Nebraska state wards miss school twice as often as other students and are half as likely to graduate from high school, according to a report released Friday by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.
Wards also change schools at much higher rates, are more than twice as likely to be identified as “special education” and perform worse on every state test compared with their nonward peers, the Nebraska Department of Education report said.
The bleak study “confirms what we already knew,” said Roger Breed, Nebraska’s commissioner of education.
Officials in various agencies — health and human services, juvenile courts and schools — should do better at sharing information more frequently to keep kids in their original schools, Breed said.
“The school that knows them. The school they have been attending, where teachers and administrators know who they are,” he said.
All of the agencies might be working on similar things with the same child, Breed said, without each of them aware of it.
“We’re not doing a good job of sharing insights and information that might be helpful,” he said.
For its part, the Omaha Public Schools have a policy that lets a student stick with his or her original school if the family moves during the school year, said David Patton, district spokesman.
OPS works with the family to try to secure district transportation to the new school but doesn’t guarantee it, Patton said.
Thomas Pristow, director at HHS of the Children and Family Services Division, said his department plans to work with education officials to do better for state wards.
“It’s critical for our program improvement plan that we have a process to be successful with this, and we will,” he said.
The study evaluated data of state wards attending accredited Nebraska public schools during the 2010-11 school year.
About 87 percent of non-wards graduated that school year, whereas almost 44 percent of wards got diplomas, the report said.
State wards also missed about 16 school days; non-wards missed about 8 days, according to the report. Wards of the state were six times as likely to attend two or more schools during the school year, the report said.
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