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house Bill H.R. 4220

Should Federal Education Funds be Used to Combat Chronic Absenteeism in K-12 Schools?

Argument in favor

Chronic absenteeism is a major challenge to students’ learning. Using federal education funds to keep students in class is valid and justifiable, and should yield meaningful returns for both schools and students.

jimK's Opinion
···
11/02/2019
No child should be denied the opportunity to receive an education. If there are community, family or personal issues that keep our youth from taking advantage of educational opportunities, this program seems to pull most of the pertinent factors together to assure that all of our youth have that opportunity- in this case, by addressing those factors most likely to keep them from going to school. I’m not sure about the structure of the program but I certainly endorse it’s intent. Education of our youth is the key to our collective future and the more we can remove impediments to that goal, the better off we all will be.
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Monica's Opinion
···
11/02/2019
There was a similar program in WV that used state education funds to send social workers to homes of children that missed school. The program has successful outcomes. It is worth replication.
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Pamela's Opinion
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11/02/2019
Use the money...but...I think you will find that serious cuts in social programs to help feed and house the poor contributes to absenteeism.
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Argument opposed

Teachers and school administrative staff (such as guidance counselors) should already be working with students and their families to address chronic absenteeism. Creating additional programs to address this issue would strain teachers’ and administrators’ already-tight schedules and impose additional responsibilities outside their primary job responsibilities.

Anita's Opinion
···
11/02/2019
I taught public high school for 20 years, & I’m in the midst of my 17th year of teaching community college. Administrators need to address the absenteeism dilemma by eliminating the system of “excused” absences, & perception of total absences. Unless a student has a chronic illness (which could warrant online classes), 5 absences should be the maximum absences per 9 weeks grading period. The parent or guardian of every student who reaches maximum absences in a grading quarter should be called in for a conference. Failure to appear should be penalized. Such penalties are already on the books, but in 37 years, I have never seen them enforced. K-12, community colleges, & universities are ALL top-heavy with administration. These people need to organize & go to work. Teachers are already pushed to maximum capacity attempting to actually teach the curriculum while addressing all the issues parents & administrators SHOULD handle. The current system of “excused” absences is bleeding into the college & university systems where it does not matter why one is out. An absence is an absence. We cannot teach what we cannot see unless the student is in an online situation.
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B.R.'s Opinion
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11/02/2019
It appears we continue to redeploy the responsibility of the child's issues from the parents to others. Rather than another program, we should better communicate to the parents that help/aide/guidance are available at the school, but the initiation/request for help is their responsibility.
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Bwana's Opinion
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11/02/2019
Remember - "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink." Maybe schools need to look at themselves and discover why students don't want to be there. I've shadowed my kids at our high school. I wouldn't want to be there. The learning environment is disruptive and chaotic. There are kids that are threatening and mean. Liability and regulations prevent teachers and admin from taking meaningful action. Classes are crowded yet school boards insist on spending the small discretionary money they have on "shiny things" instead of more teachers (iPads, Chromebooks, professional grade sports complexes, etc). It is time that tax money was available for alternative schools and vouchers so that public school would have some competition. Maybe that would "up their game."
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What is House Bill H.R. 4220?

This bill — the Chronic Absenteeism Reduction in Every School (CARES) Act — would allow local educational agencies to use specified federal funds for mentoring programs and other activities that address chronically absent students (i.e., students who miss 10% or more of school days). 

Activities that could be funded would include:

  • Implementing data collection systems that help schools collect and track attendance data; 
  • Creating data-sharing and confidentiality agreements between schools, social service agencies, city and county governments, and partner agencies or community organizations working with students; 
  • Establishing partnerships with local health, transportation, and service providers to target intervention efforts;
  • Training and integrating school personnel for mentoring;
  • Carrying out mentoring programs that match students with screened and well-trained adult volunteers for group and one-on-one mentoring relationships;
  • Partnering with community organizations that offer mentoring services that meet certain criteria;
  • Planning and ongoing coordination between mentors and school personnel to identify individual student challenges causing chronic absenteeism in order to connect mentees to appropriate intervention efforts;
  • Cross-age peer mentoring programs under which older students serve as mentors for younger students for the purpose of guiding and supporting the younger student’s academic, social, and emotional development;
  • Identifying issues that lead to school absences;
  • Meeting with students and parents (or guardians) to engage students and improve performance;
  • Arranging for teacher home visits to develop relationships between students, parents (or guardians), and schools;
  • Connecting students to existing school resources and activities;
  • Implementing evidence-based restorative justice strategies aimed at reducing suspensions to keep students in school; or
  • Providing personnel training to build positive school climates and promote social-emotional learning.

Impact

Students; chronic absentee students; schools; schools with chronic absentee students; ESEA funding to schools; and use of ESEA funds to combat chronic absenteeism.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4220

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to combat chronic absenteeism from K-12 schools

“Every child growing up in the United States deserves a quality education, and it’s our job as elected officials to give our kids the resources they need to succeed. But they cannot excel if they aren’t in the classroom in the first place. Chronic absenteeism is a national crisis, and our local educators and policymakers need the necessary tools to track and combat this issue head on. The CARES Act is a much-needed first step to helping put an end to chronic absenteeism and allowing our students to reach their highest potential.”

Original cosponsor Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) adds

“Sadly, Washington state has one of the worst chronic absenteeism rates in the nation, and we must work to eliminate obstacles keeping students in Southwest Washington from making the most of their school years. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan initiative with my colleague Congressman Tim Ryan that empowers schools to tailor solutions that get students to school, and help them stay in school.”

National PTA, the country’s oldest and largest child advocacy organization, supports this bill. Its president, Leslie Boggs, says

“It is essential that students are in school every day and that they receive the support they need to learn, grow and thrive. Our association recognizes that to reduce chronic absenteeism, the issue must be addressed at the local level because of variations in causes. We are pleased to support the Chronic Absenteeism Act and applaud Representatives Ryan and Herrera Beutler for introducing the bill to help combat chronic absenteeism at the school level.” 

This legislation has seven bipartisan cosponsors, including five Democrats and two Republicans. It’s supported by the National PTA, Committee for Children, MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, and the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL).

In the 115th Congress, this legislation had 12 bipartisan cosponsors, including eight Democrats and four Republicans, and didn’t receive a committee vote.


Of NoteChronic absenteeism is defined by experts and a growing number of states as missing 10% of a school year (around 18 days, or about two days a month), whether excused or unexcused. The Dept. of Education found that nearly eight million students were chronically absent in the 2015-2016 school year. This accounted for 15% of the total student population. During the 2015-2016 school year, chronic absenteeism accounted for the loss of more than 100 million school days.

Chronic absenteeism affects school completion rates: students who are chronically absent are 68% less likely than other students to graduate high school. It also affects school performance and proficiency rates, both of which suffer when students are chronically absent. Additionally, schools with higher chronic absenteeism rates have higher discipline rates for students overall.

Healthy Children, a site sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics, reports that at least 10% of kindergarten and first-grade students miss a month or more of the school year. Chronic absenteeism becomes more of a problem in middle school, and peaks as a problem in high school, with about 19% of all high school students being chronically absent. The spike in chronic absenteeism among high school students holds true across all racial groups. By sixth grade, chronic absenteeism becomes a leading indicator that a student will drop out of high school.

Certain conditions, such as ADHD, autism, asthma, type 1 diabetes, and anxiety or depression, contribute to chronic absenteeism. According to a National Health Statistics Report in September 2018, children with ADHD, autism, or developmental delays are twice as likely to be chronically absent compared to children without those conditions. Similarly, children with common chronic illnesses such as asthma and type 1 diabetes miss more school when they’re having more symptoms. Additionally, up to 5% of children have school-related anxiety and may create reasons why they shouldn’t go to school, or outright refuse to attend school.

There are also racial patterns in chronic absenteeism across the country. According to 2015-2016 data compiled by the Dept. of Education, American Indian and Pacific Islander students are over 50% more likely to lose three weeks or more of school, black students are 40% more likely, and Hispanic students are 17% more likely. Only one racial group — Asians — was less likely to miss school as compared to white students.

Regional differences are evident, as well. According to federal data for the 2015-2016 school year, more than one-fifth of students were chronically absent in six states: Alaska, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington. By contrast, only about 10% of students in Vermont and North Dakota were chronically absent.

There are also socioeconomic factors that contribute to chronic absenteeism. Research suggests that poor health, limited transportation, and lack of safety — which can be particularly acute in disadvantaged communities and impoverished areas — are all contributors to chronic absenteeism. 

The Every School Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires the reporting of chronic absence as a required reporting item for school report cards and and as school accountability metric in the states that selected it.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / manonallard)

AKA

Chronic Absenteeism Reduction in Every School (CARES) Act

Official Title

To amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to allow local educational agencies to use Federal funds for programs and activities that address chronic absenteeism.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Education and Labor
    IntroducedAugust 30th, 2019
    No child should be denied the opportunity to receive an education. If there are community, family or personal issues that keep our youth from taking advantage of educational opportunities, this program seems to pull most of the pertinent factors together to assure that all of our youth have that opportunity- in this case, by addressing those factors most likely to keep them from going to school. I’m not sure about the structure of the program but I certainly endorse it’s intent. Education of our youth is the key to our collective future and the more we can remove impediments to that goal, the better off we all will be.
    Like (39)
    Follow
    Share
    I taught public high school for 20 years, & I’m in the midst of my 17th year of teaching community college. Administrators need to address the absenteeism dilemma by eliminating the system of “excused” absences, & perception of total absences. Unless a student has a chronic illness (which could warrant online classes), 5 absences should be the maximum absences per 9 weeks grading period. The parent or guardian of every student who reaches maximum absences in a grading quarter should be called in for a conference. Failure to appear should be penalized. Such penalties are already on the books, but in 37 years, I have never seen them enforced. K-12, community colleges, & universities are ALL top-heavy with administration. These people need to organize & go to work. Teachers are already pushed to maximum capacity attempting to actually teach the curriculum while addressing all the issues parents & administrators SHOULD handle. The current system of “excused” absences is bleeding into the college & university systems where it does not matter why one is out. An absence is an absence. We cannot teach what we cannot see unless the student is in an online situation.
    Like (40)
    Follow
    Share
    There was a similar program in WV that used state education funds to send social workers to homes of children that missed school. The program has successful outcomes. It is worth replication.
    Like (34)
    Follow
    Share
    Use the money...but...I think you will find that serious cuts in social programs to help feed and house the poor contributes to absenteeism.
    Like (16)
    Follow
    Share
    It appears we continue to redeploy the responsibility of the child's issues from the parents to others. Rather than another program, we should better communicate to the parents that help/aide/guidance are available at the school, but the initiation/request for help is their responsibility.
    Like (13)
    Follow
    Share
    Remember - "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink." Maybe schools need to look at themselves and discover why students don't want to be there. I've shadowed my kids at our high school. I wouldn't want to be there. The learning environment is disruptive and chaotic. There are kids that are threatening and mean. Liability and regulations prevent teachers and admin from taking meaningful action. Classes are crowded yet school boards insist on spending the small discretionary money they have on "shiny things" instead of more teachers (iPads, Chromebooks, professional grade sports complexes, etc). It is time that tax money was available for alternative schools and vouchers so that public school would have some competition. Maybe that would "up their game."
    Like (12)
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    Share
    Hold the parents responsible, not the tax payers.
    Like (11)
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    Test scores are dropping under this administration. Betsy DeVoss is breaking the law and refusing to follow court orders by demanding that students pay for loans to predatory profit colleges that help the rich scam decent Americans trying to get ahead . Individual #1 is god to many people so they just ignore it. I’m sure Don could use that money for his racist wall, or pocket it in another one of his scams he’s done all through his cheating life.
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    I agree that Federal dollars should be used to support chronic absenteeism in schools, however, as a former school principal I can tell you that putting all of the responsibility back on educators is an awful idea. I agree with everything in the bill, however, where it falls short is in the resource portion. For example, I had an inner-city, “at-risk” elementary school in Las Vegas...a very transient city. I had anywhere from 800-over 1000 children PreK-5th grade. I never had a full-time counselor...ever! The last year I worked, I had no counselor. The problem is that we do not have the manpower in our front office, counseling departments, truancy offices, the hours for teachers & administration, nor the state to state communication to be effective in combating chronic absenteeism.
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    No we keep throwing more money at education and it keeps getting worse. Get the federal government out and let the states manage their own schools.
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    For several decades, the bureaucrats who have been setting policy for our public school system have failed miserably and a generation is paying that price. The problem isn’t money, as more money pours in, results do not follow. It’s time to gut the Department of Education of these entrenched intransigent bureaucrats, end the horrid teacher’s union and start over. It’s for the children and the future of our nation.
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    lol... seriously? No one is currently even taking attendance. You have got to be kidding me. Yes, chronic absenteeism is an issue. Yes, funds need to be allocated to address chronic absenteeism But, right now...this isn’t even putting the cart before the horse... This is putting the damn cart on the interstate. https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/virus-forced-schools-online-students-follow-70205874 https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/03/12/absenteeism-driven-by-virus-could-trip-up.html https://www.future-ed.org/chronic-absenteeism-in-the-time-of-coronavirus/ https://www.attendanceworks.org/coronavirus-resources-for-educators/ https://www.educationdive.com/news/present-and-accounted-for-closures-create-attendance-challenges/574412/ https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brown-center-chalkboard/2020/05/27/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-student-achievement-and-what-it-may-mean-for-educators/ Please for the sake of future COVID related policy... policy makers really need to read: Staying Grounded: 12 Principles For Transforming School Leader Effectiveness Paperback – April 22, 2020 by Dr. Michael J. Hynes (Author) From The Author Our children and adults within our schools need you to be at your absolute best. An educator who is constantly working toward “Staying Grounded” will be someone who is a strategic leader who leads within and amongst the levels of self, others, and the organization they serve. Leadership of self includes the responsibility of being self-aware and proactive in developing personal strengths. This is what the 12 Principles will provide for you if you have what it takes. I know you do! I’ve heard that leadership is never about wielding one’s authority, it’s about empowering people. This book is meant to take that concept many steps further. For years my wife Erin has asked me when I would write a book about my views about the future of our education system and school leadership. The two are inextricably linked together. I hope this book will provide you with everything you will ever need to make that come true for the child(ren) or school(s) you have the privilege of serving. My work as a superintendent of schools, Fulbright specialist, TEDx speaker and associate professor of education has allowed me to acquire some insightful viewpoints into our education system and the people who work within it. I've been fortunate to work with children beginning in Pre-K through teaching educators and administrators working toward their doctorates in education. In many cases, their education spans thirty plus years. ————— If nothing else hire Dr. Hynes as a consultant, he is on LinkedIn and I have found him to be a sincere, caring individual who genuinely puts the needs of students 1st. ———————- Editorial Review: Michael Hynes is one of America’s most respected educators. A celebrated teacher and visionary superintendent, he is driven by a deep conviction that education must address the whole child – mind, body and spirit – and that leaders and administrators have crucial roles on making sure it does. He knows exactly how taxing those roles can be and that, whatever the pressures, they have to be guided by humane principles and compassionate practice. Staying Grounded is a trove of ethical and practical wisdom for managing the system as it is and for leading the changes that are needed for all our children to flourish as they must." Sir Ken Robinson, Educator and New York Times Best Selling Author
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    If a child is missing that much school without a serious illness ( ex. Leukemia) then the parent should be required to undergo a background check and, upon passing it, to attend school with the student until attendance improves. Schools get stuck fixing this problem but parents should be the main ones fixing this.
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    Keep them in school. They may not know it, but it’s their only hope
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    Chronic absenteeism is usually due to poverty, alcoholism or another addiction, homelessness, among others. Yes, federal money should absolutely be used to help our children learn, but it shouldn’t come out of teacher’s pockets. They already pay more than they should to educate our youth, and don’t get paid nearly enough to do it.
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    Personal responsibility and parental responsibility! Put Biblical principles back in school!
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    Teachers are trained to teach. They are not trained social workers, medical professionals nor law enforcement. They also don’t have the schedule flexibility needed to do home visits. For example, if a parent works nights and needs the visit in the mornings, a teacher can’t go because they’re teaching. Please remove the clause about teachers doing the home visits and I’m all for this bill.
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    The federal funds, like SNAP and other programs are being cut by Trump. Those programs help k-12 schools, which help keep kid in school. Some kid, this is the only meal they get a day! After school activity need support not cuts. Drugs are part of the program with the parents, children grow up in this mess. Sometimes the children are more of an adult.
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    There is obviously a problem and this bill MAY be a means to address it in various ways. What I find lacking in the bill and which should be a requirement, is to identify existing programs that HAVE worked and to emulate them first before embarking on the hypothetical ones. After trying to emulate current programs, then and only then, carefully select untried measures rather utilize a shotgun approach.
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    If kids don't feel safe and engaged at school then they won't go. This would help with that.
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