By Ashley Hupfl
ALBANY Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday a campaign that will work to decrease chronic absences for school children.
The "Every Student Present" campaign plans to use data to identify chronically absent students and help find ways to provide support to families by creating better school environments and building public awareness, Cuomo said.
The state Council on Children and Families, which coordinates with 11 state agencies, is spearheading the effort, which will include outreach to schools. The state created a new website with resources on absenteeism: www.everystudentpresent.org.
"Ensuring that our students get a good quality education means making sure they are in the classroom every day," Cuomo said in a statement.
Attendance Works, a national organization, said one in 10 U.S. students miss 10 percent or more of school days a year. Also, as many as four in 10 kindergarten and first-grade students miss about a month of school. Absenteeism create issues with building reading skills and chronically-absent sixth graders are less likely to graduate than their peers, the group said.
Attendance Works found a "fundamental link" between school attendance and student success. They found improvements at school can not yield results unless students are physically there.
"Chronic absenteeism is one of the earliest indications we have that students are not on course," said Deborah Bensen, executive director of the Council on Children and Families, in a statement. "By tracking the number of absences a student has, whether they are excused or unexcused, we can take early action when prevention interventions are most likely to succeed."
This year, New York implemented a new teacher evaluation system and tougher testing for students. New York spends more than $20 billion on schools each year and the most per capita in the nation - $19,076 per student, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
New York high school graduation rates last year remained at 74 percent, the state Education Department reported in June, the same rate as in 2011. But it was significantly lower for minorities, English language learners and students with disabilities.
The problems were pronounced in the state's big cities. Graduation rates in New York City, Yonkers and Syracuse, whose rates are lower than the statewide average, dropped by less than a percentage point from 2011. In Buffalo, the rate dropped by more than seven percentage points, from 54 percent in 2011 to 46.8 percent in 2012. In Rochester, the rates dropped from 45.5 percent in 2011 to 43.4 percent in 2012.
Also, the state found that in Rochester, only 5.8 percent of graduates were college- or career-ready, the lowest of the "Big 5" districts. it was 22.8 percent in Yonkers and 9.7 percent in Buffalo.
For more information visit: www.everystudentpresent.org