Posts Tagged ‘Education Policy’

Chronic Absenteeism:
Why It Matters and How to Fight It

My no-nonsense parents had no patience for illness let alone truancy. School attendance was required; sickness was just another brick-heavy textbook in my backpack. But in the fifth grade, savage bacteria fought for my liberty. I thought I caught the bubonic plague, so I went to the school nurse. Diagnosis: fever, no plague. My mother had to pick me up—nurse’s orders. I was free, even though it only led to soup and sleep.

Bueller?… Bueller?… Bueller?…

My early dismissal wasn’t exactly Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this month. In that film, Bueller skips school, “borrows” a Ferrari, tours Chicago, and outwits every adult. Even adults can recognize the appeal in that scenario. Being absent once in a while is liberating. No big deal, right?

Adding It All Up

As it turns out, absences add up fast. According to a recent U.S. Department of Education (DOE) report, truancy is endemic. Thirteen percent of U.S. students, 1 in 8, are chronically absent, which is defined as missing at least 15 days of school a year. High school students are the worst offenders: nearly 1 in 5 is chronically absent. Minority students also have higher rates of chronic absenteeism.

Why It Matters

Ferris Bueller is a career truant. Does it matter, really? It does, actually. The same DOE report cites studies finding that truancy causes students to fall behind in important areas like reading. Chronic absenteeism also indicates a greater likelihood of dropping out. And consequences may extend into adulthood: truancy and dropping out lead to poorer health outcomes and increased chances of going through the criminal justice system.

What We Can Do

If Ferris Bueller proves anything, it’s that truancy beats economics class. But—other than not sounding like Ben Stein—there are some things educators can do to curb chronic absenteeism.

  • Collect individualized data. Use data to identify which students are chronically absent.
  • Engage students and parents. Awareness matters. Sometimes students and parents simply don’t realize how quickly absences have added up.
  • Dig deeper. Ask a student or parent what’s going on. Some reasons are more serious: illness, family responsibilities, housing troubles, unstable home environments, insufficient transportation, bullying, personal safety concerns, and culture are just a few reasons that lead to absences.
  • Find solutions. More serious problems aren’t easily fixable, but identifying them is the first step toward finding solutions.

Avoiding absences altogether is impossible. Sometimes fifth graders spike fevers. And sometimes the Ferris Bueller’s of the world declare, “How could I possibly be expected to handle school on a day like this?” Too often, though, we dismiss the adverse consequences of truancy, but it’s no joke. Curbing chronic absenteeism now will help students become successful adults. It’s within our power to at least try.

How does your school fight chronic absenteeism?

Share your thoughts with us on Twitter #ProQuest or in the comments below.

The Common Core:
Repealed in Name Only


Forty-two states and the District of Columbia are currently participating in the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSS). Most states quickly adopted the CCSS after they were introduced in 2010. Since then, however, public opinion has turned dramatically against the CCSS. According to the 2015 EdNext Survey, 35% of Americans oppose the CCSS, which is up from 26% in 2014. The same poll found that 50% of teachers oppose the CCSS, up substantially from 40% in 2014. Repealing the adoption of the CCSS is becoming increasingly popular, particularly among politicians. So what does all this mean for testing and standards? Is this the end for the Common Core?

States are quickly withdrawing from multi-state, Common Core-aligned tests. Out of the two federally funded Common Core testing consortia (the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium), PARCC, in particular, has seen a dramatic decline in participation. In 2010, 25 states and the District of Columbia were PARCC members. That number has fallen to seven, with Massachusetts being the most recent state to abandon the test. Massachusetts, like many other states that have dropped PARCC, will create its own test. Standardized testing is here to stay, but the CCSS’s goal of uniform, multi-state tests aimed at providing meaningful comparisons between states looks destined to fail.

Efforts to repeal the CCSS altogether have also gained traction, but a closer look at the replacement standards tells another story. Oklahoma, Indiana, and South Carolina have all repealed the CCSS. Other states have tweaked and even renamed their standards. However, critics argue that many states are simply renaming the CCSS, keeping the majority of standards intact.  South Carolina’s new standards, for instance, are aligned with CCSS 90% of the time. In other words, lawmakers are pivoting away from the politically charged Common Core moniker, but Common Core-aligned standards remain.

The takeaway: the CCSS are being repealed in name only.


Do you and your students want to learn more about the education policy debate?

Check out SIRS Issues Researcher for more information.



5 Things to Know About the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

On December 10, 2015, President Barack Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). According to the New York Times, the sweeping law “will directly affect nearly 50 million students and their 3.4 million teachers in the nation’s 100,000 public schools.” ESSA is a rewrite of the oft-criticized 2001 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which greatly expanded the federal government’s role in public education. ESSA cedes much of the federal control gained under NCLB. Although the 1,061-page ESSA spans a wide range of education policy topics, certain issues like standardized testing and teacher evaluations have gotten the most attention. Here are five important highlights:

What do you think about the newly signed Every Student Succeeds Act?

Share your thoughts with us on Twitter @ProQuest or in the comments below.

Do you and your students want to learn more about the education policy debate?

Check out SIRS Issues Researcher for more information.

Controversial Common Core Testing Begins Nationwide

Turn student anger and frustration over standardized testing into a learning opportunity.

Image by Alberto G. via Flickr Is Licensed Under CC BY 2.0

Image by Alberto G. via Flickr Is Licensed Under CC BY 2.0

Testing Begins

Standardized testing is impacting millions of American students right now. The 2015 Common Core testing season has begun. The Associated Press reports that “about 12 million students in 29 states and the District of Columbia” will be taking the Common Core-aligned exams by the end of the 2015 school year. As standardized testing sweeps across the United States, students are paying close attention to this long contentious Leading Issue.

Rocky Road

Research Topic: Standardized Testing in Education by ProQuest LLC via ProQuest eLibrary

Research Topic: Standardized Testing in Education
by ProQuest LLC via ProQuest eLibrary

Protests. Opt outs. Cyber attacks. The Common Core-aligned, high-stakes assessment testing has gotten off to a rocky start. Last week, students in New Mexico staged walkouts to protest the exams. A growing number of parents and students nationwide are choosing to “opt out.” And school districts in Florida had to postpone testing because of computer glitches, which are being blamed on cyber attacks. Many students have become angry and frustrated.

Learning Opportunity

SIRS Leading Issue: Educational Tests and Measurements by ProQuest LLC via ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher

SIRS Leading Issue: Educational Tests and Measurements
by ProQuest LLC via ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher

Standardized testing demonstrates to students how public policy affects them directly. Why not turn students’ anger and frustration into a learning opportunity? Lead classroom discussions on the pros and cons of standardized testing. Have students defend their arguments in writing. Publish their arguments in the student newspaper or on social media. Encourage them to find ways to affect change democratically. The main objective is to get students involved in this important leading issue.

What do you and your students think about standardized testing? Comment below or Tweet us at #ProQuest.

For more resources, check out SIRS Issues Researcher and eLibrary.

SIRS Leading Issues Promote Global Cultural Literacy

Your students may all want to move to France after reading this article about proposed legislation that would eliminate homework for French primary school pupils!

SIRS Issues Researcher’s Leading Issues allow users to explore global perspectives on scores of diverse topics like Abortion, Education Policy, Elections, Gay Rights, Health Care, Immigration and more. In our rapidly changing and shrinking world, the need for improved global education is increasingly apparent. SIRS Issues Researcher’s editors review and select articles from more than 375 international publications. Access these international viewpoints by selecting the Global Impact icon under Research Tools for each Leading Issue.

The article results list can then be sorted by relevance, date, or lexile score, or users can view the three editorially-selected feature articles at the top of the page…and maybe start planning that move to France.

Au Revoir!