Showing posts with label chronic absenteeism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chronic absenteeism. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

School Attendance Improvements Start With You

Here at FamilyWize, we are excited to be partnering with other organizations in support of September's national Attendance Awareness Month – an initiative to generate awareness of the importance of school attendance to academic and life success, and to bolster school attendance statistics nationwide.

Two big reasons we're proud to be a part of this initiative is, first, the initiative's successes to date (which you can read about in this previous School Attendance Awareness Month FamilyWize article).  Common sense and research make it clear that, in order for students to learn, they need to come to school consistently/regularly. Through Attendance Awareness Month, improvements in school attendance across the U.S. is making positive strides.

Second, the initiative's active work to help parents, children, and schools this very month is encouraging. On their website, you can find countless activities and teaching aids being added every day, as well as examples of what School Attendance Month partners, such as FamilyWize, are doing.  Here are just a few "actionable" examples -- activities and ideas that you can personally participate in.

Awareness via Social Media

Attendance Awareness Month is making it easy for you to spread the word in your community about attendance statistics, activities, and opportunities related to this important initiative by using social media sites. For example, they have assembled a social media posting guide chockfull  of daily posts you can use on Facebook to make daily Attendance Awareness Month announcements on your (or your school's) Facebook and Twitter pages, as this page snippet shows.

A good Facebook posting sample you can use:  “FACT: Nationally, as many as 7.5 million students nationwide miss 10 percent of the school year in excused and unexcused absences every year. That’s 135 million days of school.  Learn more about reducing chronic school absence here.”  See how easy it is to get involved?

Awareness via Event Content from YOU

Attendance Awareness Month is making it super-easy for you to make a difference in your community and be an example to other communities through its website participation channels. For example:
  • You can easily add your activities related to attendance and attendance awareness onto the Attendance Awareness Month Community Action Map.  
    By placing your attendance awareness activities on the interactive map, you'll not only boost local awareness, but encourage others nationwide to get "get on the bus" with this initiative.  Your event will show up on the map. Those who click on your map icon will be able to see the full details of your event in a pop-up info box.
  • Attendance Awareness Month is also encouraging you to send in your attendance stories or examples of the work you or your school or community is doing. This is a great way to build community pride and to give others ideas they can try in their own communities. See examples on their Community Highlights page.

Awareness via Multimedia

Let's face it – we live in a visually oriented world. Many kids in particular are growing up with multimedia as an increasing part of their education. In response to this, organizers at the Attendance Awareness Month website have created and assembled several videos to help you promote school attendance in the most entertaining way possible.

On their video page, you'll find many videos of varying length for your own edification or for parents, students, and teachers in your committee. For example:
  • View the Attendance Works: a Community Imperative six-minute video highlighting the problem of chronic absenteeism and its impact on school achievement. In this short video, you'll also get solutions and examples on how to improve the statistics in your neighborhood.
  • Check out the Attendance Works Animated Infographic - a visually engaging one-minute video animation pictorially explaining why attendance matters particularly in the early grades. 
You’ll find a dozen more helpful visual presentations on the video page, including presentations from the Ad Council, U.S. Army, and school districts across the U.S.

Awareness via Webinars

Even more engaging and interactive than videos are webinars. Join in on the ongoing schedule of free webinars – online real-time seminars – going on throughout the year. For example, you just missed the September 16 webinar on commonsense strategies to reduce chronic absenteeism, which examined the roles that state-level actions and policies play in improving school attendance. But keep an eye on the schedule to learn about and join the next one here.

School Attendance – Why it Really Matters

Chronic absence affect all students, not just those missing school. When significant numbers of students in a classroom or school are chronically absent, learning for all students is adversely affected when the pace of instruction necessarily slows down because teachers have to spend time reviewing material for those who missed the lessons in the first place.

But reducing chronic absence must be a community affair, involving parents, government agencies, faith leaders, businesses, and community nonprofits.  History shows that this is the best way to build a culture of attendance.

For true attendance success, start with you. Think about what you can do, and volunteer to help. Parents can make a big difference! For example, parents with middle school and high school children: did you know students should miss no more than 18 days of school to stay on track to graduation?  And be aware that absences are often a sign that a student is losing interest in school, struggling with school work, or even dealing with a bully.  Get tips for parents to help keep your students on track.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Friday, August 30, 2013

School -- Attend Today, Achieve Tomorrow

The stats prove it; good school attendance can make a significant and positive difference in your child’s future.  Whether for illness, family issues, or just plain truancy, research shows that missing just 10 percent of the school year – that’s just two or three days a month – is enough absenteeism to cause children to struggle academically. 

And the problem is not insignificant; 7.5 million students nationwide were chronically absent last year.  When chronic absenteeism (defined as a student who misses 10 percent – roughly 18 days of the school year) happens at the kindergarten and first grade level, statistics show that these children are unlikely to be reading proficiently by the end of third grade. 

Research also shows that, by 6th grade, missing 10 percent or more of school leads to course failure and often to dropping out at the high school level.  And at any grade school level, teachers and school administrators have learned that this 10-percent-or-greater level of absence is enough to indicate that the student is likely headed for trouble.

One positive development in the effort to improve attendance is the national Attendance Awareness Month, sponsored by the nonprofit organization Attendance Works.

Children getting on school bus

Why school attendance requires an awareness month

This alarming education crisis has been largely overlooked – something that the founders of Attendance Works are trying to change.  The goal of the organization and its school Attendance Awareness Month is to reduce absenteeism by promoting awareness of the problem and by supporting community-based solutions to reduce chronic absence at all grade levels. 

What the folks at Attendance Works are doing to make a difference

Attendance Works has already reached thousands with online tools and resources, presentations, and workshops.  As well, they maintain a media presence, educating the public about the risks of missing 10 percent of school days and how best to address this problem.

Previous successes by Attendance Works include shaping a Buffalo New York plan that reduced chronic absence by eight percent, a Los Angeles plan that resulted in 48,000 fewer absences, and an Oakland California toolkit for elementary schools designed to reduce chronic absence rates.

Their current year plans include assisting states in developing new research to expand awareness regarding chronic absence, engaging with key policymakers via a U.S. Conference of Mayors resolution, working with school superintendents to create a Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, and expanding access to school attendance tools and webinars.

What you can do to help

Yes, there is much that you can do to reduce the problem of and risks from chronic absenteeism, whether on the home front or in your broader community.  Here are five ideas to get you started:
  • Stay on your attendance toes. Sign up for Attendance Awareness Month Updates to be apprised of events and activities you can get involved in to encourage attendance. 
  • Make a difference on Facebook.  Facebook users can download an Attendance Awareness Month Cover Photo.  The photo is exactly the size you need to display it as the cover photo on your Facebook Page as a way to help spread the word about Attendance Awareness Month and show your participation.
  • Learn more by watching!  If you or your children are not likely to find the time for, or interest in, reading the stats and info about school attendance and school absenteeism, check out the 6-minute  Attendance Works video: a well made, informative, and interesting tool to help you and your kids absorb the information you need to make a difference in your family’s or your community’s school attendance.
  • Promote attendance locally at your school, library, town hall, or business by downloading school attendance posters or banners. There are large-sized posters for elementary and separate banners for middle/high school,  good to keep up year-round; the kind that can you get printed at your local Staples or FedEx Kinkos for about $50.  Or you can download and print an 11×17 inch Attendance Month flyer from your own printer – the perfect size for posting throughout the community to raise school attendance awareness.  For the workplace or library, download the attendance infographic, spelling out the facts about chronic absence in the early grades. 
  • Make a difference with your wallet.  Given all the successes of the Attendance Works organization and it’s well articulated plans for the current and future years, consider making a donation to this worthy cause.
If you’re really gung ho on making a difference, get perfect attendance with the Count Us In Toolkit, which includes info on the importance of attendance and chronic absence, ideas for community partners and coalitions, proclamations, press releases, media tools, suggestions for incentives, contests, and events, and more. Better school attendance – this could be the easiest and cheapest way for you to improve your child’s success in school and beyond.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer