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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: attendance

You are viewing the most recent posts on this topic.

August 12, 2014 at 5:00 AM

What’s a few days missed? Autumn absences often snowball

Students who frequently miss class do much worse than their peers academically. No surprise there. What’s astonishing is how early in the school year those patterns show up and, by extension, how quickly they could be addressed.

New research from Baltimore — ground zero for documenting the link between spotty attendance and future dropout rates — shows that, on average, kids who miss just two days of school in September go on to miss at least a full month each year, with predictably dismal outcomes: Studies show that six graders who miss 20 days of class have only a 20 percent chance of graduating high school on time.

Chronic Absenteeism by September Absence Rates

Chronic Absenteeism by September Absence Rates. Screen shot from the Baltimore Education Research Consortium.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: absenteeism, attendance, Diplomas Now

March 4, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Want better students? Get real about life outside the classroom

Young adults affiliated with Diplomas Now work in designated middle schools to encourage better attendance and tutor students. At Aki Kurose Middle School in South Seattle, City Year staffers Margo Kelly, left, Anna Witte and Ti'esh Harper talk with seventh-grader Jade Bland at the attendance window. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times 2013.

Young adults affiliated with Diplomas Now work in designated middle schools to encourage better attendance and tutor students. At Aki Kurose Middle School in South Seattle, City Year staffers Margo Kelly, left, Anna Witte and Ti’esh Harper talk with seventh-grader Jade Bland at the attendance window. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times 2013.

The din surrounding education reform often fails to recognize forces that significantly affect student achievement, but happen outside the classroom. You can strengthen teacher quality, overhaul curricula or throw open the doors to school choice, yet research shows that if kids are frightened, hungry or depressed, they cannot learn as well.

These are austere times, so understanding that common-sense reality is not enough. Legislators want data to justify any funding decision. Into the breach wades Child Trends, a non-partisan nonprofit that for 30 years has been evaluating research on what works for kids.

Last week, the Bethesda, Md., -based think tank released a report measuring the effects of so-called “integrated student supports” — the services that link students to mental health counseling, tutoring, food banks and the like. Such programs are widespread, serving more than 1.5 million young people in nearly 3,000 schools across the country.

The largest, Communities in Schools, operates in more than 2,000 buildings, including Seattle’s.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: attendance, Child Trends, Diplomas Now

November 24, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Your voices: Readers weigh pros and cons of letting kids skip school

We received many thoughtful responses to our Question of the Week regarding attendance and whether it’s OK for kids to occasionally miss school, even if they’re not ill. The question was tied to Thursday’s story about how two Seattle middle schools are emphasizing attendance in an effort to improve student performance.

Many respondents were quick to point out that some absences could be just as enriching as spending the day in school. Richard Stowell of Kenmore writes:

A good student should be allowed to take a break from school if he/she makes up classwork ahead and has school permission. Oftentimes students can learn valuable lessons from travel or other such activities.

Here is a selection of other responses. Some have been edited for length.

I allow my daughter, who is in ninth grade, to have one day per quarter to use at her discretion. It is her mental health day. With the amount of responsibilities she has in school and in out-of-school activities, I want to instill in her the value of taking care of herself and knowing that sometimes you just need a break. She is learning to identify for herself how to balance commitment and recognize her capacity.

—Petaki Cobell, Seattle

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Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: attendance, question of the week, your voices

November 21, 2013 at 9:41 AM

Today’s feature: Attendance counts

At Aki Kurose Middle School in South Seattle, City Year staffers Margo Kelly, left, Anna Witte and Ti'esh Harper talk with seventh-grader Jade Bland at the attendance window one recent morning. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times.

At Aki Kurose Middle School in Seattle, City Year staffers Margo Kelly, left, Anna Witte and Ti’esh Harper talk with seventh-grader Jade Bland at the attendance window one recent morning. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times.

From today’s front-page story by Claudia Rowe:

The finding was hard to believe, but year after year and in state after state, the numbers kept bearing it out: Sixth-graders who missed 20 days of class had, at best, a 20 percent chance of graduating from high school on time.

This was a bombshell for researcher Bob Balfanz, who’d spent most of his career trying to understand the factors driving 1 million American students to drop out each year. He’d paced school hallways and sat through hundreds of hours of classroom instruction.

But in 2007, after tracking 13,000 middle-schoolers for eight years in Philadelphia, Balfanz finally isolated a red flag common to all who, years later, failed to graduate on time: A history of poor attendance.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Aki Kurose Middle School, attendance, City Year

November 20, 2013 at 5:30 PM

Video: “Near peers” drum up enthusiasm at Denny Middle School

If you’re a student at Denny International Middle School in West Seattle, a lively scene of chanting and singing welcomes you as you arrive for class each morning. The routine is just the beginning of the many duties that the school’s City Year corps members perform during the day. Denny is one of two schools…

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Comments | More in Video | Topics: attendance, City Year, Denny International Middle School

November 20, 2013 at 5:25 PM

Guest: Communities should work together to keep kids in class

Robert Balfanz

Robert Balfanz

Nationwide, 5 million to 7.5 million students are chronically absent each year. In Seattle, this amounts to missing at least 18 days — or about a month’s worth of school.

All too often, no one notices or even cares if these kids don’t show up.

Our research at Johns Hopkins University shows that chronic absence is a strong predictor of who will eventually drop out of school. And the problem starts early. One study estimated that one in 10 of the nation’s kindergarten and first-grade students were chronically absent.

These early absences can leave children lagging in basic reading and math skills and can establish an entrenched pattern of chronic absenteeism as students move into middle and high school. Chronically absent students also are more likely to wind up in the juvenile justice system.

The good news is that mayors, school districts and communities have a relatively low-cost way to raise academic achievement, increase graduation rates, reduce juvenile justice costs and build better pathways out of poverty: that is, to work together to get their students to attend school every day.

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Comments | More in Guest opinion | Topics: absenteeism, attendance, Bob Balfanz

November 20, 2013 at 2:57 PM

Question of the Week: Is it ever OK to let kids skip school?

Illustration by Paul Tong / Op Art

Illustration by Paul Tong / Op Art

Recent research from Johns Hopkins researcher Bob Balfanz has shed new light on the connection between chronic absenteeism and high-school dropout rates.

Among his findings: sixth-graders who miss 20 or more days of class have just a 20-percent chance of graduating on time.

Although chronic absenteeism — defined as missing 18 or more days of class in Seattle — can have dire consequences, the data also show that missing just a week of school can have detrimental effects.

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Comments | More in Question of the Week | Topics: absenteeism, attendance, Bob Balfanz