focuses on three result areas: –Parental Involvement and Community Engagement –School Climate and School Safety –Attendance

30 30 Traditional Community Schools Supports School improvement team –Attendance subcommittee Professional development –Knowing & understanding attendance procedures Student Support Team –Referrals for additional supports when necessary

31 31 Addressing Attendance in the Box Using data - average daily attendance Incentives - student based, perfect or good attendance awards, etc. Being reactive to absenteeism

32 32 Looking at Attendance Outside the Box Integration of the three results areas Using data to help drive strategies Creating a educational “campaign” around attendance and it’s importance Involving all stakeholders in the process

33 33 New Strategies Education – educating parents and students on the importance of attending school Creating school infrastructures – collaborating the all school staff to assure immediate interventions Data - providing strategies at each grade level using what the data tells us.

34 34 New Innovative Activities Getting kids excited about coming to school: –"adopt a kid" (advisory) –greet them as they come in & say goodbye when they leave –reward good behavior with surprise praise and "happy notes" –provide exciting inviting after school opportunities –providing incentives for parents

35 35 New Innovative Activities Engage and provide incentives for parents: –provide bags of groceries –create parent support groups –create contingency plans before absences get out of hand –work with parents to create safe passages to and from school –make sure parents are aware of the attendance policies

36 36 Additional Ideas Circulate a list of best practices from other schools/principals/CS sites Market support services to students and families available at school and in community Safe Passages working with the community Work closely with community police to bring truants and talk with them about the importance of coming to school Truancy Court

37 37 Baltimore’s Attendance Workgroup The attendance workgroup is a collaborative effort among City Schools, local and state government agencies, universities, foundations, community organizations, parents and students to understand and make recommendations around those obstacles that prevent students from attending school and to promote policies, practices and programs that support a culture of students attending school regularly.

38 38 Contact Information Hedy N. Chang, Co-Author, Present, Engaged & Accounted For, Kim Nauer, Center for New York City Affairs The New School, Rachel Durham, Baltimore Education Research Consortium, Charmayne Little, Baltimore Public Schools,

39 39 Additional Resources Chang & Romero, Present, Engaged & Accounted For: The Critical Importance of Addressing Chronic Absence in the Early Grades, National Center for Children in Poverty: September 2008 ( ) Nauer, White & Yerneni, Strengthening Schools by Strengthening Families: Community Strategies to Reverse Chronic Absenteeism in the Early Grades and Improve Supports for Children and Families, Center for New York City Affairs, The New School: October, 2008. Balfanz, Robert; Rachel E Durham; Stephen Plank. "Lost Days: Patterns and Levels of Chronic Absenteeism Among Baltimore City Public School Students 1999-00 to 2005-06." Johns Hopkins University, Center for Social Organization of Schools: June 2008. http://baltimore- Sundius, Jane and Molly Farneth. "Missing School: The Epidemic of School Absence." Open Society Institute-Baltimore: September 2008. y_20080317 y_20080317

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