Another good NPR piece on chronic absence, this time including an interview with Hedy Chang, of Attendance Works, a Campaign implementation partner!
Here's how it begins:
It's one of the oldest issues in school improvement: Getting kids to show up. If students miss 10 percent of the school year — that's just two days a month —research shows they are way more likely to fall behind — even drop out.
Today, the U.S. Education Department is releasing a report on the first national data set on chronic absence — defined as missing 15 or more days of school a year. The numbers come from the 2013-2014 Civil Rights Data Collection survey — an on-the-ground look from 95,000 schools.
The numbers are striking: More than 6 million kids are missing 15 days or more of school a year.
The New Britain and Hartford Campaigns for Grade-Level Reading, along with United Way staff, were invited by the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood (OEC) to help create materials on early literacy. The group created a document about the importance of school attendance for 3 and 4 year olds, geared to a public school audience. The document will be posted on the OEC website under “press releases” and “latest news”.
Read it here: Getting to School Matters Final
In case you missed it, check out this story on National Public Radio on May 30, 2016 (Memorial Day) about GLR Campaign Community Kent County (Grand Rapids) Michigan's successful work to reduce chronic school absence and support parent success! Kent County's attendance work also has also been featured in a GLR Campaign Bright Spot.
The NPR piece also features Chana Edmond-Verley, of the Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation of Grand Rapids, which has been very involved in the local GLR Campaign and was featured in another Bright Spot highlighting Kent County's summer learning work.
Attendance Works is excited to announce the second of our webinar series: Using Data to Drive Action: Portraits of Chronic Absence, on Tuesday, May 17, 2016, 11-12:30 pm (PT) / 2-3:30 pm (ET). You can register now.
In this webinar we will highlight the upcoming release of the first national data on chronic absence from the Office for Civil Rights. This data offers educators and local leaders an unprecedented opportunity to explore in detail—by district, by school and by student sub-groups—the national picture of how many students are at academic risk due to missing too many days of school.
We’ll also feature lessons from states and communities that are already using their local chronic absence data to raise awareness about the impact of absences on student achievement. Speakers from New Jersey (Cynthia Rice, with Advocates for Children of New Jersey,) Mississippi (Linda Southward with Mississippi Kids Count, and Toni Kersh with Mississippi Dept. of Education) and Oregon (Betsy Hammond of The Oregonian) will talk about how they are using chronic absence analyses to galvanize action to reduce chronic absence.
Attendance Works will preview upgrades to its free District and School Attendance Tracking Tools. Join us! Click here to register (Save the following dates for the remainder of the webinar series: August 16, September 8, and November 1)
Find out more about Attendance Awareness on our microsite.
In Utah, Gov. Gary Herbert proclaimed September as “School Attendance Awareness Month” in Utah.
During the next month, the State Board of Education, along with the Governor’s Office and several other agencies, will be working together to find policies, procedures and state laws to increase attendance at Utah’s schools.
Read more here: http://fox13now.com/2014/08/29/utah-officials-begin-statewide-push-to-boost-school-attendance/
Has your state, city, or town declared September "Attendance Awareness Month"? Let us know in the comments!
Do you have something to celebrate? These communities do! And if you've got a press release or other news to share, you can post it here and it will appear in the Roundup with the other wins.
Oakland, CA: The Oakland Tribune ran a great advertorial about the start of school and the importance of regular attendance. Mayor Jean Quan, the Oakland Education Cabinet, and the Oakland Attendance Collaborative worked together to make this happen. Check out the advertisement!
Twin Cities*: In Minneapolis, a bus with 32 computers and software that uses singing to boost reading has been making the rounds at Minneapolis Public Schools summer school and the YMCA. Children using the Rock 'n' Read Bus software showed an average gain of 1 year of reading achievement in 13.5 hours of singing, according to research by the University of South Florida. The bus, which is the first initiative of the The Rock 'n' Read Project, serviced about 200 students this summer.
Hartford, CT: Early in August, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education Deborah Delisle and Connecticut politicians visited the classrooms of Y-BELL Power Scholars Academy, a free summer program that serves 275 children. Hartford's YMCA and BELL joined forces to create this program, which features rigorous academics in the morning and fun STEM-related activities in the afternoon. In last year's pilot run, the 75 students who took part showed significant improvement in reading and math; kids in grades K-4 gained 5.7 months of grade-equivalent literacy skills and 10.7 months in math. Read more here.
Dubuque, IA: The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque (CFGD) recently received a $180,000 grant from an anonymous donor to expand the Dubuque Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s work to two rural communities. Dyersville and Maquoketa will join eight other communities in Iowa and more than 150 communities nationwide focused on helping more children read proficiently by the end of third grade. And in other good news, St. Mark Youth Enrichment in Dubuque provided summer learning assistance to more than 100 students entering first through fifth grades in Dubuque and Dyersville. Nearly 88 percent of the kids gained or maintained literacy skills over the course of the science-themed program.
Rochester, NY: The Rochester City School District announced a goal of hitting 95% attendance on the first day of school! The district is expanding its truancy blitzes (when Superintendent Bolgen Vargas and teams of volunteers knock on the doors of absent children) from 8 schools to 13, and has already started knocking on doors. Also in the works is a marketing campaign focused on attendance, and recruitment of volunteers to drive late-registering students who don't yet have school bus assignments. Read more here.
Attendance Works and LearnLead’s Perfectly Punctual Campaign are pleased to announce a partnership that will allow more schools and communities access to materials and strategies for building good, on-time attendance habits starting in preschool.
Now Perfectly Punctual will provide its materials and suggested strategies on its website and the Attendance Works site for broad distribution at no cost.
For years, Perfectly Punctual has helped engage children and families in the importance of showing up to school on time every day. Kids fill out an attendance scorecard every day: circling a star when they’re on time or a rushing clock when they’re tardy. If they’re absent, they circle a sad face the next time they’re in school.
Children wear buttons or stickers with the iconic “Punctual Pete” when they arrive on time. At the end of the week, the scorecard goes home so that parents can reflect on the week’s attendance. Parents and children are regularly recognized for getting to school on time every day.
The simple strategy has paid dividends for preschools and schools in Washington, DC; Baltimore, Delray Beach, Florida, and Marshalltown, Iowa.
Read the Attendance Works blog for more details.
New Britain -- The Consolidated School District of New Britain has seen another drop in the number of chronically absent elementary school students.
The positive trend is the result of a collaborative effort between the Consolidated School District of New Britain, the Coalition for New Britain’s Children, the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain and other organizations.
The change in the number of students who are chronically absent improved from 5 percent in preschool to as high as 36 percent in second grade. First, second, third, fourth and fifth grades district wide all saw double-digit percentage improvements in chronic absenteeism this school year.
Chronically absent students are those who miss 10 percent, or 18 days, of school in a given school year. Studies show that chronic absenteeism has a negative effect on academic performance, especially a student’s ability to read at grade level by third grade.
In the 2011-2012 school year, 30 percent of New Britain kindergarteners were chronically absent from school. That number was reduced to 17.5 percent in 2012-2013, and 13.4 percent this past school year.
In second grade, 13.7 percent of students were chronically absent in 2012-2013. That number was 8.8 percent in 2013-2014.
The school district has worked to reduce the numbers of chronically absent students for several years, but stepped up efforts in recent years have improved results. The district employs two part-time family intervention specialists and a full-time attendance director to improve school attendance district-wide. One part-time position is funded by the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain; the other is funded by the state Office of Policy and Management.
The district’s attendance director, Joe Vaverchak, said there are several reasons for the improvement, including the increased focus at the school level.
“It’s working well because the school attendance teams are meeting weekly; there’s a consistency there,” he said. “They are not only looking at the data, but they are analyzing and acting on the data.”
Kimberley Russo, chairperson of the Coalition for New Britain’s Children said the numbers show a positive trend.
“The improving school attendance numbers reflect the hard work of a community-wide commitment to life and school success,” Russo said. “Research shows that students who are not in school fall behind and stay behind. Reduced chronic absenteeism means that more New Britain children are spending more time in class, which improves their odds for academic gains.”
Vaverchak said staff and families are working together to create a change in attitude when it comes to the importance of school attendance, especially at the lower grades.
“We’re really moving on a culture change to addressing chronic absenteeism,” he said.
As you may have seen on the "Events" widget, the next Attendance works webinar “Can You Hear Us Now? Amplifying Key Messages About the Importance of Attendance,” will be held on August 6, 1 - 2:30 pm ET. You can register here.
When parents and youth understand the link between good attendance and their hopes and dreams for the future, they are motivated to do whatever they can to get to school every day. Hearing that message from friends, mentors, teachers, counselors, pastors, coaches, doctors, business owners, mayors -- in short, the entire community speaking with one voice -- can have a tremendous impact on student attendance.
Join Hedy Chang, Director of Attendance Works, and a cross-section of speakers as they discuss how to engage youth and parents authentically in building a local culture of attendance, as well as share strategies for how to rally leaders from every walk of life to speak in unison during Attendance Awareness Month.
This webinar will also feature the latest resources from Attendance Works, including our teacher toolkit, Teaching Attendance, our forthcoming principal toolkit, Leading Attendance, and a new video tailored for parents of young children.
Don't miss out. Register for this free webinar today!
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