Data regarding absenteeism, test scores, free and reduced lunch referrals, behavioral referrals and graduation rates was analyzed for the elementary, middle and high schools in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Overall, the students in Yellow Springs are doing well. The graduation rate is 98.4%. According to City-Data.com, Yellow Springs High School gets a rating of 84, which is 24 points higher than schools in the state of Ohio and 19 points higher than those in Greene County. The students scored above the state average in all their Ohio State Tests.
Some areas that need improvement include an absenteeism rate of 19%. According to the Ohio Department of Education, the 2018 target for chronic absenteeism is less than 13.6%. The percentage of free and reduced lunch is 27.53% . While this is below the average, it is still a potential area of concern as eligibility for free and reduced lunch is based on family earnings and may be indicative of other struggles in the family. Behavioral referrals are more challenging to get accurate data, due to the lack of reporting and/or seeking help.
Since I am not currently working in a school setting, I don’t have direct access to student data. My data was gathered anecdotally and from internet data bases including the Ohio Department of Education, City-Data.com, National Center for Education Statistics, High-Schools.com and SchoolDigger.com. While accurate data may be gathered from the Ohio Department of Education and the National Center for Education Statistics, assisting in gathering the data may allow the person gathering the data to have new insights that could lead to further areas of study.
The data regarding absenteeism is easy to gather. If a student is not at school, he/she is absent. However, determining the reason for the absence requires further investigation. Eaton, Brener and Kann (2008) used data on student absenteeism to “examine the associations of health risk behaviors with being absent from school with and without permission among high school students.” They determined that “school absenteeism…is associated with risk behaviors.” Using the results of this and other studies, school nurses and other school staff can reach out to the chronically absent students and their families to help identify the causes of the absences. If the absences are caused by a health condition, then the school nurse may help them determine the cause of the problem and help them to get the proper treatment for their condition. Early intervention is beneficial to better health and avoidance of potential risky behaviors. The Ohio Department of education has set a “goal of reducing Ohio’s chronic absenteeism percent to 5% by the 2025-2026 school year”. The school nurse can play a vital role in helping students with their chronic conditions and encouraging healthy behaviors, which may help to improve student attendance.
The area of data collection and utilization that could be improved on is that of behavioral referrals. There are many reasons why many of those students who need behavioral health services don’t receive them. Some of these include the stigma associated with mental illness, inadequate insurance for mental health care and families unsure of where to seek help. Once I am working in the school setting, I would like to utilize mental health screenings, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on School Health (2013). Along with the screenings, I would work with other school personnel to help identify those students who may be at risk for or exhibiting signs of depression. I would try to coordinate the collection of data and make sure the school, family and primary care provider are working together for the benefit of the student. This would help identify students who may need mental health referrals and allow for early intervention. School nurses see students daily and often develop trusting relationships with the students. School nurses “are uniquely equipped to assist school and community-based behavioral health professionals in providing services including prevention, assessment, early identification/intervention, and treatment of mental illness and substance use disorders” (National Association of School Nurses, 2018).
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