Providence Schools Show Four-Year Reduction

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The Providence Public School Department (PPSD) has released a new report providing a look at chronic absenteeism rates, defined as students missing 10% or more of school during a year, highlighting data for the overall district, grade levels and individual schools over the last five school years.

At the district level, there has been a four-year positive trend in chronic absenteeism rates, decreasing from 36.6% in the 2009-10 school year to 30.7% in the 2013-14 school year. The rate at the middle school level also shows a four-year positive trend, decreasing from 32.2% in the 2009-10 school year to 25.18% in the 2013-14 school year. The high school level shows a three-year positive trend, decreasing chronic absenteeism rates from 55.5% in the 2010-2011 school year to 45.6% in the 2013-14 school year.

On the elementary level, there was a small decline in chronic absenteeism rates from the 2012-13 school year (26%) to the 2013-14 school year (25%). However, several elementary schools showed greater success this past school year, such as Leviton Dual Language Elementary School (12.6%), Reservoir Avenue Elementary School (13.5%) and Vartan Gregorian Elementary School (14.4%). 

“Every morning we meet with our students to reinforce our high expectations for them. That’s a constant in our school – reminding them of what it takes to be their best,” said Dr. Javier Montanez, principal of Leviton Dual Language Elementary School. “Our students understand that we can’t help them if they’re not here, and they seem to take that message to heart. We’re proud of the outcomes of those expectations, with our students working hard at keeping up their attendance.”

In November 2011, PPSD began raising awareness about the need to address chronic absenteeism, which included hosting a workshop with a national issue leader, Hedy Chang, creating school-based attendance teams at schools throughout the district, and several high schools partnering with Get Schooled, a national non-profit that leverages key teen influencers and media to encourage attendance, which has since grown to now include nine high schools. PPSD’s efforts are further supported by the Providence Children and Youth Cabinet (CYC), which organizes agencies and organizations that work with Providence children and youth on key focus areas, including attendance improvement.

Mount Pleasant High School, one of the schools that partners with Get Schooled, reduced their chronic absenteeism rate drastically in just two years, from 58.7% in the 2011-2012 school year to 42.4% in the 2013-14 school year.

“We are heartened to see our efforts to reduce chronic absenteeism showing such progress this early on,” said Mayor Angel Taveras. “We must continue our efforts to educate parents and children alike on the importance of being in the classroom and the impact it has on their future success.”

“This report shows us that our targeted efforts are indeed making an impact, but we still have an incredible amount of work left to do,” said Providence Schools Superintendent Dr. Susan F. Lusi. “Students can’t succeed academically unless they’re in school. We strive to provide our students with the motivation and support they need to come to school and learn, and look forward to continuing to work with our entire community to do just that.”

While the Rhode Island Department of Education reports district attendance rates by factoring data only from students that have attended 90 days or more of school during a year, PPSD is committed to every child that walks through a school door. PPSD’s district-level attendance data accounts for all children that attended a Providence Public School for any time duration during a school year.

The full report can be viewed at http://tinyurl.com/nyr6d5f.

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