Research Articles

In School + On Track

In School + On Track: Attorney General’s 2013 Report on California’s Elementary School Truancy & Absenteeism Crisis

(California data contributed by School Innovations & Achievement, Attention2Attendance)

Given the disturbing statistics, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris commissioned a study to examine the scope, causes and effects of truancy and absenteeism in California. The study also focused on what law enforcement, parents, educators, non-profits, public agencies and concerned community members can and must do about this problem. The findings are stark. We are failing our children.

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Preventing Student Disengagement and Keeping Students on the Graduation Path

“This article considers the practical, conceptual, and empirical foundations of an early identification and intervention system for middle-grades schools to combat student disengagement and increase graduation rates in our nation’s cities. Many students in urban schools become disengaged at the start of the middle grades, which greatly reduces the odds that they will eventually
graduate. We use longitudinal analyses—following almost 13,000 students from 1996 until 2004—to demonstrate how four predictive indicators reflecting poor attendance, misbehavior, and course failures in sixth grade can be used to identify 60% of the students who will not graduate from high school. Fortunately, by combining effective whole-school reforms with attendance,
behavioral, and extra-help interventions, graduation rates can be substantially increased.”

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What Matters for Staying On-Track and Graduating in Chicago Public High Schools

“The dropout problem is also difficult to manage because its causes are many and complex. Research on dropping out has shown that the decision to persist in or leave school is affected by multiple contextual factors— family, school, neighborhood, peers—interacting in a cumulative way over the life course of a student.4 This suggests a daunting task for dealing with the problem of dropout—if so many factors are involved in the decision to drop out of school, including experiences outside of school and in early grades, how can any high school effort substantially address the problem?”

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Socioeconomic Disadvantage, School Attendance, and Early Cognitive Development

“Over the past several decades, hundreds of empirical studies have documented the associations between social class and children’s cognitive abilities. Perhaps the least disputed conclusion to emerge from educational research over the past half-century is that socioeconomically disadvantaged children are less likely to experience school success. Low-income students enter kindergarten academically behind their more advantaged peers (Entwisle, Alexander, and Olson 1997; Lee and Burkam 2002; Mayer 1997), and these initial cognitive differences increase as children progress through school (Downey, von Hippel, and Broh 2004; Phillips, Crouse, and Ralph 1998; Reardon 2003). Myriad explanations have been offered for this inequality, including disparities in family, school, and neighborhood resources; the persistent associations between social class and race; and sociocultural disconnects between home and school environments.”

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Preschool Attendance in Chicago Public Schools

“Significant attention is currently focused on ensuring that children are enrolled in preschool. However, regular attendance is also critically important. Children with better preschool attendance have higher kindergarten readiness scores; this is especially true for students entering with low skills. Unfortunately, many preschool-aged children are chronically absent. They often miss preschool for health reasons, but many families also face a range of logistical obstacles in getting their children to preschool every day.”

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Early Elementary Performance and Attendance In Baltimore

“This study looks at attendance in the early grades of elementary school. In particular, we focus on students enrolled in Pre-Kindergarten (PreK) and Kindergarten (K). We follow these young students over several years to determine their pattern of chronic absence (CA), defined as missing more than one-ninth of days enrolled, and their later attendance and academic outcomes.”

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Present and Accounted for: Improving Student Attendance through Family and Community Involvement

“Reducing the rates of student truancy and chronic absenteeism has been and continues to be a goal of many schools and school systems. Despite the long history of concern over student attendance, the issue has received relatively little attention from educational researchers (Corville- Smith, 1995). Researchers have focused more attention on the issue of students who dropout of school before receiving a high school diploma than on issues related to rates of daily student attendance. The research that has been conducted on student absenteeism suggests that it may be as important as any issue confronting schools today. Moreover, studies suggest that schools can affect student attendance by implementing specific procedures and activities.”

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Present, Engaged, and Accounted For

“At the core of school improvement and education reform is an assumption so widely understood that it is rarely invoked: students have to be present and engaged in order to learn. That is why the discovery that thousands of our youngest students are academically at-risk because of extended absences when they first embark upon their school careers is as remarkable as it is consequential. Schools and communities have a choice: we can work together early on to ensure families get their children to class consistently or we can pay later for failing to intervene before problems are more difficult and costly to ameliorate.”

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