Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

Figuring out why kids don't come to school

Poor student attendance is one of the biggest problems facing Buffalo, as well as most other urban districts. It's pretty simple: If students are not in school, they can't learn -- no matter how beloved the teacher is, how engaging the lesson is, or how interactive the classroom technology is.

Buffalo officials are taking steps to help them understand why students don't come to school. They've asked Hedy Chang, a California-based national researcher who specializes in student attendance issues, to analyze student attendance in the Queen City.

Getting off the school bus The district has already provided her with several years of student attendance data from Buffalo. Next, she'll come up with specific questions to ask focus groups in Buffalo over the next several weeks. While focus groups are not known for yielding the strongest scientific data, local officials say they believe it's the research method most likely to help them reach an understanding of why kids don't show up to school.

The current issue of Education Week takes a look at attendance issues on the national level. The story, which cites Chang as an expert in the field, notes that Baltimore seems to be making the best progress in battling student absenteeism.

Reporter Sarah D. Sparks writes: "The district has moved to require an attendance monitor in every school, as well as districtwide incentives for students to come to school more often and education for parents and teachers on the importance of attendance."

Sparks goes on to tell about Deidre Reeder, an attendance monitor at an elementary school. She "makes her first of three rounds at 8 a.m., ducking into classrooms to check attendance. For the students who aren't there, she gets on the phone to parents, grandparents, whoever is available...

"'If some children have missed a day or two, then I go out and get in my truck, because I know I'm going to be makign a stop,' Ms. Reeder said. 'People will hear me knocking on the door, and the kids just start getting dressed.'"

- Mary Pasciak

buffalonews.com/city/schools          twitter.com/schoolzoneblog

comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement

About School Zone

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

@denisejewellgee | [email protected]


Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

@TiffanyLankes | [email protected]


Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

@BNschoolzone | [email protected]


Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

@DeidreWilliamsB | [email protected]

Subscribe

Advertisement