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Data analysis shows attendance counts in Richmond, Columbia counties and Georgia

Analysis shows school attendance more important for poorer pupils

Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012 12:14 AM
Last updated 5:02 AM
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Research now backs up what common sense long has dictated: Richmond County students who don’t go to school every day are more likely to fail grade-level state tests and much less likely to graduate within four years of entering high school.

ROTC Cadet Staff Sgt. William A. Strobert marches with fellow ROTC members during Club Day at the Academy of Richmond County. The once-a-week Club Day was created in hopes of boosting attendance.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
ROTC Cadet Staff Sgt. William A. Strobert marches with fellow ROTC members during Club Day at the Academy of Richmond County. The once-a-week Club Day was created in hopes of boosting attendance.

An Augusta Chronicle analysis of Georgia Department of Edu­cation data shows Richmond Coun­ty students who scored at the highest levels on the 2010 Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests generally had higher rates of attendance than the state average, and were neck-and-neck with their high-scoring peers in Columbia County.

That suggests a conclusion backed up by national research: Attendance is even more important for students living in poverty than those in middle- and high-income families. About 75 percent of Richmond County students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, compared with only about 30 percent of Columbia County students.

Research shows “chronic absence in kindergarten tends to predict much lower test scores in fifth grade only if the students are in poverty,” said Hedy Chang, the director of Attendance Works, a group that promotes awareness of the role attendance plays in academic success.

The Chronicle’s analysis of Geor­gia’s data also shows students who graduated had higher average attendance rates than those who did not – in Richmond County, Columbia County, the state and most of Geor­gia’s school districts.

“It is intuitive that higher absenteeism negatively impacts student achievement,” Georgia Super­in­ten­dent John Barge said when the state De­partment of Education released its findings in September. “But, for the first time, we have concrete evidence of how much of an impact it has.”

The Chronicle explored the importance of student attendance rates to graduation rates during the past year.

Recently, the Education Depart­ment issued its report summarizing its research into the importance of attendance. The state’s review looked at the effect of attendance not just on graduation, but also on student achievement.

USING DATA FROM the Class of 2010, the state found that students who missed 11 to 14 days of school when they were in eighth grade, in 2005-06, had a 52.3 percent graduation rate, compared with 78.7 percent for their peers who did not miss a day in eighth grade.

The state also concluded, using 2010 CRCT data, that increasing student attendance by just 3 percent – five instructional days based on the traditional 180-day school calendar – could have led to more than 10,000 more pupils passing the CRCT reading exam, and more than 30,000 additional pupils passing the CRCT math test.

The Chronicle obtained the data the state used to draw its conclusions through an Open Records Act request.

The newspaper’s analysis of statewide student-level data shows that, when students scoring in each achievement level of CRCT exams are compared, similar patterns emerge across Richmond and Columbia counties and the state.

Richmond County pupils who scored at the highest levels of CRCT math in 2010 had slightly higher average attendance rates than their counterparts in Columbia County and Georgia overall. The same is generally true for CRCT reading, with the exception being that Columbia County’s attendance rate edged out Richmond County’s among students scoring at the “exceeds” level by 96.89 percent to 96.88 percent.

CHANG SAID THAT while attendance is important no matter what students’ economic situations are, it is crucial that children living in poverty consistently attend school.

Pupils living in middle-class homes tend to have advantages that children living in poverty might not have: parents who regularly read to them and reinforce what is taught in school, and a regular source of nutritious food.

“The (low-income) kids with high attendance – the ones whose families manage to get them to school every day – are the ones who have the highest scores,” Chang said.

Georgia’s findings conclude that any absence, excused or unexcused, hurts student achievement. The cumulative effect is noticeable after five missed days in a year.

“This research will help us as parents and educators to strategically improve attendance rates among Georgia’s students,” Barge said. “We can use this information to change the conversation, especially as it relates to excused vs. unexcused absences. The data is clear that excused and unexcused absences have the same negative impact.”

2010 ABSENTEE, GRADUATION RATES

An analysis of state education data shows students who graduated had higher average attendance rates than those who did not.

RICHMOND COUNTY SCHOOL       15+ DAYS ABSENT     GRAD RATE

Academy of Richmond County                            28.5%                               79.3%

A.R. Johnson Magnet School                                 3.9%                                100%

Butler High School                                                35.3%                               72.5%

Cross Creek High School                                      25.9%                               79.8%

Glenn Hills High School                                       27.8%                               78.5%

Hephzibah High School                                        28.9%                               74.3%

John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School        3.5%                                100%

Lucy C. Laney High School                                  38.7%                               62.9%

T.W. Josey High School                                       39.4%                                72.2%

Westside High School                                          28.5%                               78.4%

COLUMBIA COUNTY SCHOOL       15+ DAYS ABSENT     GRAD RATE

Evans High School                                                 11.9%                              82.8%

Greenbrier High School                                         9.8%                                  90%

Harlem High School                                             14.2%                               63.6%

Lakeside High School                                           13.1%                               89.6%

LEARN MORE

Georgia Department of Education Student Attendance Toolkit (includes link to a PowerPoint Presentation outlining findings of state study on school attendance): www.gadoe.org/pea_policy.aspx?PageReq=PEAPolicyAttendance

2010 study showing low-income children more adversely affected by absenteeism than others: www.attendancecounts.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Ready-2010-2.pdf

2005 study showing effect of kindergarten absenteeism on fifth-grade test scores of children living in poverty: www.nccp.org/publications/pub_837.html

2011 report showing importance of attendance in prekindergarten programs for literacy development: www.springerlink.com/content/jx6241lp87329776/

National Summer Learning Association (argues importance of summer school for low-income children): www.summerlearning.org

Attendance Works (promotes importance of school attendance for students’ academic success): www.attendanceworks.org

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copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 02/05/12 - 07:48 am
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I wonder how much was spent

I wonder how much was spent on this study to determine that students learn only if they attend class! What a novel idea! Actually go to class to learn! Next they will have a study that will find,after many dollars are spent, that we actually must breathe to stay alive.

copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 02/05/12 - 07:49 am
0
0
I wonder how much was spent

I wonder how much was spent on this study to determine that students learn only if they attend class! What a novel idea! Actually go to class to learn! Next they will have a study that will find,after many dollars are spent, that we actually must breathe to stay alive.

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 02/05/12 - 08:56 am
0
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The critical element in poor

The critical element in poor academic achievement in most underperforming schools is not attendance. It is the lack of order and respect in classrooms, labs, corridors, bathrooms, cafeteria, school busses et al. Disrespect and disorder, particularly in classrooms and labs, account for much more academic underperformance than does student absence. Ask any recently retired teacher as s/he is both familiar with current school conditions and outside the educracy's informal system of retaliation against "snitches."

my.voice
4811
Points
my.voice 02/05/12 - 09:36 am
0
0
Genius.....who would have

Genius.....who would have ever drawn a link between attendance and learning.

Snapping Turtle
0
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Snapping Turtle 02/05/12 - 10:48 am
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It sure looks like a case

It sure looks like a case could be made that the Harlem data presents an outlier in a scatter plot. It has long been known that students do not attend due to lack of interest in the subject matter. Question is, what can be done to make school experience more relevant and rewarding to the bored student? We need life-changing philosophy here.

Austin Rhodes
2862
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Austin Rhodes 02/05/12 - 11:10 am
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How about this...sorry

How about this...sorry parents in large concentrations create sorry students in large concentrations which bring certain schools concentrations of sorry students not showing up whose sorry parents don't care.

swimmer
5
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swimmer 02/05/12 - 11:28 am
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So, so true, Austin.

So, so true, Austin.

Willow Bailey
20580
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Willow Bailey 02/05/12 - 04:07 pm
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Attendance is about support

Attendance is about support from home and the school. Many children are disadvantaged because of their home life. That doesn't make them sorry; just burdened down and distracted by figuring out how to survive.

Schools must decide if they are going to rise to the occasion to educationally and emotionally offer the support combined with real life rewards and consequences to these students. Not every student will choose to cooperate, but the ones who do, will be greatly benefit.

The influence of good teachers make real differences in lives; that is their purpose. Those who are negative and bitter should find new jobs.

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