School is back in for OUSD, but for many students, they aren’t really showing up.
Almost a third of OUSD’s students are chronically absent right now, and nearly half are at risk of being so. That alongside a loss of nearly 2000 students over the last couple of years. OUSD is a district that will soon be facing severe resource challenges not to mention the challenges of re-engaging and catching up students who have not been attending school.
You can see the data on OUSD’s website
Brandon Wall, raised some of the implications of this data
“We all know Chronic absenteeism is a big deal. It can be a sign of a lack of engagement and can really slow the academic progress that a child (or often an entire classroom) can make. High absenteeism rates can be challenging for teachers, who are faced with the dilemma of lots of reteaching (that makes it difficult to keep pace on scope and sequence) or leaving kids who’ve been absent with a lot with content and skill gaps. In normal times, it also has serious financial implications through its impact on ADA.
This raises a number of questions:
* why are so many kids missing so much school, especially at the elementary level? Is it because of covid concern or is it something else?
* which demographic subgroups and grade levels are missing the most school?
* why are some schools with similar demographics seeing pretty different rates of chronic absenteeism?
* are schools reaching out to families whose students are missing lots of school? Are they leveraging personal connections to families and using whatever mode of communication (text, phone, email, home visits) is most effective on a case-by-case basis?
* are we supporting students that have been missing a lot of school with 1:1 devices at home, asynchronous work, outreach/check-ins with teachers?
* what else?”
You can also view individual schools and have it broken out by race. Some interesting points come up, many schools have around a 50% chronic absence rates for Black children, and its not necessarily the most resourced challenged schools with the highest rates. Some of the Flatland schools had relatively lower rates, which indicates some strong community building and support structures.
Kids and families, I know were thrilled to get back to live schooling, by and large, and the beginning of the year is typically has higher attendance rates. We need to get some better answers on improving these numbers, for the academic futures of these children, and the financial future of the district. The federal money that is keeping OUSD afloat right now will run out, and unless they can start answering some of these bottom line questions, the upcoming cuts will be even deeper and more damaging.