Success in school depends on students actually being there

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Making an outstate tour in preparation for the new school year, Nancy Fulton, president of the Nebraska State Education Association, emphasized the partnership between schools and parents as key to a successful educational experience for the state's students.

Regular two-way communications -- not just at parent-teacher conferences or during crisis situations -- can help deal with issues that might otherwise hinder learning.

But it goes without say that neither schools nor parents can do their jobs if students aren't in school.

Nebraska passed a tougher truancy law two years ago, then eased it somewhat last year, but it will take time for the effects of both to settle in.

Whether legally required or not, there is good reason for parents to make sure their children are in school. Some of the stats cited by the NSEA:

* During the 2009-10 school year, nearly 22,000 Nebraska students missed more than 20 days of school.

* During the 2010-11 year, fourth-graders who missed more than 20 days of school scored 21 points lower on statewide reading assessments than those who missed fewer than 20 days.

* During the 2010-11 school year, 11th graders who missed more than 20 days of school scored 30 points lower on statewide reading assessments than those who missed fewer than 20 days.

* Research shows frequently absent eighth-graders had less than a 50 percent high school graduation rate.

* 93 percent of freshmen who miss less than a week of school over the course of a year, graduate on time, in four years.

* According to the Nebraska Department of Education, one in every 10 students statewide drop out of school and do not graduate within the typical 4-hear high school program. The graduation rate is even lower for most Omaha Metro area schools.

According to a study of 13,000 Philadelphia school district students, those who are at risk for dropping out of school can be identified as early as sixth-grade with four simple indicators:

* Attending school 80 percent or less of the time during sixth-grade

* Failing math in sixth-grade

* Failing English in sixth-grade

* Receiving an out-of-school suspension in sixth grade.

* Habitual truancy is the first indicator of the eventual dropping out of school.

As the summer winds down and the school year revs up, now is the time to take the steps to make sure your student has a successful year.

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