Data Spotlight Award Winner: DCPNI
The DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative (DCPNI) is a comprehensive effort to end intergenerational poverty in the Ward 7 Kenilworth-Parkside community and beyond. Founded in 2008 and operational since 2013, DCPNI brings together neighborhood public and charter schools, community and faith-based organizations, resident leaders, local and federal government agencies, funders, corporations, and more than 30 program and service partners to collaborate in realizing this vision.
THE RAISE DC GOAL
- Every child graduates from high school
DCPNI determined that nearly 36% of students from preschool to 5th grade were chronically absent during the 2012-2013 school year at Neval Thomas Elementary School in Northeast DC. The situation was worse in early grades, where more than 63% of preschool and pre-K students and 46% of kindergarten students were chronically absent, missing 18 or more school days throughout the year.
Chronically absent students in elementary grades are far more likely to establish poor attendance patterns and behaviors that lead to continuing levels of high absences through their academic careers. Additionally, research has found that chronically absent students have lower levels of academic performance when compared to peers who attend school more regularly. Chronically absent elementary school students are also more likely to eventually drop out of high school.
DCPNI worked with Neval Thomas leaders to rethink the way the school looked at data by disaggregating averages of such measures as attendance, truancy, and unexcused absences to identify students who were chronically absent. Together, they designed a three-year program called "Every Day Counts", which focused on decreasing the percentage of chronically absent students at the school for the 2013-2014 school year and beyond.
Every Day Counts uses raw student attendance data and historical attendance records to classify students into three levels—low, moderate, and high risk—and to monitor changes in attendance patterns. In partnership with City Year and East River Family Strengthening Collaborative, this initiative employs distinct interventions for students at each level, ranging from awarding incentives, to conducting outreach to student families, to connecting families and students with services to address underlying barriers to school attendance.
After two years of the Every Day Counts program, the number of chronically absent students in the school decreased 12.2 percentage points. Outcomes are particularly positive in early grades—preschool and pre-K saw a decrease of 20.8 percentage points of chronically absent students. In kindergarten, these rates dropped nearly 12 percentage points, and in 5th grade, they dropped more than 19 percentage points.