January 20, 2016—Later tonight, the Cohoes City School District Board of Education is expected to adopt a resolution requesting the New York State Legislature consider a local option law that would lower the mandatory age of attendance in school from six to five years-old.
The request comes after a recent attendance data analysis completed by district administration revealed kindergarten chronic absenteeism rates were alarmingly high, at 27.4 percent, in the 2014-15 school year.
“More than a quarter of our students missing school regularly at a young age is a problem,” said Superintendent Jennifer Spring, Ed.D. “We know that regular attendance in kindergarten sets a solid foundation for academic success. We need to stop the patterns of chronic absenteeism that begin in kindergarten and this law is going to help us do that.”
Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10 percent—18 or more days—of school each year. In Cohoes, 51 kindergartners missed at least 18 days of school in 2014-15. Of those, 15 missed 31 or more days.
According to national research, kindergarten students who are chronically absent have a 61 percent chance of being held back for reading below grade level in third grade.
“Good attendance matters,” said Board of Education President Vincent Baran. “We want all of our students attending school as much as possible to ensure that they receive every opportunity to grow and be successful throughout their academic careers.”
In Cohoes, where kindergarten is a full-day program, the local option law would allow school personnel to intervene sooner to reduce the likelihood of chronic absenteeism. Actions could include a home visit by the school social worker or truancy officer, or contacting Child Protective Services (CPS).
“We are serious about addressing this issue in Cohoes,” said Spring. “Attending school regularly will have a significant impact on closing the achievement gap for our most at-risk students.”
“Working together with parents, members of the community and local elected officials, we can ensure all Cohoes children are positioned for success,” she added.
If approved by the legislature, Cohoes would
join Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica and New York City school
districts in requiring all children within the city limits to attend
and complete kindergarten as a part of their primary school