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Truancy Creep: How Kinvolved’s Community Manager is Helping Schools Increase Attendance

By Tips and Resources

By Miranda Meyerson, Community Manager, Kinvolved

students-377789_1280While listening to NPR a few weeks ago, a story came on that was written and produced by high school students at WNYC Radio Rookies. The fact that the story was produced by students was remarkable, and being a teacher I couldn’t help but turn it up.

This episode was aptly titled Nine People, One Bedroom. The very apparent theme was that for one reason or another, the articulate and intelligent teenaged boy featured in the story kept missing school. His attendance at school became his last priority.

This begs the questions: Why? And where are this boy’s parents? His mother said that she did not see herself as his champion in school. Rather, her job was to make sure he was housed and fed and loved. And sometimes, he needed to help her also provide these basic needs for his younger siblings. In retrospect, she says she should have emphasized school. But, his mother was undoubtedly loving, and she was doing what she felt was right.

The dilemma presents itself:  if we assume most parents are doing what they think is best for their children, but some parents don’t understand the value of attendance, or feel there families have more immediate needs than to be educated, what can we do?

We at Kinvolved want to help educate parents and keep them informed. Our mission is to, through direct, real-time communication with families, address some of the fair, but counterproductive, actions of parents. We hope to make parents our partners in ensuring daily student attendance to school.

We are not solving poverty, childcare challenges, or overcrowding. But we are bridging a gap in knowledge through action.

This semester at Kinvolved, we are helping to bridge the school–family gap in three ways:

  1. Meet the parents: We are attending PTA meetings and other events that invite parents to school to let them know about Kinvolved. When parents know they should be expecting texts and emails from their children’s teachers, they can know they are invited to be “in the loop.” They can speak up when they are not receiving sufficient information.
  2. Share basic information: We are lessening teachers’ workloads by sending them informative texts to simply cut and paste, then send to families.
  3. Strategize necessary interventions: Our Community Manager at Kinvolved is providing school with implementable strategies to decrease absenteeism and increase punctuality.

Miranda Meyerson joins Kinvolved as our Community Manager. Miranda is a former educator with 12 years of experience in the classroom. She recently supported Kaplan TechStars, and also works with other education technology companies in New York City.

Perspectives of a high school student in New York City: Maria’s summer internship at Kinvolved

By Tips and Resources

In my Junior year at the Academy of Finance and Enterprise, I decided to enter the PENCIL Fellows Program, in which high school students in New York City get placed as summer interns in local businesses. To get into PENCIL, I had to work hard by attending events, going to interviews, and writing an essay that would convince PENCIL that I was capable of working hard this summer. Through PENCIL, I was placed at Kinvolved, which is an education technology startup that has created an application to help teachers take attendance and increase communication with parents.

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When I started working with Kinvolved, I was assigned to do a project to learn more about what students think of school. So, I created a survey and sent it to high school students in New York City via email, Facebook, and Twitter. As a result, I got more than 90 survey responses, and some of the students that answered wanted to be featured in my interview. Later on I invited them over to Kinvolved’s office for an interview so I could make a short documentary on Kinvolved and on the students’ opinions on attendance.

The results of my survey were very interesting. Most students know the importance of being in school, but what prevents them from attending more frequently are family-related issues. Perhaps the student does not have good communication with their parent or guardian. This is a struggle for them because everyone needs someone to be there for them, and if not they could end up going down the wrong path in life because they believe that no one cares about how they do in school. The truth is that they do care, but sometimes the parents or guardian do not know how to communicate with or help their child and their teachers fix their problems.

According to the survey, 70% of kids are late to school, which is a very large problem that needs to be solved. Another important thing that came up in the survey was the lack of communication between teachers and parents. While these are big problems, it great to know that Kinvolved offers an app and support to help solve them.

 

Below are the charts showing the statistics:

70% of student reported they were late to school.

48% of students reported their teachers shared positive things with the students’ parent(s).

65% of students reported their teachers shared negative things with the student’s parent(s).

 

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As a high school student, it was a great experience for me to understand the experience of working in an office. At Kinvolved, I met a group of wonderful people that is working hard to develop an application that will help the community. They taught me to work in a group by calling team meetings and discussing the problems in the workplace and giving solutions to those problems. Kinvolved, also, taught me how to use many computer programs such as Excel, Powerpoint, iMovie, and so much more.

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Maria is seen here with the summer team!

On top of learning about the work environment, I learned more about public schools in NYC. I wasn’t aware of how much attendance means. I was aware that attendance is important, but I didn’t know how much students are absent each year and how that absence can affect them in the long run. Kinvolved is really going to help make a difference with attendance by helping parents and teachers communicate with each other to help solve the problem. Now more students will be attending school for the better. In conclusion, I couldn’t have asked for a better place to intern in because they taught me the values of work and the importance of school.

 

You can view Maria’s video, in which she interviewed students from across NYC here: https://vimeo.com/105197086

About Maria: Maria Armijos is a high school senior at the High School for Finance and Enterprise in Long Island City, NY. Maria interned with Kinvolved as PENCIL Fellow this summer. She helped us learn more from the students we serve, and gave us an inside perspective on what it is like to be a junior or senior in school, with big goals and ambitions. Learn what students think about school, their mentors, and what their teachers would describe them in one word. Thank you, Maria, for your hard work!

© 2019 Kinvolved™. All Rights Reserved, Kinvolved Inc.

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