Dayton schools seek to solve absenteeism; charters similar to DPS on state tests

52% of DPS students missed at least 10% of school days in 2021-22

Dayton Public Schools is prioritizing raising student attendance rates based on results from the recently released 2021-22 state report cards.

Elizabeth Lolli, the superintendent of Dayton schools, said one of the biggest dings for the district was the chronic absenteeism rate, which is especially high at the district’s high schools. Chronic absenteeism — which Ohio defines as the number of students missing at least 10% of school for any reason — is part of the state’s report card calculation.

Dayton Public’s chronic absenteeism rate was 52% last year, Lolli said, which is close to the 53% chronic absenteeism rate seen in 2020-2021, according to state data.

ExploreChronic absenteeism rising in local schools, across Ohio

“We have to have them here, not just because of the report cards, but also because of the learning they’re missing,” Lolli said.

Lolli said she is celebrating the fact DPS did not appear to slide far from the last time the district got a full report card in 2019. The district would have gotten a two-star rating overall, she said, if the districts were getting overall ratings. That’s like the “D” rating DPS got in 2019.

DPS board President Will Smith said the rating didn’t mean that the district had two-star teachers or students.

“It means we are in a system that is governed by poverty,” Smith said, criticizing the state’s funding model for schools.

According to the Ohio Department of Education’s District Profile Report, DPS ranked third-highest of Ohio’s 606 districts in state funding per pupil in 2021-22.

DPS has already started to push families to keep sending their students to school consistently through social media posts and all-calls to parents.

Lolli said many students told the district through a survey at the end of last school year that they were unable to attend school because their school and work schedule clashed.

ExploreLarge local school districts shine on report card’s growth measure

“They need to work, they have to work, so they have to give up something, either school or work,” Lolli said. “And I think they make that decision based on what their family needs, as well.”

A 2019 survey also found students missed school due to lack of access to washing machines to clean uniforms and lack of transportation. Lolli said the district now has clean uniforms and shoes available at the school and locker rooms available for students to use. She said the district also changed transportation access, although problems with busing efficiency have remained this year.

The district had attendance initiatives last spring in northwest Dayton schools, where if students consistently attended school for a month, they’d be eligible for a $40 gift card. A two-week perfect attendance was eligible for a $25 gift card.

Lolli said that program is no longer available.

ExploreReport card takeaway: Ohio still behind in math, literacy from pre-pandemic levels

Charter school report cards

Dayton’s charter schools tended to score in a similar range to DPS schools on the early literacy and achievement components of the latest round of report cards but did better than DPS overall on progress.

The Dayton Daily News compares local charter schools’ performance to DPS’ performance because many of the charters are within the Dayton school district boundaries.

Student growth is also called “progress” or “value-added” on the report card, measuring how students improved year-over-year on state standardized tests.

DECA and Emerson scored the highest among local charters on the “value-added” component and earned five stars in the progress area. Horizon Science Academy also scored five stars on progress but had a value-added rating less than half of what DECA and Emerson had. Nine charters had negative value-added ratings.

The Dayton charter schools that scored higher than DPS on achievement, which measures the results of state test scores, included DECA, DECA Prep, North Dayton School Of Science & Discovery, Emerson Academy, Pathway School of Discovery and Dayton SMART Elementary School. DECA scored the highest at a three-star rating for achievement.

Dayton Public Schools and the remaining charters scored one star for achievement. Dayton Early College Academy scored the highest among local charter schools in performance index percent on tests, at 77.5. Dayton Public’s highest school was Stivers at 70.2. All other charters and DPS schools were below 66.0.

The Dayton Athletic Vocational Academy scored lowest among local charter schools in both performance index on state tests, and the “effect size” measure of year-over-year progress. Dayton Athletic Vocational Academy scored 34.6 on performance index percent, while DPS’ only school below that was Dunbar, at 29.6.

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