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School board discussion identifies chronic absenteeism as item of concern

Chad Schroeder offers a comment on the presentation to the board of education on Monday, Jan. 8. (Photo by Jacob Sturm)

By Jacob Sturm
news@mustangpaper.com

Members of the Mustang school board were provided an update on Jan. 8 regarding the
academic work going on in each grade level in the Mustang Public Schools sites.

Stacy Edwards, the Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education, started off a
presentation that each of the school board members had access to alongside the public in
attendance. Edwards explained the way students are scored in state testing, (below basic,
basic, proficient, advanced) with 2023 being the first time the district has been given credit for
students scoring in the basic range.

Each range is used to demonstrate a different level of mastery of the standards set.
Later in the presentation, which was split so multiple presenters could elaborate on individual
parts of the presentation, the slides showed Mustang’s ELA scores as being higher than the
state average.

Data was also provided for math scores at each grade level between 3-8 and 11 as well.
Eventually, the presentation arrived at the noticeable issue in Mustang Public Schools:
attendance. According to the data presented, only 74.2% of the students in the school system
are in good attendance. That means students are counted as present 90% or more of the
instructional days in the school year.

Mustang has 165 days in the school year calendar where class is happening. Those students
absent 17 days or more would be counted as chronically absent. This area is the only area MPS
is below state average, with the numbers presented in the discussion showing the number
(74.2%) is better than merely 6% of the schools in the state.

Data broke down the grade levels MPS is struggling the most, with kindergarten and 12 th grade
being the biggest issues.

Ryan McKinney, the Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education, readdressed chronic
absenteeism within the district as an area of focus.

“The more we can get kids in class, the better they are going to do in class,” McKinney said. “So,
we are supporting sites and monitoring attendance and providing the reports on where their
attendance is.”

He also said the district will be looking at current policies in place to see if there is something to
recommend to the board for adjustment to address the attendance issues as well.

“Chronic absenteeism is one of our biggest things that we’ve got to do,” McKinney said. “That’s
10 points of that overall report card. We’ve got to figure out a way to get kids at school. We’ve
got 23% of our kids in a grade level that are missing more than 10% of the time. That’s a
problem.”

School board members also asked the presenters what they will do as a result of the low
attendance in comparison to other districts. McKinney assured them that MPS is looking at the
schools succeeding in the chronic absenteeism category compared to the rest and is learning
how they have been successful.

Similar attendance issues did not happen in Mustang Public Schools before the COVID
pandemic. McKinney also mentioned the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office provides two officers,
which Mustang has fully utilized.

Policy assessments will be done as soon as the district can, with the school board members
likely to hear back from the district superintendents at a future board meeting to address the
issue.

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