For students to succeed in school, they must attend school. It is especially important for students to be present in the early grades when they develop foundational literacy and numeracy skills that serve as the building blocks for their success in later grades. Student attendance is an often-overlooked measure that can play a significant role in addressing student deficiencies.
Chronic absence is a measure of how much school a student misses for any reason. It is a broader measure than truancy, which only tracks unexcused absences. Starting in the early grades, chronic absence levels can reach remarkably high levels. National data suggests one in 10 kindergartners misses a month of school every year. In some districts, it runs as high as one in four. The rates only get higher by middle and high school when truancy grows worse.
Grundy County Schools rallied together for the 2016-2017 school year to improve attendance. Eye-catching banners reading “All Day, Every Day “were placed at each school. And, schools worked to make attendance a priority by implementing programs focusing on reducing the number of missed days. Schools created bulletin boards focusing on attendance, data was posted to show the accomplishments of the schools, and teachers and principals focused on attendance throughout the school year. Classrooms were in competitions to see which class had the better attendance. Students focused on winning the contests and, in turn, their attendance improved. Teachers and administrators had Professional Development Training focusing on attendance; Attendance Works came from California to work with supervisors, secretaries, principals, and teachers; and data was analyzed and it was determined where we should focus our efforts.
Each school offered a variety of rewards to the students including popcorn parties, certificates, and individual awards. Principals competed against each other monthly and the school with the highest attendance level received the attendance trophy for the month. The trophy has traveled all over the county during this school year.
This week, there will be a principal’s meeting and the school with the highest overall attendance will be awarded.