This month is National Attendance Awareness Month. PCSB takes student attendance in school very seriously. It is one of the metrics we measure in our Performance Management Framework, a tool used to rate schools based on student growth, student performance, attendance, reenrollment rate, and other factors.
We encourage charter schools to create attendance policies and strategies that keep students in school. Our evaluation tool, thePerformance Management Framework (PMF), includes “Average Daily Attendance” (ADA) as a metric. This is a measure of all students present or with an excused absent. Ten percent of a school’s overall PMF score is based on attendance.
Beginning next year, the Performance Management Framework will measure in-seat attendance instead of Average Daily Attendance.
What’s the difference?
Average daily attendance counts students who are present, or who have an “excused absence”.
The in-seat attendance rate, on the other hand, only counts students who are in school. Any absence, whether excused or unexcused, is treated the same.
We are switching to in-seat attendance because our review of the data shows that any kind of absence is correlated with lower academic performance. Moreover different schools have different standards for what counts as an excused absence. A school that is strict (perhaps requiring a doctor’s note) will consequently have a lower ADA than a school that is more loose (accepting, perhaps a phone call from a parent.) With in-seat attendance, you only get credit if the child is at school, learning.
The graph below shows our analysis showing the direct correlation with high in-seat attendance rates and DC CAS proficiency. (Each square represents a campus.)
Charter school attendance is rising. Overall in-seat attendance rate has increased from 89% in SY2012 to 91% in SY2013. The schools with the highest in-seat attendance rates were Washington Yu Ying PCS, Hope Community PCS- Tolson and Center City PCS- Petworth, all with an in-seat attendance rate of 96%.
We think the switch from ADA to In-Seat Attendance puts the focus where it should be – whether a child is at school. We will continue to focus on school attendance given its critical relationship with school performance.
Rashida Kelly is the Equity and Fidelity Manager at PCSB.