Local school districts face attendance challenges

2 years 1 month 1 week ago Thursday, October 08 2015 Oct 8, 2015 Thursday, October 08, 2015 5:29:00 PM CDT October 08, 2015 in News
By: Nicole Shaddy, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

FULTON - The U.S. Department of Education is looking to crack down on school attendance across the country--something that some local school districts battle every day.

The Education Department announced the Obama Administration's "Every Student, Every Day" initiative yesterday, asking local public school districts to create programs that cut down on chronic absenteeism. According to the Education Department, chronic absenteeism means a child isn't in school at least 10 percent of the time during the year, or about 18 days. As many as 7.5 million children in the United States are chronically absent each year.

Fulton Public Schools Superintendent Jacque Cowherd said chronic absenteeism has always been an issue, and a lot of it stems from a child's family life.

"Poverty's a heck of a problem, and when you have poverty issues you have issues of non-attendance a lot of the time, not always," Cowherd said. "When you get into some of the issues you have poor home life or an abundance of criminal activity in the home or parents incarcerated."

According to the Education Department, elementary school children who are chronically absent are less likely to read at grade level by third grade. And in high school, attendance records are better indicators of dropout rates than test scores. 

Missouri's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education uses attendance as a factor in its Missouri School Improvement Program, which reviews and accredits all 520 school districts in the state. According to DESE spokesperson Sarah Potter, the state has used what's called the 90-90 rule for evaluating school attendance for several years.

The 90-90 rule is the state's goal for school district attendance. The state wants school districts to have at least 90 percent of students attending school 90 percent of the time. This is how they measure for chronic absenteeism in individual districts. 

According to DESE data, the Columbia Public School District fell just shy of the 90 percent mark as of 2014. The district's 90 percent attendance rate landed at 88.2 percent for the 2014 school year. According to Columbia Public Schools spokesperson Michelle Baumstark, it can be extremely challenging to increase attendance rates when family and community environments play such a big role.

"Ideally we'd like to do more but we can only spread out the resources so far," Baumstark said.

Fulton Public Schools also fell short, with a 90 percent attendance rate of 88.3 percent in 2014. However, Cowherd said their most recent data indicate their 90 percent attendance rate is actually just below 90 percent, at 89.69 percent. Even though they haven't reached the 90 percent mark just yet, they've increased attendance by almost 4 percent since 2012. The district's 90 percent attendance rate was 85.9 percent in 2012. Cowherd said this jump has a lot to do with several intervention programs they've implemented since then.

One example is the free breakfast program in Fulton elementary schools, which was implemented this year. Now, every elementary school student in the district gets a free breakfast upon arrival every morning.

"The biggest issue that we see is breaking down and getting into that home life, and breaking up some of these cycles of poverty, and breaking up some of the other issues that we have trouble controlling," Cowherd said.

He said the most important thing schools can do is provide an engaging and safe environmment that kids want to come to every day.

"It's again, having the principals and administrators and teachers in the hall, and trying to create a welcoming environment, knowing kids' names, recognizing them when they come in, and making them want to come there," Cowherd said.

More News

Grid
List
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — The governor of Missouri has appointed 16 people to help review child abuse cases after the state... More >>
27 minutes ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 12:35:38 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
POTOSI (AP) — An eastern Missouri police officer has died following an off-duty accident. The Daily Journal newspaper in... More >>
1 hour ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 11:22:00 AM CST November 20, 2017 in News
MOBERLY - Authorities are investigating a possible explosion that led to a structure fire in Moberly Sunday night. The... More >>
2 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 10:25:00 AM CST November 20, 2017 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Federal authorities are working to seize more than $491,000 of suspected drug money found during... More >>
5 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 7:47:11 AM CST November 20, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Officers located shell casings and vehicles damaged by gunfire Sunday evening, Jefferson City police said in a... More >>
14 hours ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 10:34:00 PM CST November 19, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Videos surfacing from two Columbia neighborhoods show individuals stealing packages from doorsteps. A video from a neighbor... More >>
15 hours ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 10:00:00 PM CST November 19, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The 38th annual holiday parade kicked off with sirens as police cars took the lead. The parade... More >>
18 hours ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 6:09:00 PM CST November 19, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Two students who studied at Washington University in St. Louis have been selected as Rhodes scholars.... More >>
19 hours ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 5:21:00 PM CST November 19, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - A 29-year-old man was in serious condition Sunday afternoon at University Hospital following a shooting Sunday morning. Columbia... More >>
20 hours ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 4:12:00 PM CST November 19, 2017 in News
NIXA (AP) — A city in southwest Missouri has opened the largest solar farm in the state. The Springfield... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 12:34:00 PM CST November 19, 2017 in News
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Drew Lock threw three touchdown passes and Missouri won its fifth straight game to become bowl... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 7:07:00 AM CST November 19, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - A suspect struck a victim, and suspects fired multiple rounds, brandished at least one firearm and took property... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 11:45:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – While in Chad, Haby Naya learned how to braid hair by doing her friend’s, sister’s and even her... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 11:25:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - If experience is important for success in sports, basketball players worldwide have much to learn from the Granny... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 10:53:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The nonprofit group behind the long-delayed streetcar set to operate in St. Louis' Loop area and... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 8:41:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
BOONE COUNTY - A 19-year-old college freshman was driving home for Thanksgiving break Saturday when a tire on his car... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 7:15:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Dozens of people came out Saturday for the eighth annual Fall Into Art show at Parkade Plaza. ... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 5:19:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
HARRISBURG - A warm bed, a hot meal, and hugs from a loving family member are common enough memories for... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 3:00:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 58°
1pm 58°
2pm 60°
3pm 60°
4pm 59°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

12:30p
Inside Edition
1:00p
Days of Our Lives
2:00p
The Dr. Oz Show
12:00p
Jerry Springer
1:00p
Maury
2:00p
Maury

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
The Voice
9:01p
The Brave
7:00p
Supergirl
8:00p
Valor
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld