Chronic Absenteeism Plaguing Some Schuylkill County Schools
Before you go about improving schools, you’ve got to get the students in the door.
And at some Schuylkill County schools, that’s a problem.
Just 1 school in the area, Schuylkill Haven Area High School, achieved the state average for high school attendance in the 2017-18 school year.
That’s according to the Future Ready PA index. Chronic absenteeism is one of the key metrics used to evaluate Pennsylvania’s public schools. The index is one result of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Consolidated State Plan.
The Future Ready PA Index measures schools on different metrics. In addition to proficiency in standard subjects like Science, Mathematics, and English, it also looks at things like absenteeism.
Schools measure “regular attendance” with the following formula:
Students enrolled 60+ school days and present 90+% of school days/
Students enrolled 60+ school days
That means students must attend school 9 out of 10 school days. Quite the liberal policy, really. A student can miss two days of school per month and still be considered a regular attendee.
Apparently, that’s not as easy as it sounds. Pennsylvania schools averaged 85.4% regular attendance. By 2030, the state wants to get schools to 94.1%.
Schuylkill County High School Absenteeism
As we indicated, Schuylkill Haven Area High School is the only one in the county to hit the state average.
Haven scored a flat 87%. That’s the best in the county and a full 21% better than the lowest in Schuylkill County, Pottsville Area. Just 66% of Pottsville Area High School students attend class regularly, according to state data. That means 1 in 3 students there miss more than a day of school every 2 weeks.
Check out how your school ranks in number of students with regular attendance:
- Schuylkill Haven Area, 87%
- Tri-Valley, 85.2
- Williams Valley, 85.1
- North Schuylkill, 84.7
- Tamaqua Area, 83.4
- Blue Mountain, 82.6
- Gillingham Charter, 80.5
- Pine Grove Area, 79.3
- Panther Valley, 77.6
- Shenandoah Valley, 75.1
- Minersville Area, 72.3
- Pottsville Area, 66
Mahanoy Area School District was not measured in attendance for this year.
While Haven is the only school in the area to exceed the state average, others are close. Tri-Valley, Williams Valley, and North Schuylkill each fell within a percentage point of the average. Tamaqua Area and Blue Mountain each post decent scores but still a few points below the state mark.
Absenteeism Trends in Schuylkill County Schools
This doesn’t appear to be a matter of school size. Big and little schools are in the top and bottom halves of this list. As much trouble as Pottsville Area has at getting students to class, North Schuylkill and Blue Mountain doesn’t have the same issue. Pottsville has about 70 more high school students than North Schuylkill and Blue Mountain, which have 900.
It doesn’t look like it’s a socio-economic either. There are cases to be made for more economically stressed districts at the top and bottom of this list, too.