Accounted For

St. Louis Public Schools

You can’t teach kids if they’re not in class. 

With more than 27,000 students heading back to St. Louis Public Schools next week, as well as many of the city's charter and private schools starting classes, officials are reinforcing that point. Because, they say, lost learning time only leads to lost potential.     

(via Flickr/alkruse24)

As summer break winds down, East St. Louis School District 189 is gearing up to begin spending $10.5 million in federal money to kick start academic performance at its two middle schools.   

In the coming days the district will begin the hiring process for 20 new positions to focus on everything from professional development to community engagement. The grant will also pay for an extended school schedule.       

Rhonda Dunham eases her way through the halls at Franklin Elementary School in Cape Girardeau, Mo. Back in the day she was a student at Franklin.

Now she is the principal.

It’s quiet as Dunham strolls through the new, two-year-old facility. Very quiet. Most of the students are in their classrooms, studying away. Dunham slides up next to a pair of students who are taking a test in the hallway to see check their progress.

(via Flickr/frankjuarez)

Educators and politicians in St. Charles say they have a plan in place to reduce the number of chronically absent students in the city’s school district. 

Starting next year, the district will implement a truancy court, a program designed to get families the resources they need to keep students in school as often as possible.

Bill Greenblatt | UPI

The Missouri legislative session’s finale played out this week with members in their usual swivet of last-minute activity and suspense. Watching the action in the closing days is like watching the cap dance at a Cardinals’ game — blink and you lose track of what’s going on.

Jacob McCleland

 

Principal Glenn Carter cracks open the door to an Algebra II class at South Pemiscot High School in rural Steele, Mo., where teacher Linda Crawford shuffles four reluctant students into different configurations. Students chuckle as Crawford gleefully moves her volunteers from place to place. One student, 11th grader Alli Jones, laughs and jots down a few careful notes with the rest of the class.

Last year, Jones probably wouldn’t have been here. She skipped school almost every week.

Remko van Dokkum | Flickr

More and more school districts in St. Louis and across the nation are looking through data for ways to improve student success. In addition, the latest state education standards, MSIP5, place a greater emphasis on tracking the progress of individual students.

Assistant Superintendent for Ferguson-Florissant Farhad Jadali monitors student data for his school district -- and more than 30 other school systems across the state.

Northwest Superintendent Paul Ziegler (left) and dentist Nathan Suter (right) stand in the dental clinic at Valley Middle School
Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

This story is part five of Accounted For, an ongoing project of St. Louis Public Radio that explores the connection between chronic absenteeism -- defined as missing three and a half weeks or more of school -- and classroom success. One reason students miss school or do poorly in class is health.  For more on the academic effects of chronic absenteeism, watch the video at the bottom of the page.    

Adrian Clark | Flickr / Flickr

This story is part four of Accounted For, an ongoing project of St. Louis Public Radio that explores the connection between chronic absenteeism — defined as missing three and a half weeks or more of school — and classroom success. As educators in Missouri  shift their focus from big picture attendance data to individual students, they are looking at how school clinics can help keep kids in school. 

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

This story is part four of Accounted For, an ongoing project of St. Louis Public Radio that explores the connection between chronic absenteeism -- defined as missing three and a half weeks or more of school -- and classroom success.

Melissa Schut drew out a problem on the white board at the front of her sixth-grade math class.  

Like she often does, Schut started with three questions.

“Where are you starting?” Schut asked.  “Where are you going? How are you going to get there?”

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

This story is the third part of Accounted For, an ongoing project of St. Louis Public Radio that explores the connection between chronic absenteeism — defined as missing three and a half weeks or more of school — and classroom success.

Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon roamed the halls of Glasgow Elementary School.  On a recent morning the former minor league baseball player turned educator greets students like players entering a dugout.

More than 108,000 students missed at least three and a half weeks of school last year. That’s enough lost instruction time to be considered chronically absent, defined as missing 10 percent or more of school during the course of the year.

As St. Louis Public Radio reported on Wednesday, chronic absenteeism can set students up for a string of academic problems. 

An empty desk
Bubbles | sxc.hu

No matter how good schools are, you can’t learn if you’re not there. That simple truth — and its far-reaching implications — are the focus of Accounted For, a St. Louis Public Radio special project that began this week.

comedy_nose / Flickr

As part of the St. Louis Public Radio project "Accounted For," chronic student absenteeism was the focus of St. Louis on the Air today. When students miss more than 10 percent of a given year of school, they become chronically absent. Millions of kids across America fall into this category, and it is far too often a predictor of future failure on several levels.

ShuttrKingKT / Flickr

It's a problem that's both obvious and invisible. You can have all the school improvement plans you want, but students can't learn if they're not in class.

With that in mind, St. Louis Public Radio is starting a project that looks at the impact of chronic absenteeism — defined as missing 10 percent or more of a school year for any reason — on learning.  

While the length of school years varies by district,  Missouri law requires a minimum of 174 days. That means a chronically absent student is missing at least three and a half weeks of class time.