Chronic Absenteeism | KCUR

Chronic Absenteeism

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Chronically absent students are more likely to come to school if treated with compassion than threatened with truancy.

That’s what a national expert on attendance policy said Monday at an absenteeism summit for educators convened by the United Way of Greater Kansas City.

Barbara Shelly / KCUR 89.3

Ingels Elementary School in the Hickman Mills district marked the days before the holiday break with a concert, a chance to spray the principal with silly string and enough cookies and candy canes to vault children into the new year on a sugar high.

Like teachers everywhere, the faculty was visibly relieved as the closing bell drew near. But this group may need the break more than their peers in some other schools.  As the principal, Sabrina Winfrey, told parents at the start of the concert, featuring 3rd and 4th graders, “this year has been a bit different.”

Courtesy Hickman Mills School District

School district performance reports matter. They can affect accreditation status, real estate dynamics -- even whether students get to go on field trips.

“We are in an era of testing,” Sabrina Winfrey, the principal of Ingels Elementary School, told a group of parents at her school in the Hickman Mills School District recently. “I would love for your kids to go on more field trips, but right now they need to be in this building learning to read.”

Barb Shelly / KCUR 89.3

Aubrey Paine is a 2nd grade teacher, the mother of a 1-year-old girl, a Kansas City Chiefs fan and a technology buff. So it isn’t as if she needs more excitement in her life. But lately she’s taken to looking at her class roster every night, just to see what the morning might bring.

“We have all these new kids. I never know what to expect,” she told me on a recent Tuesday afternoon. The newest student had joined the class just that day. You couldn’t miss him: the shaggy-haired boy in soccer shorts, an athletic shirt and eyes that darted between eager and guarded.

Courtesy of Hollis Officer

Do you remember the man who took your tickets at the Tivoli for 17 years? With a recent photo display and theater dedication at the Tivoli, we reflect on the late Bob Smith, an international male model in his prime, who spent the end of his life in Kansas City.

But first, a check-in with the superintendent and a teacher in the Hickman Mills School District, as a part of KCUR's ongoing coverage of the district.

Guests:

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

Students in the Hickman Mills School District face a lot of challenges, including poverty and a provisionally accredited district, as well as a high rate of mobility: 75 percent of students typically change classrooms, schools or districts within the course of one year.

Barbara Shelly / KCUR 89.3

At Ingels Elementary School in the Hickman Mills School District, children are lining up outside of their classrooms for the start of the school day. They know the drill; faces front, hands at sides, no talking. It’s the morning after Labor Day, and most of these students have been in classes for two weeks.

 

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Kansas City Mayor Sly James announced a new program Monday aimed at getting kids to go to school.

A recently released report from the nonprofit Attendance Works says 20 percent of American students are chronically absent from school. The organization calls it a national challenge.

The Missouri superintendents from Kansas City, Center and Hickman Mills all say chronic absenteeism is about the same in their districts.