22 Jun

The CTX Absence Reasons Study

Absence Reasons Study Summary

E3 Alliance uses objective data to drive collaborative change “cradle to career” in Central Texas. Recently the organization has focused its efforts on student attendance, an issue that has a “triple bottom line” impact on students, teachers, and school resources. In 2013, we conducted a study to collect detailed information about why students in Central Texas miss school. Our findings suggest that coordinated region-wide efforts to prevent acute illness can improve attendance for all students, while targeted interventions can help specific sub-populations of students to reduce absenteeism and experience greater academic success.

Key Findings:

  • 72% of absences are “true absences,” defined here as cases in which students are not in class, at another district campus, or participating in a school event.
  • Acute illnesses such as colds or flu account for 48% of all true absences in the region. The next most common reasons were skipping, chronic illness and family emergencies.
  • Absence frequency patterns were similar across two non-contiguous districts, and a spike in acute illness absences seen in both districts aligned with a spike in flu in the region.
  • Although half of Central Texas students are low-income, they account for more than half of mental health, and non-medical absences such as family responsibilities, skipping, and logistical problems getting to school.
  • Students at risk of dropping out are significantly more likely than their peers to miss school due to family responsibilities, logistical problems getting to school including transportation, skipping, out of school suspensions, and for legal reasons.
  • Males and students who were ever English Language Learners are more likely than their peers to miss school due to skipping, out of school suspensions, and for legal reasons.
  • Students in the 9th and 12th grades are more likely than students in other grades to skip class.

To learn more, please read the full report.

09 Jun

Prescriptions for Pre-K

AARO Rx pad2-page-0PRE-K FLYER3 (1)-page-0

The Austin Area Research Organization (AARO), together with E3 Alliance, has been working with a group of committed business and civic leaders who believe that one of the best investments we can make is to ensure children are ready for Kindergarten when they enter school. Our regional data shows that children who attend a pre-K program are far more likely to be ready for school than children who stay home or with a relative. We know that in Central Texas not every child who could attend a pre-K program is enrolling.  For this reason, regional leaders are supporting a pre-K enrollment initiative focused on getting the ~ 2,000 eligible children in our region who are not enrolled to be registered and attending pre-K in Central Texas.  We know from the data that enrolling them in pre-K will not only increase their readiness and avoid later interventions, it will save our region $30M over their lifetimes for each year’s cohort of four year olds who attend pre-K!

This is not a broad billboard or advertising campaign; we are looking for just ~2,000 specific families. We want to reach them through programs and service providers who they already know and use and trust. We are working with a team of dozens health professionals and social service agencies and nonprofits to get the word out to eligible families so they can register for pre-K in their district.

One unique way local health professionals are supporting this is effort is by providing  families whose young children are not currently enrolled with a “prescription” for a local pre-K program, complete with contact information for local school districts. The prescription is written in both English and Spanish so that it can be useful to as many families as possible.

If you’re interested in helping with our pre-K enrollment initiative, please contact Laura Koenig, Director of School Readiness, at lkoenig@e3alliance.org.

To learn more about how parents can prepare their young children for school, please explore E3 Alliance’s School Readiness Parent Guide.


07 Apr

Event: Impact of Flu Immunization on Student Absenteeism

When: Wednesday, April 23, 2014; 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Where: St. David’s Medical Center, 5th Floor, 3000 IH 35 Frontage, Austin, TX 78741

Reducing the rates of flu in Central Texas not only directly improves the health of students and those they may expose to infectious disease, but will also benefit student educational outcomes and the regional economy.

This work is based on a ground-breaking Absence Reasons Study conducted by E3 Alliance and Children’s Optimal Health in 2013 to better understand why students are absent in order to better inform decision-making about how community and health infrastructure impacts students. This study determined that almost half (48%) of all student absences are due to acute illness. A Flu Immunization Taskforce was formed, and has been working together since the fall of 2013, studying local and national data on acute illness, and in particular influenza, and the related health and educational impacts due to flu illness.

The E3-3D presentation will focus on:

  • Ground-breaking research linking health, absenteeism, and educational outcomes
  • The potential impact of a school-based influenza immunization pilot program on student absenteeism
  • Review of opportunities and challenges of a region-wide pilot on-campus immunization program being launched this fall in five Central Texas school districts
  • How we can together create a platform for effective community outreach to have many more families participate in this effort

This is a community-wide effort and will require community-wide solutions. We need YOU to be part of the planning to make it successful!

Light refreshments will be provided. Event is free, however RSVP is required:

Visit: https://e3-3d-flu-immunization.eventbrite.com

05 Sep

What a kickoff!


Yesterday Missing School Matters kicked off the 2013-2014 campaign (and Attendance Awareness Month!) at IBC Bank in east Austin.

Susan Dawson, president of E3 Alliance, started off with the startling facts about attendance in Central Texas – for example, did you know there are 2.4 million student absences in Central Texas per year (for over 300,000 students)?  She also shared that fortunately, the Missing School Matters campaign as well as other efforts seem to be making progress – 2012, the first year of the campaign, had the fewest absences in over 10 years – saving schools $7.5 million dollars!

Next, Dr. Meria Carstarphen, the superintendent of AISD, echoed the importance of the campaign to the region and the dedication and efforts that are in place on Austin campuses.  She emphasized the importance of keeping the roughly $40 per day that each student absence costs a school.  Next, this video of Round Rock’s Stony Point Middle school (last year’s Get School national attendance champions) was shown before principal Albert Hernandez got up to discuss the positive impact that the campaign had on the students.

Dr. Amy Wiseman gave her presentation on the reasons that students are absent – over half of which are potentially preventable.  Even though the study used self-reported data, the second most common reason for absence (5% of absences) was students willing to admit that they skipped!  Other common reasons that can be easily avoided are travel, routine medical and dental appointments, and suspensions.

Lauren Paver, task force co-chair, gave an overview of the Missing School Matters taskforce – our campaign to generate broad awareness with parents and in the community.  Task force members shared ways that they had reached out:  from putting up posters at the YMCA, giving a presentation at the PTA meeting, to telling church groups, to having a conversation with the local constable, every bit of awareness helps!  Resources for spreading the word (including posters, infographics, news articles, and PSAs) can be found in our Campaign Toolkit.  Speakers from the task force can also be requested by emailing info@e3alliance.org

Finally, for our big closer, Bree-Anna Dominguez got up to remind us all why it’s worth all this effort.  A former student at Manor High School, she  found out she was pregnant during her senior year, and her morning sickness extinguished her motivation to go to school.  Luckily her Communities in Schools advocate Krista was there for her, keeping her motivated every step of the way and convincing her to finish high school.  Bree-Anna found her strength and finished high school on time – eliciting applause from the audience and a beaming smile from Bree-Anna!  She serves as a reminder that every day a student misses school, they miss out on a chance to find their inspiration and make a change in their life.

Thank you IBC Bank for hosting, Costco for providing breakfast, and to all of our speakers and sponsors who helped make this event a huge success!  To see pictures, go to www.facebook.com/MissingSchoolMatters and check out our live tweets @MissingMatters

09 Aug

Why do students miss school?

Earlier this year, E3 Alliance and Children’s Optimal Health cooperated on a study to find the most common reasons that students miss school.  Researchers analyzed the 16,800 absences in 9 schools with demographics that mirrored the Central Texas region.  Perhaps not surprising is that acute illness accounted for 48% of school absences – but on the other hand, that means 52% of absences were NOT due to illness.  Preventable absences like routine medical appointments, skipping, and travel were all among the top 10 reasons students missed school.  Every day counts – if we can reduce those preventable absences by 3 days per student per year, Texas schools could gain an additional $34 million in funding.

To read more about the study and see the presentation of the findings, please visit the following links:

Acute Illness is the Prominent Reason why Students Miss School in Central Texas – Link to press release and presentations

Student Absences in Central Texas – What are the reasons? – Blog post on the study by Dr. Amy Wiseman.

05 Aug

2013 Missing School Matters Kickoff Event

Miss School.
Miss Out.

When your son or daughter misses a day at school, they’re missing out on a lot more than classes or
homework. They’re missing opportunities. Opportunities to learn. To gain confidence. To be inspired. To be
a friend. To experience a moment that may have a positive, lasting impact.

But that’s not all. They’ll also start to miss out on things like teachers, electives, sports programs and arts
education. Because every year, school absences cost Central Texas $34 million dollars in lost revenue.
That’s $34 million in lost opportunities for your child, your school and your community.


E3 Alliance, together with AARO invites employers, associations and community groups to help spread the word that that Missing School Matters.  Join us on September 4th to kick off the 2013 Central Texas campaign – and National Attendance month!  Speakers include Dr. Meria Carstarphen, superintendent of the Austin Independent School District, and Susan Dawson, president and executive director of E3 Alliance.

  • Learn about the Get Schooled Central Texas Fall Attendance Challenge to get middle and junior high school students aware of the importance of going to class.
  • Review new data from E3 and Children’s Optimal Health regarding the reasons for absences.
  • Get your own promotional tool kit with messages, flyers, articles and more to help spread the word about keeping kids in school.
  • Network and brainstorm with other business and community leaders on how to tackle this important issue.

The kickoff event will be held at IBC Bank on (2817 E. Cesar Chavez) from 9am-10:30am.  To register for the event, please click here.  For more information, please contact us at info@e3alliance.org

02 Aug

Missing School Matters at Blues on the Green 8/7!

Find out about our 2013 Missing School Matters campaign at KGSR’s Blues on the Green at Zilker Park!  The event will take place August 7th, and from 7:30-9:30pm we will have a booth in the Polycom/Nonprofit area just north of the main stage (if facing the stage, on the left).  You can listen to a free live music show from White Denim, My Jerusalem, and The Preservation, and come away with easy actions that YOU can take to help schools get more funding.

For more information about Blues on the Green, please click here.