CSBA Daily News Roundup: Enrollment down, absences up
In their commitment to keeping members informed, CSBA shared ABC7's televised news story about "missing" students—which featured a short interview with myself and my colleague Brenda Tapp, along with data from SI&A's statewide chronic absence report.
Although SI&A's district partners were actively contacting families and tracking detailed attendance and participation data, school closures caused even pro-active districts to see an uptick in absences—but at a rate of increase far below non-partner districts. (See the numbers here.)
As every district plans for learning loss recovery in the coming school year, we replay that same old song and sing along: A strong attendance improvement strategy (with tiered interventions and positive communications) should be front and center.
Enrollment is down and absences are up - here's what educators are doing to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic
According to data from School Innovations and Achievement, a company that offers software and services to schools aimed at improving attendance, chronic absence rates increased by 39 percent from March 2020 to March 2021 across SI&A's 33 California school district partners in 18 counties.
SI&A defines chronic absenteeism as missing more than 10 percent of the school year. Hispanic and Black students had the highest rates of chronic absenteeism in March 2021, according to SI&A's numbers, which were presented at a State Attendance Review Board meeting in April. Latino students' chronic absenteeism rates were at nearly 21 percent and Black students at 30 percent. White students, for comparison, had chronic absenteeism rates of just about 12 percent.
"There's always been gaps and divides in education, the achievement gap attendance, gap, access gaps, income gaps, right?" said Erica Peterson, the National Education Manager at SI&A. "So, what has happened with school closures in the pandemic, and sort of this immediate shutdown in schools is it's just shined a light and exacerbated," Peterson said.
Communication was one of the key solutions that Peterson discussed around improving attendance. That includes effectively communicating problems, the processes that could be solutions to those problems and finally, the outcomes of those solutions. "It really comes down to early identification, early intervention, actively communicating in native languages when required, offering support, and then using data to inform and drive new action as you go," Peterson said.