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How we’re increasing our impact in the year ahead

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A message from Kinvolved’s founders:

With an investment from Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, and with pilots launching in new states, Kinvolved is well-positioned to have tremendous impact in 2018.

In 2012 we founded Kinvolved with a singular vision: to increase student achievement by improving attendance and eliminating chronic absenteeism. Our holistic approach leveraged technology tools and human interventions to change deep-rooted behaviors and neutralize the external factors that lead to student disengagement—including poverty, racism, and socio-economic exclusion.

Why? Because chronic absence is a problem begging for a solution.

New federal legislation, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), has prompted more than

37

Student attendance is the leading indicator of high school graduation: less than

20

By the time they
reach third grade,
only

17

of children who were chronically absent in earlier grades will read on grade level, compared with 64% of their peers who regularly attended class.

Chronic absence is also an issue of equity. Half the nation’s chronically absent students are concentrated in just 4% of the nation’s school districts, disproportionately affecting communities with the highest rates of unemployment, violence, inadequate housing, and intergenerational poverty. These are devastating numbers.

To find a path out of poverty and toward lifelong success, kids need to show up for school; our job is to show up for kids.

KiNVO, our attendance management software, launched in 2013 as a pilot with a small group of NYC public schools. We have since expanded our reach to 130+ NYC schools—serving more than 200,000 students, families, educators, and administrators—and we’ve launched a partnerships in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and communities in Kentucky, New Jersey, Connecticut, and South Dakota. In 2017, we also introduced Teacher and Leader Coaching, and Community Summits.

With hundreds of thousands of users, we’ve been able to gauge our impact:

  • Our partner schools see a 13x boost in attendance compared with other schools.
  • Kinvolved schools see stronger declines in chronic absence over the average school.

These results reinforce our commitment to the work, and we are excited to announce a new partner that will help us realize our vision: The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation (DRK) has invested in Kinvolved as part of its social impact work, and Stephanie Khurana, a DRK Managing Director, has joined Kinvolved’s board of directors as a strategic partner.

Stephanie brings to Kinolved’s board her expertise as a deeply involved investor and advisor to other organizations, many of which work to make an impact on education in high-risk communities.   

Kinvolved’s founders have demonstrated impressive traction with a solution that is simple enough for communities to implement, and which tackles chronic absenteeism in its early stages—a critical component to increasing graduation rates, employability, and other key societal benefits.

- Stephanie KhuranaManaging Director, DRK

There are countless ways for our nation, states, and communities to think about education reform—the first step is to ensure children are present and prepared to receive the education they deserve. With the help of district, neighborhood, government, and funding partners, we are catalyzing communities to get more kids to school.

Thank you for your continued support.

Announcing Kinvolved’s new partnership with Sioux Falls School District

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We are thrilled to announce that Kinvolved has partnered with Sioux Falls School District to launch KiNVO and our Community and Culture Coaching services, to help ensure that every SFSD student is in school all day, every day.

In the Sioux Falls School District, the largest in the state of South Dakota, about 20 percent of students miss more than 10 days of school per year. Absences add up quickly; missing just two days per month means a child misses 10 percent of the school year (at which point, the student is considered chronically absent).

Dr. Brian Maher, Superintendent of  Sioux Falls School District, said that tackling attendance issues throughout the district is a top priority.

Three elementary schools (Hayward, Hawthorne, and Laura B. Anderson), one middle school (Whittier), and one high school (Washington) are early KiNVO adopters in the district. If the KiNVO pilot is successful at these schools, SFSD intends to expand KiNVO use across the district and entire Sioux Falls community.

To improve attendance is to change behavior across a community, which is no small endeavor. This takes a lot of time, focus, and hard work.  We’re honored to have a partner that puts so much emphasis on attendance. SFSD is Kinvolved’s first Midwest partnership, and we are very excited to continue growing our partnerships across the country!

If you have any questions about Kinvolved, including the KiNVO app, our Culture and Community Coaching services, or our Summits, don’t hesitate to reach out! Drop us a line at hello@kinvolved.com or on Twitter @kinvolved.

To request information on how to launch Kinvolved’s partnership in your district, or KiNVO at your school, please visit https://kinvolved.com/sign_up.

What you need to know about ESSA and Chronic Absenteeism

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On December 10, 2015, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)–a bipartisan measure that reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), our 50-year-old national education law meant to ensure equal opportunity for all students.

High school graduation rates are at historic highs, dropout rates are at historic lows, and more students are going to college than ever before–but there’s still much work to do to expand educational opportunity for all students. ESSA includes many provisions to help improve student outcomes and ensure success and continued progress for all students and schools. As the U.S. Department of Education states, the law:

 

  • Advances equity by upholding critical protections for America’s disadvantaged and high-need students.
  • Requires—for the first time—that all students in America be taught to high academic standards that will prepare them to succeed in college and careers.
  • Ensures that vital information is provided to educators, families, students, and communities through annual statewide assessments that measure students’ progress toward those high standards.
  • Helps to support and grow local innovations—including evidence-based and place-based interventions developed by local leaders and educators—consistent with our Investing in Innovation and Promise Neighborhoods.
  • Sustains and expands the Obama administration’s historic investments in increasing access to high-quality preschool.
  • Maintains an expectation that there will be accountability and action to effect positive change in our lowest-performing schools, where groups of students are not making progress, and where graduation rates are low over extended periods of time.

 

ESSA provisions focus heavily on ensuring that all students are college and career ready by the time they graduate from high school. As we know, chronic absenteeism has a major impact on dropout and graduation rates, and prevents many students from becoming college and career ready. ESSA requires states to report chronic absenteeism rates, and allows school districts to spend federal dollars on training to reduce absenteeism. ESSA also represents the first time that federal education law specifically mentions this measure of attendance; former iterations of the law (ESEA, No Child Left Behind) only included stipulations for truancy. Chronic absenteeism differs from truancy in that it tracks both excused and unexcused absences.

Chronic absence is a significant early warning indicator that a student is heading off track academically, and the education community has made significant strides to raise awareness of this issue. Thanks to the efforts of educators, school communities, parents, students, and education organizations and companies, support for attendance is both bipartisan and strong throughout the country.

Right now, 37 out of the 40 states that have submitted plans for implementing ESSA have included chronic absence as a measure on which they will report. ESSA’s inclusion of chronic absenteeism reflects that awareness of this issue is growing in Washington. Policy makers and legislators are beginning to understand that chronic absence is a key indicator for assessing school and student success. This progress is quite substantial, as policy is an essential component of enacting tangible, measurable change.

Kinvolved will continue to support our partner schools and districts in these states as they work to reduce absenteeism. Kinvolved strives to help districts elevate attendance by including families in education.

KiNVO, Kinvolved’s mobile and web app, enables K-12 school staff to access informative attendance data and to engage families through real-time, translated text messaging. Teachers and administrators can use the app to track period and daily attendance, send real-time SMS/email alerts to families, and record lost instructional minutes. Additionally, to help achieve our mission to elevate attendance, we offer Attendance Summits and Culture and Community Coaching. Our Attendance Summits align key community stakeholders, from districts and community-based organizations to mayor’s offices and government agencies, around common goals and strategies to fight chronic absence. Our Culture and Community Coaching for school and district teams promotes thoughtful implementation of research-backed attendance improvement strategies.

If you have any questions about Kinvolved, including the KiNVO app, our Professional Development, or Summits, don’t hesitate to reach out! Drop us a line at hello@kinvolved.com.

KiNVO - Jumprope integration

KiNVO and JumpRope integration

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Administrators and educators, do you need your attendance and gradebook data in one place? Look no further!

We are very excited to announce that we’ve integrated KiNVO by Kinvolved with JumpRope to bring you the best of both worlds.

Kinvolved is an organization dedicated to elevating student attendance. We offer three services to achieve this mission: Attendance Summits, Culture and Community Coaching, and KiNVO–our mobile and web app. Our Attendance Summits align key community stakeholders, from districts and community-based organizations to mayor’s offices and government agencies, around common goals and strategies to fight chronic absence. Our Culture and Community Coaching for school and district teams promotes thoughtful implementation of research-backed attendance improvement strategies. KiNVO, our mobile and web app, enables school and district teams to access informative attendance data and to engage families through real-time, two-way, translated, text messaging.

JumpRope is a mastery-based grading and reporting tool, which includes tracking for student attendance and reporting. Teachers, administrators, parents, and families can plan, score, report, and share feedback in terms of mastery of standards in all grade levels. JumpRope offers accounts to individual teachers that are free forever. Schools and districts can sign up for JumpRope to enable powerful customization, reporting, and collaboration features including the ability to integrate with other systems such as KiNVO.

Dr. Robert Balfanz, director of the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, cites chronic absenteeism as “the biggest thing in school improvement that people have not paid attention to.” Balfanz and colleagues from the EGC have published extensive research on utilizing an early warning indicator system to identify students in middle grades who are in danger of dropping out. Their research shows that by tracking attendance, behavior, and course performance (A-B-C for short) early on, teachers and administrators can identify at-risk students and help keep them on track for graduation–thus improving their chances of future success.

Given the intrinsic relationship between attendance, behavior, and course performance, merging KiNVO and JumpRope felt like a logical step in our quest to help tackle chronic absenteeism. We’re excited to further explore the ways in which utilizing data can help improve student outcomes at our upcoming Data Driven Leadership Summit.

So, how does KiNVO-JumpRope integration work?

Teachers record and save attendance in JumpRope.

  1. JumpRope sends attendance data to KiNVO in real-time.
  2. KiNVO sends instant, translated text messages, emails, and robocalls to families about attendance.
  3. Parents and guardians reply, and a single attendance contact receives all attendance responses.
  4. Within the KiNVO app, attendance data visuals illustrate trends in student, course, and school-wide attendance behavior.
  5. Teachers, Parent Coordinators, and other administrators use KiNVO for all parent and student communications.

If you’re interested in integrating KiNVO and JumpRope at your school, please purchase both softwares. You can schedule a consultation to learn more about how KiNVO can support your school by emailing hello@kinvolved.com or completing this form: https://kinvolved.com/sign_up. We will be happy to direct you to our friends at JumpRope.

Upon purchasing both softwares, you will speak with a KiNVO Client Success Specialist. We will ensure that your integration is enabled within 48 business hours. The integration requires that your JumpRope and KiNVO schedules are synced via STARS. KiNVO uses Clever to import STARS records, and receives STARS updates every 24 hours. JumpRope requires administrators to manually upload STARS files.

If you’re already already a KV or JR user and want to integrate, please contact support@kinvolved.com or https://support.jumpro.pe/hc/en-us.

 

Four Important Insights from the South Bronx Rising Together Education Summit

Four Important Insights from the South Bronx Rising Together Education Summit

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How are unemployment, asthma, and attendance related to one another? The answer to this question may not seem intuitive, but it was recently a discussion topic at the South Bronx Rising Together Education Summit that we attended on July 26th.

The Education Summit, hosted at Hostos Community College, brought together leaders and education stakeholders from various boroughs to discuss key issues in the education space, and to brainstorm potential cross-disciplinary solutions to achieve systems-level change.

South Bronx Rising Together (SBRT), a collaborative network of service providers and community stakeholders hosted the event. SBRT’s work spans various aspects of community life, such as healthcare and education.

The gathering focused on four initiatives in particular: “All In,” dedicated to decreasing chronic absenteeism, “All Clear,” dedicated to asthma support methods for healthy school environments, “All Star,” dedicated to increasing the number of youth achieving grade-level reading proficiency by third grade, and “All Work,” dedicated to decreasing the youth unemployment rate.

With more than 180 attendees, each with slightly different perspectives, there was much information and data to share and key takeaways to learn.

#1: No effort is too small. Sometimes, simple solutions make big impact.

Kinvolved’s CEO, Miriam Altman, led a presentation for the “All In” initiative, alongside Ronald Cope from the Children’s Aid Society. During the session, participants shared their schools’ attendance solutions. We learned some innovative approaches and solutions from their feedback — schools and districts have been fighting absenteeism in creative ways.

Miriam Altman presenting at SBRT Education Summit

For example, Mr. Luis Torres, Principal at C.S. 055 Benjamin Franklin, explained how his staff had noticed a sharp decline in attendance on rainy days. Parents were not bringing their children to school when there was inclement weather. So, Mr. Torres made an investment in umbrellas, which the school then distributed to families.

This school team found that, by simply providing umbrellas to families, they saw a drop in rainy-day absenteeism. This solution, however seemingly simple and maybe obvious, worked. It worked because the school team took notice of trends, and came to understand the needs of its students’ families.

We also learned about an intervention aptly named the Walking School Bus. At one school, many students were late or absent because they did not have an adult available to bring them safely to school. To solve this challenge for hard-working parents, the Walking School Bus created a safe, active walking route for students to travel to school as a group. The route is guarded by adults from the community, who lead students to school.

Walking School Bus programs are gaining widespread commonality. Many schools have begun to implement Walking School Bus programs, not just to increase attendance, but for its added health benefits, too. By fostering a safe and active way to get to school, one school eliminated this previous attendance barrier for many students.

The umbrella giveaway and Walking School Bus efforts reaffirm that even the simplest efforts to tackle chronic absenteeism can have tremendous effects. In both of these cases, the solution requires little financial investment. Instead, these grassroots and community-initiated responses offer innovative approaches that coordinated existing resources to help boost local schools’ attendance. Even small, low-cost gestures can have large impacts for children and families.

#2: Personalization makes a huge difference to student learning.

Deneisha Thompson, SBRT’s Facilitator, and Michael Sharp, a community volunteer, led a discussion for the “All Work” initiative that centered around youth unemployment in the South Bronx. One goal for SBRT is to reduce unemployment for youth ages 20-24 from 26.7% to New York City’s citywide average of 19.3% by December 31, 2020.

Densiesha Thompson

These high unemployment rates show that employment is clearly a challenge for many young adults. The New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) is aware that students should be “career ready” and “college ready” by the time they graduate high school. The NYC DOE has standards for these metrics, which they refer to as “domains.”

What does it mean to be “career ready?” After all, “career ready” can be interpreted in many different ways. The NYC DOE separates its answer to this question into the following categories: Academic Skills, Academic & Personal Behaviors, Academic Programming, and College & Career Access.

Participants first discussed strategies to redefine what it means to be “career ready.” Attendees then challenged the city’s standards and domains for career readiness. One key takeaway from the group discussion was that the NYC DOE’s standards would likely be more effective if they were more personal.

Key personal preferences, such as choice, interest, and student-centered plans are lacking, said Summit participants. One attendee mentioned the importance of storytelling, and how one’s personal narrative helps individuals carve out their goals and ambitions, which are arguably very important for one’s career.

Another attendee mentioned the importance of mentorship. Mentorship and guidance can allow students to create a more personalized “college and career readiness plan.” The current standards, however, do not name mentorship as a crucial element of the program.

By promoting students’ development of personalized and targeted approaches to defining their interests and setting their goals, students take initiative for their educations and futures. There isn’t a “one size fits all” approach to college and career readiness. Creating an individualized experience helps students self-reflect and set personalized goals that allow them to measure their success on a more personalized metric.

#3: Realize the existing system-level limitations. Understand, then overcome.

Participants reflected upon the information that they learned from one another at the conclusion of the Summit. While reflecting on the “All Star” campaign for third grade reading performance, one attendee mentioned that the Bronx does not have a bookstore and raised a poignant series of questions: Why doesn’t the Bronx have a bookstore? How far can efforts to increase reading performance go without a bookstore readily accessible to youth in the community?

It’s true — there isn’t a general bookstore in the entire borough since its Barnes & Noble closed at the end of 2016. How can schools and communities create a culture that elevates literacy, without having access to a physical bookstore for miles?

This observation resonated with many in the audience. The education system is comprised of many different players and stakeholders. Cross-sector work can ameliorate barriers for students and make substantive impact. We can strengthen goals and outcomes through strategic partnerships. Investment into something like a bookstore for the community is an example of a for-profit initiative that can be crucial to the success of public endeavors.

#4: Intersectionality is crucial. Varying opinions are important.

SBRT Summit

Think about the key players in education. Stakeholders such as teachers, administrators, students, and parents may immediately come to mind. But how do these stakeholders interact with distinct, yet intrinsically associated sectors, like employment or healthcare?

It’s easy to silo issues when considering solutions to problems. However, it’s extremely important to understand the intersectionality between such issues — how they connect and respond to one another within the system.

One moment that resonated with me was when SBRT’s student intern, who was a student from the Bronx, who had just graduated from high school, was asked her opinion about topics important to the community. SBRT’s student intern mentioned things relevant to youth in their daily lives, like dating violence and bullying, and she brought up points, which other experienced, adult educational professionals working in the field may not have considered.

This scenario stressed the importance of collective action for impact. Different perspectives are important, whether that be from a healthcare perspective, student perspective, or teacher perspective. These varying perspectives allow programs to be all-encompassing, created to address complex, multi faceted needs of communities, and therefore, more likely to be effective.

Intersectionality and cross-sector work is extremely important to systems change within education. When SBRT’s student intern voiced her opinion on topics SBRT should further explore to increase its effectiveness, she was able to provide an important lens for the future framework for SBRT and the community’s action.

Where do we go from here? What’s next?

Kinvolved is creating a movement to elevate student attendance and combat chronic absenteeism. A movement cannot spread without the voices and involvement of the community. Active partnership with SBRT is one way that Kinvolved acts upon this approach.

SBRT’s work allows for a forum within the community. Community stakeholders are able to interact with one another and to brainstorm solutions to these large-scale problems. Chronic absenteeism and educational inequity cannot be eliminated by one specific individual or even one organization.

By leveraging partnerships and making connections between organizations with similar goals and initiatives, we can make even more impact within our communities. As one attendee mentioned during the “All Work” forum, “there is no way to make change without partners.”

Follow SBRT on Twitter to stay in touch and learn more about upcoming events.

See more pictures from the event below.

Alina Joharjian is a Business Development intern with Kinvolved this summer. She studies Public Policy at Brown University, where she is active in various community-service programming and initiatives. She has previous experience mentoring and tutoring elementary students in Providence, RI.

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