All Succeed in School
As the 2018-2019 school year draws to a close, SBRT will be bringing you on-the-ground insights from our school partners on how they are increasing the quality of education and working towards improving academic outcomes. For the first installment in this series, we are excited to highlight P.S. 42 and its Principal Lucia Orduz-Castillo.
1. What do you attribute to your success?
It’s a team effort. There are so many moving pieces that it takes a number of dedicated staff members to ensure forward movement. Staff has to believe in their contribution to a student’s attendance – and the impact they can make, regardless of their title in a school building.
2. How do you use data for attendance improvement efforts?
Data analysis, for example, helps us to identify students who are at-risk of becoming chronically absent. These students are then paired with a success mentor who checks in with them daily. We identify the more severe cases through data analysis as well, and attach those students to clinicians in our school. As for our preventative strategies, we use the summer months to analyze historical data to help us create universal attendance initiatives. Data will tell us, for example, school dates that are historically poorly attended, or days of the week where attendance is higher than others. Such information is essential in making necessary changes to avoid history repeating itself.
3. How do you address chronic absenteeism?
We begin by identifying the students as early as August, and sharing a personalized attendance report of the previous school year with those families in a welcome back packet. We also attach the chronically absent students to a more experienced success mentor, such as our school’s social workers. The clinicians are expected to begin to work with students as early as the second week of school. Any student who hits 10 days of absence has a letter sent home requesting a personal meeting with the Principal. At the meeting, parents receive an explanation that continued absences will result in chronic or severely chronically absent labels for their children. We also seek to understand the reason for the absences at such meetings and attempt to connect the parent with necessary resources to avoid continued absences.
4. What support would you need from the local community to have greater success?
30% of our students are those in temporary housing. Ironically, although the DOE has staff inside of neighborhood shelters, a large portion of our chronically absent students are in temporary housing. We need to ensure that staff at shelters are working in unison with a school’s attendance team. There should be daily efforts to ensure that all children living in a shelter are in school even if it means doing a morning roll call, or providing a walking bus from the shelter to the school building. It is unacceptable for school attendance not to be enforced in a shelter.