Chronic absenteeism discussed at latest Pelham BOE meeting

Published 3:03 pm Tuesday, October 31, 2023

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By BARTON PERKINS | Staff Writer

PELHAM – The Pelham Board of Education met on Monday, Oct. 30 at a rescheduled meeting to view presentations given by the two elementary school principals and to discuss other business.

Principals Chase Holden of Pelham Oaks and Lisa Baxter of Pelham Ridge presented data to the BOE regarding the academic and attendance rates of Pelham’s elementary students. 

“It’s really just so we can see and understand the schools and to make sure that we’re making a difference,” said Dr. Chuck Ledbetter, superintendent of Pelham City Schools. 

Ledbetter went on to comment that the secondary schools would be reviewed in a similar manner at a later meeting.

Principal Holden was the first to present and gave the board the following stats on Pelham Oaks Elementary:

-41 percent of POES students tested as grade proficient in math from 2022-2023, breaking down to 145 out of 349 students.

-This academic year, 53 percent of students are projected to test on grade level for mathematics.

-61 percent of students test as being grade proficient in ELA skills this academic year, similar to last year’s statistics at Pelham Oaks.

Holden cited chronic absenteeism of students as being a major area for improvement by Pelham Oaks and noted that improving the attendance of students would likely aid in raising the Math and ELA proficiency of the student body.

Principal Holden was followed by his colleague, Principal Baxter of Pelham Ridge, who also presented on current math and ELA scores and noted the issue of chronic absenteeism at her own school.

Baxter presented the following stats on Pelham Ridge to the BOE:

-Last year, 2022-2023, 32 percent of students tested on grade level for math and this year, 70 percent of students tested as being proficient in math.

-Much like Pelham Oaks, Pelham Ridge does have students who classify as being chronically absent. Still, Baxter noted that much of that data originates from flaws in how it was entered into the system.

Members of the BOE congratulated Holden and Baxter on their work to help raise the academic performance of their respective schools but also questioned why chronic absenteeism has become such a problem. 

The COVID-19 pandemic and the nature of parents of this versus previous generations were given as potential answers by different educators in attendance, and the use of reminder emails to parents with chronically absent students was discussed as a possible solution.

Other business discussed included:

-The recent success of PCS’ different volleyball teams

-Students recent participation in a writer’s contest

-the approval of an out-of-state dance trip for a competition by PHS students.