Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Self-Soothing with Data: Elementary School Truancy Rates

My kindergartener will be a truant if I send him to public school.  I'm OK with this, and so is SFUSD.

The California Department of Education defines truancy as having 3 unexcused absences or tardies.   SFUSD concerns itself with "habitual truancy" (10-19 unexcused absences or tardies) and "chronic truancy" (>20).

I averaged the truancy rates for the last 3 school years reported because the numbers can vary a lot from year to year.  I also looked at CST test scores, parent education level,  racial and ethnic diversity, and percent of students who are "economically disadvantaged" (free/reduced price lunch).

How much do truancy rates tell us about a school? I'm still touring Starr King for Mandarin immersion, but Rosa Parks didn't make the cut.

Your take: useful or not useful?

SFUSD Truancy Rates by Elementary School,
3 year average for 2008-09, 2009-10, and 2010-11


Lowest truancy rates
Sherman0%
Alice Fong Yu1%
Chinese Education Ctr2%
Edward R. Taylor4%
Francis Scott Key5%
Redding6%
West Portal6%
Jean Parker6%
Sunset6%
CIS at DeAvila7%
Robert Louis Stevenson7%
Jefferson7%
Gordon J. Lau9%
Commodore Sloat10%
Lawton10%

Highest truancy rates
Charles Drew84%
Paul Revere76%
Malcolm X74%
El Dorado69%
Carver67%
Starr King66%
Leonard R. Flynn62%
John Muir60%
Cleveland58%
Bret Harte56%
Rosa Parks55%
Bryant54%
William L. Cobb51%
SF Public Montessori*50%
*Only 1 grade reported


Truancy rates,  all elementary schools

Sherman0%
Alice Fong Yu1%
Chinese Education Ctr2%
Edward R. Taylor4%
Francis Scott Key5%
Redding6%
West Portal6%
Jean Parker6%
Sunset6%
CIS at DeAvila7%
Robert Louis Stevenson7%
Jefferson7%
Gordon J. Lau9%
Commodore Sloat10%
Lawton10%
Ulloa11%
Lafayette11%
Longfellow12%
Garfield13%
Frank Mccoppin13%
Sutro13%
Argonne15%
John Yehall Chin16%
George Peabody16%
Claire Lilienthal17%
Dianne Feinstein17%
Harvey Milk Civil Rights18%
Marshall21%
Monroe24%
Clarendon Alternative24%
Lakeshore Alternative24%
Junipero Serra24%
Glen Park24%
Yick Wo24%
Alvarado27%
Miraloma28%
Alamo28%
Buena Vista29%
Visitacion Valley30%
Guadalupe30%
Mission Education Center31%
Tenderloin Community33%
Creative Arts Charter34%
Jose Ortega34%
George R. Moscone35%
Spring Valley36%
Grattan36%
SF Community36%
Rooftop36%
Daniel Webster37%
Hillcrest38%
New Traditions40%
Cesar Chavez42%
Sheridan42%
Sunnyside45%
Fairmount46%
Mckinley46%
Bessie Carmichael/Fec48%
SF Public Montessor50%
William L. Cobb51%
Sanchez53%
Bryant54%
Rosa Parks55%
Bret Harte56%
Cleveland58%
John Muir60%
Leonard R. Flynn62%
Willie Brown65%
Starr King66%
Carver67%
El Dorado69%
Malcolm X74%
Paul Revere76%
Charles Drew84%
Source: http://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/expulsion/altpage2.asp

14 comments:

  1. Not useful for me.

    Maybe you can share what your logic was for spending time averaging the data and what you thought it might tell you about the schools? I'm curious.

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  2. Some of the truancy data is interesting. Yes, low income schools have the highest truancy rates, but higher that you'd think are schools that have 7:50am start times and/or more affluent populations and are generally more high performing (see Grattan, McKinley, New Traditions, Rooftop, Alvarado, Alamo, Clarendon>)

    My kids have been in school for several years. SFUSD is very aggressive with the truancy stuff. We got called for truancy because my son forgot to get late notes a few times when he came in 10 or so minutes late. Interestingly he is a twin, and while he was called on truancy, she was not. How could this be if they were both there?

    I wouldn't get too worried about this data. You will drive yourself cuckoo!

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  3. I am enjoying your posts because you and I are going at this process with completely different approaches.

    Just so I can understand better, what are you inferring from this data?

    as a side note, we have a family friend who is at one of the lowest truancy rated schools. they took six weeks off to travel last year and never once were they contacted from the school district. they notified the teacher they would be gone but either the teacher did not report it or???

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  4. I wouldn't rule out Rosa Parks just yet, especially if you're interested in the Japanese program. If I'm not mistaken, there are two tracks there (GE and the Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program) and I think the rates could be very different for the two tracks (though averaged in the data).

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  5. Hey 11:34am. Was your friend who traveled for 6 weeks at Sherman? The truancy rate there does not strike me as realistic, and I wouldn't be surprised if there were some manipulation (as in, not reporting.)

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  6. I think truancy rate may tell you something about actual truancy and something about school record-keeping and reporting, and how strict they are about counting absences as excused (eg for family travel). My child's school is listed as having a very high truancy rate. He was listed as truant last year even though I know we provided notes for his absences. So I wouldn't put too much stock into it without more investigation.

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  7. The truancy rates by school were the easiest data to crunch, especially compared to CST test scores that are broken down by grade and categories like "White, Non-economically disadvantaged" and "Parent Education Level-Graduate School,"
    I hoped that truancy rates would give broad information on school culture and what issues the school administration is able to take on. It looks like it doesn't provide much additional information.

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  8. Using this measure will cause increased class and race segregation in our school system, not less.

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  9. To 1:20. I think that if ALL families had access to this level of information, it would affect the schools they chose to look at and potentially decrease segregation.

    Part of the issue with school choice is that when the system is complex or nontransparent, it gives an edge to families with greater time and resources to figure out these numbers.

    I think that school data on truancy, poverty, parent education level, ethnicity, and test scores should be readily available to ALL parents, not just highly educated. internet-savvy ones with spreadsheet skills.

    I've already shared school data with an African American colleague who lives in the Bayview, and it helped her with her kindergarten search.

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  10. Our kids attend Rosa Parks. I want to comment that truancy notices don't necessarily equate with something ominous. We have kids who go on family visits to Japan for 2 weeks at a time, or whose parents' work takes them overseas and the kids go along for an enriching cultural experience. All such absences are considered "unexcused" and generate truancy notices.

    Our own family had a compelling reason to travel East last month (for an event I wouldn't have had my kids miss for the world) and so my own kids just contributed to that overall truancy percentage (despite ample pre-notification, taking homework along with us, etc. - none of that matters re: "truancy")

    Other that the above types of examples, I'm sure there is some delinquency in attendance among some of the disadvantaged kids at the school, but nothing that in any way would lessen YOUR child's experience. The administration itself is very clear that school attendance promotes the best learning.

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  11. Remember that schools get PAID only when students attend. So high truancy rates means underfunding at the school.

    My son's school has a higher than average attendance rate - the principal just did a presentation on our rates and the SFUSD average - we are ahead of the game.

    I think attendance is an important factor, especially if a school doesn't ahve an active fundraising PTA to make up for the lost money.

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  12. How much money does an elementary school loose for a single "truent"?

    My understanding is that a single "truent" is defined as >= 3 days of unexcused absence. Our school, McKinley Elem, has a rate of about 46%. Almost 1/2 of our kids are "truents" which is like stamping 170 kids with a scarlet letter - but this is another matter.

    The per-child cost could amount to quite a bit of cash for our school.

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  13. When the 2012 Giants World Series parade was held in SF, I believe that the amount of funding lost per SFUSD child who missed school that day was reported by the Chronicle to be around $38. Seems like a little different metric than the poster above who reports the "truent" definition as >= 3 unexcused days. I don't know which is correct, but perhaps someone has the desire to research the parade story of 2012.

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    Replies
    1. That sounds about right. SFUSD got $5,347 per student for average daily attendance for 2012-13. Divided by 179.5 instructional days, that's $30 per student per day.
      Sources: SFUSD Recommended Budget for 2012-2013, page 9, and SFUSD Instructional Calendar 2012-2013. Links below.
      http://www.sfusd.edu/en/assets/sfusd-staff/about-SFUSD/files/budget/FY12-13-recommended-budget.pdf
      http://www.sfusd.edu/en/assets/sfusd-staff/news-and-calendars/files/2012-2013%20Instructional%20Calendar%20Final%20with%20furlough%20days%20(final).pdf

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