October 2015 Guest Articles

Posted on October 19, 2015


By Elizabeth James, Director of Product Strategy, Synovia Solutions, LLC., ejames@synoviasolutions.com

 Liz James

It’s more than a Yellow Bus, It’s the ticket to academic achievement


As the school year progresses, attendance and tardiness begin to rise negatively impacting a student’s ability to learn. Research shows that missing 10 percent of the school year, or about 18 days in most districts, negatively affects a student’s academic performance. That’s just two days a month and considered chronic absence. What’s worse,by sixth grade, chronic absence becomes a leading indicator that a student will drop out of high school[1].


Absenteeism and its ill effects start early. Studies show that one in 10 kindergarten and first grade students are chronically absent. Some may think “no harm no foul” for such young students. However, poor attendance early on can influence whether children read proficiently by the end of third grade or are held back.[2]


As the energy of a new school year begins to wear off in Indiana and everyone settles into the daily routine of school-work, we begin to see students either arriving late to the bus stop, missing the bus and reporting to school tardy, or worse, being absent altogether.


When it comes to students’ academic success, the Yellow Bus plays a critical role; more so than one may think. 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 schools prevent tardiness and non-illness related absences by delivering a massive number students to school on time each day.


According to American School Bus Council, an estimated 480,000 school buses transport 26 million students who attend school each day in the United States. In Indiana, nearly 750,000[4] students rely on transportation provided by the school. Making sure those students are arriving to school on time and ready to learn is critical to the academic experience.


When students miss the bus, data shows they will have a difficult time getting to school on time. In fact, a missed school bus often results in students arriving late or completely missing the day altogether. Consider the impact missing a school bus can have on a student’s academic performance.


So what are the reasons students miss the bus? Many report the bus arrived earlier than the usual time and the student wasn’t ready for school. Others claim the bus was later than normal and they thought they already missed the bus. And let’s be honest, some students/parents are just simply not as organized as others and could use some help keeping track of bus pick-up and drop-off times. Regardless of the reason, everyday hundreds of thousands of students are missing the bus, and as a result, missing school.


Sending a child out to the bus stop can be a stressor, especially when the days are shorter and severe weather is looming. Parents worry, is the child late, on time, or will they be waiting in the cold, dark, fog, or rain? In an effort to keep children safe and at the bus stop on time, parents want to know the location of their child’s bus, whether it’s running late, early or on time.


In an effort to ensure every child makes it onto his/her bus affording them the opportunity to arrive on time and ready to learn each day, several schools throughout the U.S. are looking into GPS tracking software that helps parents and administrators track the location of a child’s bus. Eleven school districts in Indiana are implementing a new website and mobile device app that is connected to the GPS tracking platform of each student’s bus.


The new app, Here Comes The Bus® created by Indianapolis-based company, Synovia Solutions, is a parent-facing tool that is connected to the transportation department’s GPS platform providing parents and school administrators the real-time location of a child’s bus on a smartphone, tablet or computer.


Now parents have the information they need to get their child to the bus stop on time. Parents can select the alerts they want to receive and how. For instance, they can receive a push notification or email alert when their child’s bus is within five minutes of the bus stop. In addition, parents can quickly locate their bus on a customizable map from anywhere, and will see when it arrives at or leaves school, or if there’s a schedule change.


For parents, knowing the real-time location of the school bus helps reduce the chance of their student missing the bus and missing the whole day of school or, at best, arriving tardy. Administrators and teachers benefit by significantly reducing absence and tardiness of students in their district while also enjoying the added benefit of the reduced workload of answering calls from concerned parents.


According to the statistics listed earlier, it’s clear the more a child is in school the better chance he or she has of succeeding. So this school year, remember the impact your Yellow Buses are having on students’ academic performance and on the school system as a whole – you’re providing more than just safe transportation, your buses are the driving force of our future.


[1]Attendance Works http://www.attendanceworks.org/facts-stats-school-attendance/

[2]Attendance Works http://www.attendanceworks.org/facts-stats-school-attendance/

[3] American School Bus Council http://www.schoolbusfacts.com/media-resources

[4] Indiana Department of Education