How High-Crime Neighborhoods Make It Harder For Kids To Show Up At School (


A new study suggests living in a high-crime area, or simply passing through one on the way to school, can impact how often students show up to class.

She and her team looked at how neighborhood crime in Baltimore affects attendance. The vast majority of students there use public transportation (like many urban school systems, Baltimore City Public Schools don't bus students). Researchers mapped the routes high school freshmen took to and from school — what streets they were walking on, when and where they picked up a bus, when they transferred, etc. Then, researchers applied crime data by location and time of day to see how those findings related to student absences for the year.

They discovered "kids who are supposed to be walking along streets with higher rates of violent crime are more likely to miss school," Burdick-Will explains.

The Baltimore school district struggles with getting kids to show up: 37 percent of students were chronically absent last school year, meaning they missed at least 10 percent of school. Research shows students who miss that much school are way more likely to fall behind and eventually drop out.

External factors, like neighborhood crime, are important, explains Hedy Chang, the executive director of Attendance Works. But, she says, schools still need to be looking inward.

"If we make schools better — safer — more inclusive and trauma-informed, students will want to be there."

To read more of Elissa Nadworny's article, please click here.

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Many states hold schools directly accountable for chronic student absenteeism in terms of funding and or state accreditation points. While I applaud the many innovative practices and measures schools employ, our schools cannot become the 'village' without community support. Those in the trenches know this is more than knocking on doors and waking up kids. For many, it is finding a home, employment, basic needs, etc., for the families. This article is yet another reason why we need to question the metric at the state policy-level that is used to grade some of our most vulnerable schools.