University of Chicago Consortium discovers that young children who are absent a lot are -- absent a lot and don't do well in school... Local right-wing think tank continues to ignore the perils of poverty and class oppression in Chicago's schools
For the opening of school, the University of Chicago has done it again: A major and expensive study proclaims the obvious while ignoring the viciousness of class society and its impact on the youngest children during the pre-school and kindergarten years. When the brutal realities of segregation and poverty in Chicago are reduced to "data", a lot of serious nonsense continues to be spread around. And the reductio ad absurdum from the U of C is particularly loathsome because the "researchers" who do the work there can walk a mile to their south or west and see in the faces and lives of real children the work that capitalist exploitation and segregation have done to the families living in poor and working class communities in 2013. It takes a great many dollars and a lot of hypocritical energy to reduce an obvious problem to a series of almost mindless babblings in professorspeak.
But in September 2013, they're back.
It's not the first time that a "study" coming out of the people down on the "Midway" have breathlessly belabored the obvious, while missing the reality that sprawls in all directions a few miles from where they sit.
For several years, the University of Chicago's "Consortium on Chicago School Research" has spent millions of dollars proclaiming the obvious while ignoring the underlying causes of the troubles of working class and poor people in Chicago. Often, the work of the Consortium has become an excuse for the perpetuation of the status quo in failed corporate education "reform" policies, while the vapid, anti-union meanderings of the University's Timothy Knowles are regularly quoted in the news columns of the city's dwindling number of news outlets.
The most notorious of these studies came about seven years ago, when the University discovered that a large number (their numbers were wrong because their study design was seriously flawed) never finished college. But in that study, the University of Chicago ignored the cost of college as a possible reason why poor and working class people can't complete college -- at least in four or five years. Coming from a university where an undergraduate education costs between $200,000 and a quarter million dollars, that finding was typical. Why: Because the implication was that the reason working class and poor children from Chicago's schools couldn't finish college was that they were not made "college and career ready" by the public schools they had attended.
That study is repeatedly cited as if it were more than another example of theology -- the repetition of belief -- pushed out into the public domain as "science."
As school opens in Chicago in 2013, we have another "study". This one shows that many poor children don't get to "early childhood" education, and that those who miss a lot of school often have trouble later in school. Once again, the most prestigious university in Chicago leaves out the obvious issues of race and economic class, acting as if the ability to get to school were something that every family had equally in Chicago.
Here is the summary of the latest:
From: Consortium on Chicago School Research Date: Tue, Sep 3, 2013 at 2:30 PM
Subject: New UChicago CCSR executive summary: Absences add up for youngest learners in Chicago
New UChicago CCSR executive summary:
Absences add up for youngest learners in Chicago
Coinciding with Attendance Awareness Month nationwide, the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research (UChicago CCSR) released today a new executive summary, highlighting the critical importance of consistent preschool attendance. Students who attend preschool regularly are significantly more likely than chronically absent preschoolers to be ready for kindergarten and to attend school regularly in later grades, the report finds.
“The significance of this research extends well beyond Chicago. People tend to think of attendance as a middle and high school problem, but this study demonstrates conclusively that attendance matters as early as pre-kindergarten,” said Hedy Chang, director of Attendance Works, a national initiative to promote better policy and practice around attendance. “We keep talking about the value of early education, but it’s only valuable if children show up regularly so they get the most out of the enriched learning experience.”
The study, which follows 25,000 three- and four-year-olds served by Chicago Public Schools (CPS) school-based preschool programs, finds that chronic absenteeism is rampant among preschoolers in Chicago. In 2011-2012, almost half of three-year-olds and more than one-third of four-year-olds were chronically absent, meaning they missed at least 10 percent of the school year. These patterns are particularly problematic for students who start school with the weakest skills. Those children are the most likely to benefit from regular preschool attendance but also the most likely to be chronically absent.
Key findings from the report include:
The more days of preschool a student misses at age four, the lower she scores on CPS’s kindergarten readiness evaluation, even when controlling for incoming skills. Moreover, students who are chronically absent for multiple years have reading performance levels at the end of second grade that are, on average, considered “at-risk” and in need of some level of intervention.
Students who are chronically absent in preschool are five times more likely to be chronically absent in second grade. Chronic absenteeism in preschool establishes a pattern of inconsistent attendance that is often repeated in later grades. One-third of chronically absent four-year-olds go on to be chronically absent in kindergarten, compared with just 6 percent of students who were not chronically absent from preschool.
African American children are almost twice as likely to be chronically absent as other students.
Chronic absenteeism is also higher among students who live in high-poverty neighborhoods; however, even after taking into account neighborhood poverty, African American students are still much more likely to be chronically absent than students of any other race/ethnicity. African American students are absent more frequently because they are sick more often and because they face more logistical obstacles to getting to school.
Sickness is the number one factor driving preschool absences. Logistical obstacles affecting families are the second largest factor. More than half of all preschool absences are due to children being sick. Another 18 percent are due to a range of logistical obstacles facing families, including transportation and childcare issues
Most parents with children enrolled in preschool believe attendance is important; however, those who believe that regular preschool attendance is as important as attendance in later grades have children with significantly better attendance.
“These findings are challenging because chronic absenteeism is so prevalent and the reasons preschoolers miss school are so diverse,” said report co-author Stacy Ehrlich. “However, there is also a clear opportunity to engage families and communities by addressing the issues that contribute to chronic absenteeism in preschool. Improving preschool attendance will require a student-by-student, family-by-family, school-by-school approach.”
[This report is the result of a collaboration between the UChicago CCSR and the Office of Early Childhood Education at Chicago Public Schools. It was generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.]
Go to our website to access a copy of the full executive summary and technical appendix.
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