by James C. Sherlock
I wrote a column the other day that exposed gaping fissures in learning among subgroups of children in Loudoun County Public Schools.
I asked readers to check the SOL data especially at Frederick Douglass Elementary, Leesburg Elementary, Sully Elementary, Sugarland Elementary, Sterling Middle and Park View High.
This article will offer the data for enrollment and chronic absenteeism in those six schools. I will use the same year, 2018-19, that featured the SOL scores in that article.
They are tough cases, but they have to succeed.
First, look at membership in the fall of 2018-19 and chronic absenteeism. All but one had huge increases in chronic absenteeism in the remote learning year of 2020-21. The school system as a whole saw a drop in chronic absenteeism in 2020-21 to 5.1% from 8.4% in 2018-19.
Then look at the enrollment data. It shows that the schools had tough rows to hoe.
Frederick Douglass Elementary: 725 students: Asian 88; Black 93; Hispanic 230; white 254; English learners 255; 114 students with disabilities and 304 economically disadvantaged, 31 of whom were homeless. Chronic Absenteeism 2018-19, 12%; 2020-21 16%.
Leesburg Elementary: 481 students; Asian 20; Black 39; Hispanic 173; white 214; students with disabilities 62; economically disadvantaged 188; English Learners 165; Homeless 17. Chronic Absenteeism 2018-19 7.2%; 2020-21 14.2%
Park View High: 1,390 students. Asian 181; Black 70; Hispanic 901; White 188; Students with disabilities 186; Economically disadvantaged 953; English learners 544; Homeless 129. Chronic Absenteeism 2018-19 22.9%. 2020-21 21.1%
Sterling Middle: 1,038 students. Asian 119; Black 55; Hispanic 699; White 124; students with disabilities 148; economically disadvantaged 764; English learners 598; Homeless 57.
Sully Elementary: 449 Students; Asian 38; Black 14; Hispanic 346; White 40; Students with disabilities 48; Economically disadvantaged 360; English learners 316; Homeless 60. Chronic Absenteeism 2018-19 9.7%; 2020-21 16.6%.
Sugarland Elementary: 592 students; Asian 57; Black 33; Hispanic 428; white 57; students with disabilities 60; English learners 420; Homeless 84. Chronic Absenteeism 2018-19 11.1%; 2020-21 16.9%
The loads of English learners are very high. But Loudoun is going to have to figure out how to make those kids successful. American schools have been teaching English learners for more than two centuries.
First, Loudoun must get a handle on chronic absenteeism by making full use of its legal authority. Loudoun should hire more attendance officers and make full use of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations courts as permitted by Virginia law.
That is one of the biggest keys to the differences in performance between Chesapeake and Loudoun schools. Chesapeake does not stand for chronic absenteeism. They took over 200 parents to court in the last year for which I have data. Word gets around.
Then ask a school system that does far better academically with the same kinds of kids. Chesapeake does, but the winner on that front is well known.
Look at New York State’s report on SUCCESS ACADEMY CHARTER-BRONX 1 ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS ENROLLMENT (2019 – 20) Forty percent of the kindergarten class were English learners.
I reported in my last article on the 99% pass rate in math and the 90% pass rate in English Language Arts on the New York Regents Exams achieved by Success Academy children. Those nearly 18,000 kids are 94% Black and Hispanic.
The Loudoun schools I highlighted are tough cases, but they must be made successful.