A simple way to increase the probability of student success: Regular Attendance at School
Recently, school administrators have been engaged in several discussions, workshops and webinars related to school attendance. Chronic absenteeism from school is a national crisis, and Exeter-West Greenwich is no different. While we do not experience the same high levels of chronic absenteeism as some other districts in our state and nation, the fact is that many of our children have developed patterns of regular non-attendance that are of significant concern.
Chronic absenteeism from school is defined as missing 10% or more of the school year (18 or more days for a 180-day school year). This amounts to an average of just 2 days or more per month.... and while that statistic does not appear to be alarming, reputable national studies indicate otherwise.
Here are some real statistics from those national and state studies:
Nationally, 64% of third graders who missed less than 5% of school days in both grades K and 1 scored proficient on third grade ELA state assessments.
Only 43% of third graders who missed just 5-9% of school days in both grades K and 1 scored proficient on the same state assessments.
And for those third grade students who missed 10% or more of school days in both grades K and 1 - only 17% were proficient on the third grade ELA assessments.
In Rhode Island, 75% of students who were not chronically absent in kindergarten scored proficient in third grade ELA compared to only 57% of their chronically absent peers. In math, the figures for the same students are 68% compared to 43%
80% of Rhode Island seventh graders who were not chronically absent in kindergarten scored proficient in seventh grade ELA compared to only 61% of their chronically absent peers. In math, the figures for the same students are 67% compared to 40%
In another study, students with just one year of chronic absenteeism in grades 1 through 5 were 5.9 times more likely to be chronically absent in grade 6. Students with two years of chronic absenteeism in grades 1 through 5 were 7.8 times more likely to be chronically absent in grade 6. And students who were chronically absent three times in grades 1 through 5 were 18.0 times more likely to be chronically absent in grade 6. Patterns of good attendance are established early in a child's educational career... and it matters a lot!
In Exeter-West Greenwich, we are taking a close look at our graduation rates and drop-out rates at the high school level. The trend is concerning. Although addressing the issue will require a multi-faceted approach, attendance at school is one of the variables that everyone can help us to improve.
In another study of high school drop out rates, students with zero years of chronic absenteeism in grades 8-12 had a 10.3% drop out rate. Students with just one year of chronic absenteeism in grades 8-12 had a 36.4% drop out rate. Students with two years of chronic absenteeism in grades 8-12 had a 51.8% drop out rate. Students with 4 years of chronic absenteeism in grades 8-12 had a 61.3% drop out rate.
We realize that people get sick, and sometimes absences are necessary. However, these statistics show that taking time out of school is not something that any of us should take lightly. We have many outstanding and dedicated educators who want what is best for all of our students, but it is hard to recreate the dynamics of classroom instruction for a student who is not present on any given day. We want our students present, and we want you to help us by understanding the importance of regular school attendance and conveying that message to every child.
Last year in our school district, 19% of students in grades K-3 were absent 12 or more days. 14% of our middle school students were absent 12 or more days. 20% (1 out of every 5) of our high school students were absent 12 or more days. We have some work to do.
Take proper precautions to stay healthy. Dress to prevent sickness. Eat well. Always get a good night's sleep. Reach out if there is a way the EWG community can assist in any way to resolve issues that may interfere with regular attendance at school. We are committed to the best possible outcomes for every child, from preschool through graduation.
Check out the happiness on this third grade student's face after setting a personal goal for improving his math fluency, working hard to achieve that goal, and finding out that he actually reached it. This is what it is all about. Anything is possible if you show up and engage.
Congratulations, Brody, on a job well done and Happy Holidays to all!