Tuesday, August 16, 2011

-CORRECTION-
In the following story Jen Gollan from the Bay Citizen cited figures she found on the California Department of Education (CDE) website without taking the time to question that given the outlier in what is otherwise a stable pattern these data may not in fact be accurate. I alerted Jen Gollan to this fact but she cited them anyway.

Here is the site she went to for truancy figures: http://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/Expulsion/ExpReports/DistrictExp.aspx?cYear=2009-10&cChoice=DstExp1a&cCounty=38&cNumber=3868478&cName=San+Francisco+Unified

Here is what it shows:
Year Enrollment Students w/ 3 or more w/ unexcused absence or tardy Truancy Rate
2004-2005 56823 5449 9.59%
2005-2006 55823 16024 28.71%
2006-2007 55141 15149 27.47%
2007-2008 55094 15630 28.37%
2008-2009 54636 15017 27.49%
2009-2010 55133 13442 24.38%


As Jen began inquiring about this around 1:00 p.m. on the day before it published, district authorities on the matter weren’t able to produce an explanation by her deadline. I did state that “I would try to ascertain whether or not this is correct. The fact that the numbers for all other years are relatively similar makes me question these numbers. I am checking to see if I can find anything out about this.”

The next morning I alerted Jen Gollan that what was reported in the 2004/2005 school year through the State system “Dataquest” was, as far as we can ascertain, inaccurately low. The 2004/2005 school year was the first that the State was requesting this truancy data. At that time, this was all done manually, and all schools were surveyed as to the number of “first truancy” letters sent, and that is what was reported. Obviously, that resulted in a serious under reporting of actual truants. In all subsequent years, the data reported was pulled from IT reports based on the legal definition of Truancy, and the numbers have been pretty consistent across those years.

Secondly, the definition of truancy on the CDE site “3 or more unexcused absences” is not the same as what the district is targeting with regards to our truancy reduction efforts. We are looking at reducing chronic (20 or more unexcused absences) and habitual (10 to 19 unexcused absences). The drop in these numbers is what we reported on recently. This year, there was a 16 percent reduction in the number of chronically absent students from the 2009-2010 to 2010-2011 school year and an 11 percent reduction in the number of habitually absent students for the same period.

Though provided, none of this information appeared in Ms. Gollan’s story.

- Gentle Blythe
________________________

By Jennifer Gollan on August 11, 2011 - 7:56 p.m. PDT

With the new school year set to begin Monday, the San Francisco Unified School District on Thursday touted new figures showing that its chronic absentee rate declined for the fourth consecutive year.
But its absentee rate is at odds with its truancy rate, which more than doubled to about 24 percent between the 2004-05 and 2009-10 school years, according to state figures.
The rates are essentially different yardsticks. Under state law, students are truant if they miss at least half an hour of instruction — without an excuse — on three or more occasions during the school year. School districts in California are required to report these figures to the state Department of Education.
But many educators think California should instead require school districts to track and report chronic absenteeism, defined by the state as a student who misses 10 percent or more of the school year. They argue that chronic absenteeism is a more accurate measure than truancy because it counts full-day absences, rather than students who miss half of a single class, for example.

With the new school year set to begin Monday, the San Francisco Unified School District on Thursday touted new figures showing that its chronic absentee rate declined for the fourth consecutive year.
But its absentee rate is at odds with its truancy rate, which more than doubled to about 24 percent between the 2004-05 and 2009-10 school years, according to state figures.
The rates are essentially different yardsticks. Under state law, students are truant if they miss at least half an hour of instruction — without an excuse — on three or more occasions during the school year. School districts in California are required to report these figures to the state Department of Education.
But many educators think California should instead require school districts to track and report chronic absenteeism, defined by the state as a student who misses 10 percent or more of the school year. They argue that chronic absenteeism is a more accurate measure than truancy because it counts full-day absences, rather than students who miss half of a single class, for example.
With the new school year set to begin Monday, the San Francisco Unified School District on Thursday touted new figures showing that its chronic absentee rate declined for the fourth consecutive year.
But its absentee rate is at odds with its truancy rate, which more than doubled to about 24 percent between the 2004-05 and 2009-10 school years, according to state figures.
The rates are essentially different yardsticks. Under state law, students are truant if they miss at least half an hour of instruction — without an excuse — on three or more occasions during the school year. School districts in California are required to report these figures to the state Department of Education.
But many educators think California should instead require school districts to track and report chronic absenteeism, defined by the state as a student who misses 10 percent or more of the school year. They argue that chronic absenteeism is a more accurate measure than truancy because it counts full-day absences, rather than students who miss half of a single class, for example.




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