‘Know your number’

Fri, 02/07/2020 - 3:15pm

The Block Island School is sending out a notice to parents informing them that absenteeism has had and will have a negative impact on how the state ranks the school’s academic performance.

“At the Block Island School, we are under the mandate to encourage and educate parents and students about the importance of school attendance,” the notice, which will be sent out along with the next report card, reads. “If we fail, the Rhode Island Department of Education will give us a lower than expected rating on our school report card. That is just what they have done this year!”

The notice asks that parents be aware of the number of days their child or children are absent from school, with the current number of absences recorded at the top of each report card.

“Knowing your child’s number of days absent is important… Please know it and use it when negotiating absences with your child,” the notice states.

According to the notice, the state does not give any allowance for what is locally called “the Block Island factor.”

“Of course we understand the Block Island factor can and should be considered. Taking an extra day or two for family vacations in the winter, when summers here are so busy, can be a factor. Extended travel can be a valuable and highly educational experience for kids who live on an isolated island. The need to spend an extra night off island, just because the boat schedule is not always accommodating, is totally understandable,” the notice reads. The notice urges parents to consider absences when family vacations are being planned throughout the year.

“The good news is that we are a high performing school for academics! The bad news is that the state’s overall score for the school is the lowest score on any of the five indicators. So, even though we have high achievers who are showing great growth and are graduating on time, our overall rating as a school is still only three stars,” the notice states.

According to the notice, the number of absences RIDE considers “too many… is 16 days absent. However, it is our opinion that 16 days out is still too many. That is more than three school weeks absent.” The average number of absences is four or five days, the notice states, while also pointing out that students miss out on more than just academics when they are not in school. “They miss social interactions, social-emotional skill development, and lessons that cannot be replicated out of school.”