Monday, May 30, 2016

What One District's Data Mining Did For Chronic Absence : NPR Ed : NPR

What One District's Data Mining Did For Chronic Absence : NPR Ed : NPR:

What One District's Data Mining Did For Chronic Absence

Mel Atkins grew up in Grand Rapids and worked as a teacher and principal in the western Michigan city. He's now the  executive director of community and students for the Grand Rapids Public Schools.
Mel Atkins grew up in Grand Rapids and worked as a teacher and principal in the western Michigan city. He's now the executive director of community and students for the Grand Rapids Public Schools.
Brittney Lohmiller for NPR

Mel Atkins has spent most of his life with Grand Rapids Public Schools in Michigan. He graduated from Ottawa Hills High, where he played baseball. But his real love was bowling. He says he's bowled 22 perfect games.
He's been a teacher and principal in the city's public schools. And now he works for the district, overseeing just about everything related to students.
One more thing you need to know about him: Mel Atkins is a number-cruncher.
Three years ago, the superintendent came to him with a question: Does Grand Rapids have an issue with chronic absenteeism?
"I don't think I'd even heard of the definition at the time," Atkins recalls. He looked it up.
Chronic absence is defined as a student missing more than 10 percent of the school year — which works out to just two days a month.
Research shows that such students are way more likely to fall behind and, eventually, drop out. In other words, you can't teach kids when they don't show up for school.
Chronic absence is not just skipping school — it's more likely a mix of truancy entangled with illnesses and family problems. And it's a big problem in the U.S.: It's estimated that more than 5 million students a year are chronically absent.
"It was pretty apparent, once we put our data in, that yes, there is a problem," says Atkins.
A big problem. Of 17,000 kids in the district, nearly 7,000 were missing a month or What One District's Data Mining Did For Chronic Absence : NPR Ed : NPR:


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