Lawrence school district analyzes former Broken Arrow and Pinckney students’ attendance, behavior 

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Attendance and behavior issues among students who transferred from the now-closed Pinckney and Broken Arrow elementary schools last year have improved, a district administrator told the school board Wednesday. 

The board in March 2023 voted to close Pinckney and Broken Arrow elementary schools as part of budget cuts.

Community members, many pleading with the board to keep schools open, spoke at meetings and open forums leading up to the decision. Data and projections show the district’s student enrollment is down this year and will continue to decrease, and some families have pointed to school closures and other budget cuts as reasons why students have left.

One way the district hoped to analyze the impact was to observe attendance and behavior of students who attended Broken Arrow and Pinckney in 2022-23. Chief Academic Officer Patrick Kelly reported findings to school board members during their meeting Wednesday. 

Although attendance among all elementary and middle school students has overall improved from last year to this year, Kelly said. This data set focused on Pinckney and Broken Arrow transfers.

“So just as we dive into it, there’s a way to look at this data that says one school was bad and one was good,” Kelly said. “That’s not what this is. This is just frequency and some data to look at here.”

Included in the data set were 402 students — 66 in middle school and 336 in elementary school, the agenda item says. The district collected data from between Aug. 1 and Feb. 28 for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years. 

According to the report, Pinckney and Broken Arrow students who transferred to another elementary school or moved on to one of the four middle schools were absent less during the 2023-24 year at their current schools compared to the 2022-23 year at their previous schools.

Recorded behavior incidents involving former Pinckney and Broken Arrow kindergarten through fourth graders dropped to 33 in 2023-24 from 70 in 2022-23.

Fifth grade students saw a spike in a category called “teachable moments,” but Kelly supposed that’s normal for that stage where they’re heading to middle school.

However, it’s important to note that the study only includes attendance and behavior reports teachers entered into PowerSchool, the districtwide online portal, Kelly pointed out. He said teachers have “significant latitude” to determine what gets entered.

“This report does not represent all of the behaviors that have occurred — only what is entered,” he said.

Within the data set, the number of kindergarten through eighth grade students with no absence issues increased by 44%. Chronic absenteeism, defined as missing 10% or more of school days due to absence for any reason, decreased by 28% within that group. 


Breaking the data down further, the number of elementary students in kindergarten through fourth grade with no absence issues increased by 44%, and chronic absenteeism decreased by 29%. Fifth graders — who comprised 16% of students in the data set — with no absence issues increased by 62%, and chronic absenteeism decreased by 23%.

In addition to overall improved attendance, the number of students in the data set who received in-school suspensions and out-of-school suspensions has decreased. Kelly said in his discussions with elementary school principals, they said the beginning of the 2023-24 school year was “rough” as everyone had to get acclimated but that they eventually saw growth. 

Kelly credited the teamwork and communication between staff, students and families to help Pinckney and Broken Arrow students transition.

“We really worked hard — our elementary principals and middle school principals really communicating about how we can welcome these students in,” Kelly said. “We also have to express a ton of gratitude to our parents. We asked them to change transportation plans; we asked them to meet new protocols that are happening in a building — how it might have been done at Broken Arrow might not have been the same way it was done at Schwegler; we had to meet new people. And so all of that is the great work done by our families, our students and our staff.”

View the report attached to the item on Wednesday’s meeting agenda on BoardDocs.

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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