On the Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science, the largest drivers of nice attendance charges are pupil engagement in addition to monitoring and follow-up with college students, in accordance with Michael Barney, the director of the Worcester-based faculty.
That helped the academy obtain the best attendance fee of Okay-12 public colleges in Massachusetts in the course of the 2020-2021 faculty 12 months, in accordance with state knowledge, coming in simply shy of 100% even because the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted training.
“The scholar engagement may be very excessive, so it’s a really collaborative surroundings right here, very project-based, so college students don’t ever need to miss a day,” stated Barney. “They’re studying a lot from their interactions with one another, in addition to from the school, that it’s a very partaking surroundings.”
The academy is a two-year public highschool that serves about 100 junior and senior 12 months college students with a deal with math and science. Whereas juniors be taught in lecture rooms on the academy, seniors take lessons at Worcester Polytechnic Institute to arrange for school earlier than highschool commencement.
College students attend from about 35 faculty districts, from Lexington and Westminster to Franklin and Holliston.
To date for the 2020-2021 faculty 12 months, the academy has an total attendance fee of 99.6%, in accordance with knowledge from the state Division of Elementary and Secondary Training. The typical variety of absences is 0.5, the speed of scholars absent 10 or extra days is 2%, as is the p.c of scholars marked chronically absent.
The academy often has a excessive attendance fee, Barney stated. Information signifies roughly the identical numbers, with some small enhancements, in the course of the pandemic. For the 2019-2020 12 months, total attendance was 99.4%, the common variety of absences was 0.8, simply 1% of scholars have been absent 10 or extra days and none have been chronically absent.
DESE defines attendance fee as the common proportion of days in attendance in school for college kids enrolled in grades pre-Okay to grade 12 when enrolled for a minimum of 20 days for the varsity 12 months.
A typical Massachusetts pupil misses 9 days of faculty, or 5%, every year, in accordance with DESE.
College students are thought of chronically absent in the event that they miss 10% or extra of their whole days enrolled in a college. With 180 faculty days in a typical faculty 12 months, a pupil could be counted as chronically absent after lacking 18 days, no matter whether or not the absences are thought of excused, unexcused or for disciplinary causes.
For the present faculty 12 months, the state’s total attendance fee is 94%, knowledge signifies. The typical variety of absences was 6. The speed of scholars absent 10 or extra days was 17.2%, whereas the speed of scholars chronically absent was 17%.
Within the fall, the academy began hybrid for a couple of weeks after which switched a distant mannequin, Barney stated. After they have been capable of enroll within the state’s pooled COVID-19 testing program in March, college students went again to hybrid studying. Finally, full-time in-person education resumed in step with the state’s necessities.
Due to the pandemic, the academy developed a sign-in course of that additionally labored as a COVID symptom tracker.
“College students signed in each morning between 7 and seven:45,” Barney stated. “After which academics, they have been zooming from each block, after we have been distant, they have been engaged each block of the day so if a pupil was not at school for no matter cause, we’d textual content them to make it possible for they have been re-engaged instantly or we’d name their mother and father to see if there was one thing amiss. 99% of the time, they’d be proper again on the decision inside a minute.”
That was the case for junior college students. Seniors have been capable of be in-person on campus the entire faculty 12 months, Barney stated, and will participate in WPI’s testing protocol twice per week.
The academy didn’t battle with a few of the challenges different districts confronted in the course of the pandemic. Distant studying put a highlight on the variety of Massachusetts youngsters who didn’t have entry to laptops or an web connection, a problem that existed earlier than the coronavirus unfold. In Worcester, the place the academy is positioned, 18% of households had no web entry, a report released last summer discovered.
Barney stated college students enrolled had the means to get on-line for distant instruction. There have been occasional connectivity points, Barney stated, however these issues by no means brought about a pupil to overlook a complete day.
“We all know that we’re lucky,” he stated. “We all know that there are some districts that each one college students don’t have gadgets, all college students aren’t linked, all college students don’t have sizzling spots.”
For different districts, new insurance policies added in an try to assist with the transition to on-line studying didn’t work out. At Hampshire Regional Excessive Faculty, a change within the tardy coverage led to a big spike within the variety of students marked chronically absent.
For the academy, there have been even some advantages of distant studying, notably as a result of the programs are so collaborative.
“It was pedagogically simpler to carry our lessons through Groups and Zoom than it was to do in-person studying distanced with masks,” Barney stated. “It’s powerful whenever you’re attempting to collaborate on a undertaking and you’ll’t hear any person, whenever you attempt to work on a bunch undertaking with 4 folks and sitting 6 ft aside with a masks, you may’t hear folks. It’s troublesome to speak.”
For the following faculty 12 months, the state is requiring districts to make use of in-person studying as the first faculty mannequin and is lifting COVID-19 health and safety restrictions.
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