District Examines Impact of Student Attendance on Learning

For Immediate Release: February 8, 2018

Contact: Tina Firesheets (336) 370-8307
Media Desk (336) 574-5730

District Examines Impact of Student Attendance on Learning
13 percent of all GCS students miss 19 days or more annually

Greensboro, N.C. – GCS leaders are examining the connection between attendance and student achievement as they develop the district’s next strategic plan.

District leaders presented a baseline report of 2016-17 student attendance at the Guilford County Board of Education meeting, Thursday. The analysis was undertaken in response to the board’s recently approved academic goals. Student attendance is a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for three of the goals including:

* Goal I: By 2022, the percentage of students who will read proficiently by the end of third grade will increase to 63 percent (currently 53.4 percent).

* Goal II: 75 percent of incoming sixth-graders will pass NC Math I (Algebra I) with a C or better by the end of their ninth grade year in 2022 (currently 69.8 percent).

* Goal III: Percentage of students absent overall and in comparison to proportional representation (measured in increments of 5-9 days absent, 10-19 days absent and greater than 20 days absent.)

National studies have shown that using absenteeism as a trigger for early intervention could be especially important for increasing student achievement for all students and closing achievement gaps between groups of students, both of which are top priorities for Superintendent Sharon L. Contreras.

The national research also indicates that school absenteeism is influenced by such non-school factors as physical, mental and dental/oral health, food insecurity, bus stop locations, lack of safe routes to school, inclement weather and other factors. Chronic health conditions like diabetes and asthma also play a role.

As a result, although many school absences are considered excused, the repeated loss of learning time takes its toll. Children living in poverty are two to three times more likely to be chronically absent, studies show. Research also indicates that students of color, as well as those with disabilities, are disproportionately affected.

GCS’ KPI baseline data shows that overall, 13 percent of GCS students are absent more than 19 days. Black and Hispanic students have slightly higher percentages of students absent more than 19 days. Students with disabilities exhibit greater absences than their peers without disabilities. High schools have higher percentages of students absent more than 19 days, followed by middle, then elementary. There were no discernible differences by gender or between students learning English and native English speakers.

The district also looked at chronic absenteeism, which is defined by the North Carolina State Board of Education as a student who misses at least 10 percent of the total number of days they have been enrolled at a particular school that year.

Overall, 16 percent of GCS students are chronically absent. Black and Hispanic students have higher rates of chronic absenteeism. Students with disabilities also exhibit more chronic absences than those without. Students learning English have lower rates of chronic absences. And, as with the KPI data, high school students have higher percentages of chronic absenteeism, followed by middle, then elementary students.

Next steps include additional data analysis and parent surveys to determine why some GCS students miss more than others and then developing strategies to address the issue.

About Guilford County Schools
Guilford County Schools, the third largest school district in North Carolina, the 47th largest of more than 14,000 in the United States, and serves more than 73,000 PK-12 students at 126 schools. With approximately 10,000 employees, GCS works in partnership with parents, businesses, colleges and the community to deliver an education that connects student interests and skills with the careers and economy of our future here and around the world. We provide educational choices to meet individual student needs in a culturally diverse citizenship and new opportunities to help our students Soar to Greatness. For more information, visit the district’s website at www.gcsnc.com.

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