More than 40 years have passed since the Equal Educational Opportunities Act (EEOA) of 1974 prohibited discrimination and required school districts to take action to overcome barriers to students’ equal participation; yet today public education has made little progress and still struggles with inequity challenges. In a quick search for inequity in education, nearly 45 million articles have been published pointing the blame on financial resources, teacher quality, technology instruction, access to challenging curriculum, and the list goes on.

The common denominator is students. Without students, educators cannot make an impact on inequality. To begin closing the gap, we must start with getting students to school on time every day. They have to show up before any aforementioned theories have impact.

A landmark study of absenteeism in six states[1] found that poverty was the biggest risk factor for missing school: 1 in 4 rural poor students missed more than 10 days of school, and 1 in 3 urban poor students did the same. Students in poverty are more likely to miss school due to illnesses, transportation difficulties, and school suspensions.

Research shows that missing 10 percent of the school year, or about 18 days in most districts, negatively affects a student’s academic performance. By sixth grade, chronic absence becomes a leading indicator that a student will drop out of high school[2].

The data is clear, absenteeism has a direct impact on a student’s ability to succeed in school and impoverished children are more likely to miss school than their privileged peers.

When it comes to students’ academic success, the school bus plays a critical role. It’s more than providing the safest transportation option[3] for students to get to and from school. Buses have an even greater impact on helping prevent tardiness and non-illness related absences by delivering a massive number of students to school on time each day.

For many, buses are the only way to school. When students miss the bus, data shows they will have a difficult time getting to school on time and often completely miss the day altogether. Making sure students are arriving to school on time and ready to learn is critical to the overall academic experience and improving the academic achievement gap.

Yet every day hundreds of thousands of students are missing the bus in America, and as a result, missing school. Getting a child to the bus stop can be a stressor. Parents worry, is the child late, on time, or will they be waiting in the dark, cold, or rain? For lower-income families, which are now more likely than ever to be headed by a single parent, the stressors double making it even more challenging to get their children to the bus stop. Not to mention, lower-income and single-parent families are increasingly stretched for time and resources leaving pre-teen and teen children in charge of getting themselves and siblings to the bus stop each day.

To ensure every child makes it onto his/her bus affording them the opportunity to arrive on time and ready to learn each day, schools are looking into GPS tracking software like Here Comes the Bus®, a school bus tracking app that gives parents real-time bus location and alerts to get students to the bus stop on time. The Here Comes the Bus tracking app is free in the App Store and Google Play to parents whose school district provides the software.

Now parents can have the information they need to get their child to the bus stop safely and to school on time ready to learn. Knowing the real-time location of the school bus helps reduce the chance of students missing the bus and missing the whole day of school. Educators benefit by significantly reducing absence and tardiness of students.

Some schools are taking it a step further and not just tracking the location of the bus, but also tracking each student boarding and exiting the bus by scanning the students’ school ID cards.

Whether tracking the location of the bus or a specific student entering and exiting a bus, schools around the country are putting measures in place to ensure each student has an equal opportunity to arrive at school safely and ready to learn. It’s clear the more a child is in school the better chance of succeeding. When considering programs to reduce the academic achievement gap, don’t discount the impact transportation is having on students’ academic performance– it’s more than just a safe ride, transportation technology is the driving force of our future.

 

[1] The importance of being in school: A report on being absence in the nation’s public schools http://new.every1graduates.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/FINALChronicAbsenteeismReport_May16.pdf
[2] Attendance Works http://www.attendanceworks.org/facts-stats-school-attendance/
[3] American School Bus Council http://www.schoolbusfacts.com/media-resources