Improving Communities through Integrated Data Systems: School Absenteeism and Neighborhood Characteristics

University Center for Social and Urban Research   (Pittsburgh)

June 2013 - December 2015

The Pittsburgh Neighborhood and Community Information System (PNCIS) within the University Center for Social and Urban Research at the University of Pittsburgh is working with the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) to study how neighborhood characteristics and human services involvement affects absenteeism. Chronic school absenteeism is not only a strong predictor of lower educational achievement, but has also been linked to health, housing, and neighborhood condition issues such as asthma, poor property conditions, financial instability, and high crime rates.

The study targets students who miss 10 percent or more days of school in the Pittsburgh Public Schools, the Clairton School District, and the Woodland Hills School District. Client data from Allegheny County DHS’s Data Warehouse, an IDS, will be linked to property and community conditions data from PNCIS. The Data Warehouse contains client-level data on child welfare, mental health services, drug and alcohol services, intellectual disability, homeless and housing support, and family support services that have already been linked to data from local corrections agencies, the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, local housing authorities, and the Allegheny County school districts. Student records from the Allegheny County school districts include student lunch status, suspensions, absenteeism, GPA, special education status, and standardized test scores. Property and community characteristics in the PNCIS database include vacancy rates, code violations, building permits, property tax records, crime rates, foreclosure filings, and land use. Data from the two systems will be joined through a process that maps student records to a parcel number that can be linked to the PNCIS database.