Thursday, October 11, 2007

Does Communication Equate to Attendance?

We have a very high at-promise population at my charter school. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that 90% of our kids are at serious risk for not completing HS. This is the time of the year when it really starts to get scary. It seems that the initial burst out of the gate wears off right around week 5 (we are in week 7 now) and student's start missing class. Early on attendance is up but then they hit a wall. They just stop showing up. So far this year that hasn't been true in my courses, but its still true in other classes on campus. It got me thinking. If I'm getting 80-100% attendance everyday but many teachers are only getting 40-80% attendance everyday, is there a relationship somehow. I've made some formal and casual observations through substituting and observing classes throughout the day and I see this pattern a lot. A theory has started to form..... The teachers that spend a lot of time tracking students academic achievement, which includes knowing almost every detail of their coursework, monitoring grades bi-weekly, and calling home on a regular basis, seem to have better attendance. The kids whose teachers are much more blase about tracking progress and calling home have lower attendance numbers. Well, thats my hypothesis anyway. I wonder if it could be true.

It would be really interesting to break down attendance numbers by teacher and compare that to the amount of time each teacher spends monitoring students to see if my hypothesis could become a theory (shout out to my 7th grade science teacher for teaching me the difference). Too bad I can't do that. Its pretty invasive and calls for a lot of formal judgment on my part and probably wouldn't lead to any change at our school anyway. So for now, I will just continue to watch most students fall through the cracks but hope that the work a few great teachers at my school are doing can save enough. Oh yeah, one of my goals for this year is to stay positive so I'm writing this entry with a smile on face to counter balance the negativity in the last paragraph.

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