- Share your stories. How are you getting out the word about Attendance Awareness Month? We’d love to hear your stories! Whether you are running PSAs, hosting a poster contest or have published an op-ed, please send us your best examples and photos for the chance to be featured by Attendance Works on this page and on social media. Email your stories, examples and photos to Lauren Gentile at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Up, Up, and Attend” is the clever catch phrase for Dubuque, Iowa’s Super Hero-themed attendance awareness campaign, focused on elementary school students. Seventy-four GLR communities participated in the month. Ten communities are in states where the governor signed a state-level Attendance Awareness Month proclamation!
Pulling out their “secret decoder rings,” the Dubuque Community School District and the community’s GLR campaign teamed up to launch the campaign as the kickoff for Attendance Awareness Month in September. Efforts ranged from billboards to a competition at elementary schools between classrooms vying to have the best attendance. (The winner gets a pizza party or other prize.)
The campaign bounces off of last year’s wins, when chronic absence was reduced from seven percent to two percent and the number of students attending school 98 percent of the time rose from 22 percent to 24 percent. This followed work during the 2012-2013 school year that included piloting several best practices in one of the district’s most at-risk elementary schools. The school’s principal, the district’s attendance committee, and school administrators implemented an intervention process that catches attendance issues, used a Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque grant to implement an attendance pilot program, and tested best practices, policies, and programs that have worked in other schools.
This academic year, those best practices, policies, and programs will be rolled out to scale in all of the district’s 13 elementary schools. Campaign promotional material was funded by Dubuque’s Every Child/Every Promise effort, as part of the community’s GLR campaign, and billboard space was provided by an area advertising firm. The word is now out: Superman and kryptonite don’t go together. Neither should kids and missing school.
For students at H. Ligarde Elementary School in Laredo, Texas, the message about good attendance is in the bag!
Well, actually, it’s ON the bag.
The brown paper grocery bag, to be exact.
In partnership with the local H-E-B grocery store, the staff at H. Ligarde Elementary coordinated a “paper bag decorating” contest to encourage students to get the message out that they care about good attendance.
Students at each grade level – pre-K through fifth-grade – participated in decorating bags. For the lower levels (pre-K to second-grade), students competed as a class. For the upper levels (third-grade through fifth-grade), students submitted individual entries.
Students decorated their bags with messages such as, “We are cool because we go to school!” and “To win you go!”
The grocery store donated the brown paper bags for decorating, and the students are returning them decorated for use in bagging customers’ groceries.
“The community will be able to read the attendance messages this way,” said Patricia Esqueda-Avina, a school counselor at H. Ligarde Elementary.
The school has also highlighted Attendance Awareness Month on its website http://ligardees.elisd.org/ with a message to parents.
Las Vegas, Nev.
At a recent news conference, Mayor Carolyn Goodman presented a proclamation to designate September as Attendance Awareness Month. She was joined by Clark County School District Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky, David Flatt of the Nevada PTA and Cass Palmer, president and chief executive officer of the United Way of Southern Nevada.
“Good attendance is essential to student achievement and graduation, and the city is committed to dedicating its resources and attention to reducing chronic absenteeism rates, with a focus starting as early as kindergarten,” Goodman said in pledging her support.
Las Vegas is a Campaign for Grade-Level Reading community.
Arkansas is just beginning its work on chronic absence and used Attendance Awareness Month as an opportunity to educate parents and policymakers about the extent of the problem in the state and how regular school attendance is critical to student success.
The Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (AR-GLR) and the Arkansas Educational Television Network, a statewide PBS station, released a public service announcement on attendance that is being aired by AETN during their children’s programming.
The Arkansas School Boards Association published an article, “Making Every Day Count” in their quarterly Report Card magazine that goes out to every school board member in every school district in the state as well as most superintendents and many other education stakeholders.
Delray Beach, FL
Delray Mayor Cary Glickstein and the City Commission have issued a proclamation to designate September as Attendance Awareness Month, and the mayor will be visiting schools to encourage students to attend school regularly. The city also is providing a unified Attendance certificate so each school can honor students during the school year.
The local Chamber of Commerce helped kick off the campaign last month with a back-to-school breakfast for principals and new teachers. At the breakfast, each principal was given a $400 gift card to purchase incentives, with a request that they seek matching funds from their PTA to start the program at their school.
In addition, each school receives 1,000 badges with the local slogan, “Rise and Shine Get the School on Time.” These badges can be used on social media networks and other outreach efforts to help raise awareness about good attendance.
The city is also providing each school with a YouTube “jingle” of the slogan created by the School of the Arts to use during morning announcements.
San Antonio, TX
The P16Plus Council of Greater Bexar County is partnering with SA2020 and San Antonio leaders – including Mayor Julian Castro – as well as schools and local nonprofit organizations to celebrate the first ever citywide Attendance Awareness Month.
Recently, Councilman Rey Saldana read the City Council’s Proclamation that recognizes the month of September as “Attendance Awareness Month” at an event that also launched P16Plus’ new attendance awareness initiative, “SA Kids Attend to Win.” Through this initiative, the P16Plus Council of Greater Bexar County will track data on chronic non-attending children to help improve educational outcomes for the children of San Antonio, which is a Campaign for Grade-Level Reading community.
“This is the first time in our city’s history that an attendance campaign will be measured using data gathered from the school districts by a single organization in a systematic fashion,” stated Judy K. McCormick, executive director of the P16Plus Council. “It will take the input and assistance of the 25+ organizations that make up our Attendance Awareness Coalition to ensure that we do a thorough job.”
Schools Superintendent Brian Gottardy shared improved attendance results from a two-year attendance pilot study led by P16Plus and supported by participating school districts and Communities in Schools of San Antonio. This fact sheet at P16Plus’ website provides additional details.
The P16Plus Council will host events throughout the year to stress the importance of good attendance.
The “SA Kids Attend to Win” campaign is a compelling example of how communities can rally around an attendance campaign. Among nearly 30 participating partners are the Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas, City of San Antonio Head Start, City of San Antonio Department of Human Services, San Antonio Youth Literacy, and Eastside Promise Neighborhoods.
Palm Beach County, FL
With a room full of mayors and city commissioners from 38 municipalities, the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County focused on attendance today during its sixth annual Mayors’ Literacy Luncheon to help raise awareness about efforts to reduce chronic absenteeism. The Literacy Coalition has collaborated with the mayors and officials as part of its involvement with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
Hedy Chang, director of Attendance Works, delivered the keynote address during the event, which was held in partnership with the Palm Beach County League of Cities. Also in attendance were 25 members of the Florida Philanthropic Network. The Patterson Foundation sponsored the network’s participation.
During her visit to the district, Chang also met with area superintendents and other key school district administrators to discuss how to further involve local schools in reducing chronic absenteeism. The Palm Beach County school district is the country’s 11th largest.
The Children’s Services Council, in partnership with the Literacy Coalition, has assembled a steering committee involving the school district, libraries, the United Way, the League of Cities and local businesses to implement a three-year strategy to expand the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading countywide. On Sept. 23, the steering committee is launching a web site, PBCReads.org, and will be distributing new books to each child in elementary schools throughout the county.
In addition, Palm Beach County School District Superintendent Wayne Gent has signed the Attendance Works Call to Action indicating a commitment to focusing on attendance solutions. The district has will mark October as Attendance Awareness Month throughout its system using the slogan, “You Must Be Present to Win!” This will appear on school marquees, websites and will be a part of calls to parents.
Amid a festive atmosphere that included a Native American wild rice meal and arts and crafts sessions, Bug O Nay Ge Shig School in Bena, Minn., recently welcomed families and students to its Open House. The primary theme of the event was the importance of attending school regularly.
Parents visited informational booths that included materials about the profound effect of missing too much school in kindergarten and first grade, which physical symptoms and illnesses indicate that the child should stay home, and tips for encouraging teens to attend school. Crystal Redgrave, interim superintendent, presented information about Native education and explained school policies to parents.
A special “Attendance Awareness” table provided opportunities for parents to view videos from the Attendance Works website. Especially popular with parents were magnets printed with the school’s toll-free phone number, which means parents won’t have to pay long distance charges to notify the school that their child will be home ill, said Becky Rittenour, the school’s truancy prevention specialist.
School officials provided transportation to ensure as many parents as possible from across the district could attend the Open House.
Bug O Nay Ge Shig School is a magnet school that serves Native American students living on or near Leech Lake Reservation. The school serves more than 200 students of various tribal backgrounds.
Have you ever wanted to broadcast your news from a billboard for the world to see?
In Paterson, N.J., school district leaders are doing just that for the rest of September to declare their commitment to improving attendance for the system’s 30,000 students.
CBS Outdoor of Fairfield, N.J., donated a billboard campaign that launched this week with an electronic billboard – in English and Spanish – along busy eastbound Route 80 eastbound. The company’s general manager, Jon Antal, has committed to erecting two “paper” billboards next week that will remain posted for the rest of the month.
“Thousands of people will see these billboards every day,” says Cheryl D. Coy, interim manager of nontraditional programs, which includes overseeing the district’s attendance initiatives and summer programming. “We want people to know we’re taking attendance seriously. That is our focal point this year.”
Route 80, between Paterson and Elmwood Park, N.J., is a main thoroughfare that connects the state to Pennsylvania and Delaware. It is a primary route for thousands of commuters each day.
In addition to the billboard campaign, Paterson’s attendance awareness efforts include:
- A backpack drive, where 9,000 backpacks that were donated to students included handouts on attendance
- Schools are displaying the billboard design in their buildings
- At back-to-school nights planned for later this month, teachers and administrators will be stressing the importance of regular attendance
- Schools are handing out the Attendance Work toolkit
Coy’s work this year will include collaborating with principals across the district’s 54 schools to identify students who are beginning to show signs of chronic absence.
“We are targeting students beginning now so we can have conversations with parents to say, ‘We notice a pattern and we want to know what can we do to help’ your child get to school every day,” Coy says.
Coy’s attendance team includes an attendance coordinator, an attendance secretary and about 26 truancy officers.
In Ogden, Utah, students are hitting ‘em out of the park on attendance!
Students with 100 percent attendance during the past school year and for the first two weeks of the new school year were recently
rewarded with free admission to an Ogden Raptors baseball. In addition to attending the minor league game for free, students were given a fan foam finger, a pretzel and a drink to enjoy.
The Ogden School District partnered with the Ogden School Foundation to arrange the baseball outing as part of their recognition of Attendance Awareness Month. Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell presented a joint proclamation (between the city and the district) on the importance of being in school every day.
As part of Attendance Awareness Month, an Ogden “Raptor” visited Ogden schools to encourage students to maintain regular attendance and focus on their schooling. Read more in this Standard-Examiner Story.
Connecticut U.S. Sen. Christopher Murphy recently visited Burns Latino Studies Academy in Hartford, Conn., to help launch Attendance Awareness Month during a school attendance briefing that was planned to discuss strategies aimed at reducing absenteeism.
“There’s nothing more important than making sure that kids show up for school,” Murphy said during his remarks. “All of the improvements that Hartford is making, all of the progress that you have been making in terms of improving test scores, in terms of building new, innovative curriculums in your schools – it doesn’t matter if the kids aren’t in their seats to learn.”
Murphy encouraged local educators – including Burns Latino Studies Academy’s principal, Monica Brase, who is in her second year as head of the school – to continue the important work of getting more children to attend school every day because the nation’s future depends on more students graduating ready for college and careers to compete in an increasingly global economy.
Chronic absenteeism stood at 50 percent at Burns Latino Studies Academy when she joined the staff two years ago, Brase said. This past school year, it was down to 42.7 percent. She noted the progress, but underscored that more work is needed.
Several students at the briefing noted that changes in the school’s culture and climate have gone a long way toward encouraging them to attend school more regularly.
Jennifer Colon, a seventh-grader, talked about how the hallways are much calmer and inviting these days.
“There used to be screaming, arguing and fighting,” she said. “This year, more people are getting along. You feel a better mood. You don’t have to worry about going to school and getting into a fight.”
She said a key difference is that teachers are more inclined to help students resolve disputes.
Joel Oyola, an eighth-grader, said students feel more engaged and supported. For example, he said, students get to help plan field trips and outings for hikes and camping.
As part of the briefing, state schools superintendent Christina M. Kishimoto presented a proclamation from Gov. Dannel Malloy in support of Attendance Awareness Month.
Kansas City, Mo.
Kansas City, Mo. Mayor Sly James recently joined educators, members of the business community, civic leaders, local elected officials and even some local celebrities – including George Brett, Kevin Uhlich and Sluggerrr (the team mascot) of the Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball team; Keith Cash, Bill Chapin, and KC Wolf of the Kansas City Chiefs, the city’s National Football League team – to raise awareness of the connection between school attendance and academic achievement at a press conference in recognition of Attendance Awareness Month.
In addition to the press conference, Mayor James issued a proclamation is highlighting the importance of school attendance on social media throughout the month using the hash tag, “#attendanceworksKC.”
In Kansas City, a Grade-Level Reading community, 33 percent of third graders are reading at grade level. To move the needle on grade-level reading, the Turn the Page KC initiative is using a multifaceted, collaborative approach to raising literacy.
Springfield, Mass., will launch its Attendance Awareness Month activities Sept. 9 with a “Stay in School Summit.” The summit will build on the city’s Stay in School campaign and formally launch strategies for the 2013-2014 school year. The summit will feature a public education and awareness component, including a national speaker, Sue Fothergill of Attendance Works, visiting to emphasize the importance of attendance to school achievement, the launch of a city-wide attendance competition and an “Attendance Cup” for the school with the best attendance record.
Stay in School Campaign Tool Kits will also be distributed. Later in the day, a Stay in School rally for students and families will feature entertainment, refreshments and opportunities for networking.
The campaign’s efforts are already paying off. The four-year high school graduation rate in Springfield increased from just over 52 percent in 2011 to more than 56.5 percent during the 2011-12 school year.
In Cleveland, the Literacy Cooperative, in partnership with United Way of Greater Cleveland, have mobilized a community coalition of local nonprofit organizations to get out the word about Attendance Awareness Month and the city’s commitment to making sure children are in school every day!
As part of the effort:
– Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson and the Cuyahoga County Executive Edward FitzGerald issued a proclamation declaring September as Attendance Awareness Month to stress the importance of good school attendance.
– Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon declared his support for the initiative.
In addition, the coalition provided several resources for the community, such as:
– Developing an Attendance Toolkit for community organizations: http://bit.ly/18AxmYP.
– Designing and distributing flyers with helpful hints for parents and caregivers at back-to-school events in three Cleveland neighborhoods.
– Creating refrigerator magnets with the tagline, In School, On Time, Every Day! that include important phone numbers to city school departments that can assist parents in addressing attendance barriers such as transportation, school uniforms and student services.
– Purchasing attendance banners for several Investment Schools in both English and Spanish to support in-school attendance initiatives.
Austin, Texas employers, associations and community groups are helping to spread the word that Missing School Matters at a kickoff at IBC Bank to be held on September 4th in conjunction with Attendance Awareness Month. Sponsored by the E3 Alliance, together with the Austin Area Research Organization (AARO), the event will feature Dr. Meria Carstarphen, superintendent of the Austin Independent School District, and Susan Dawson, president and executive director of E3 Alliance. Austin is a Campaign for Grade-Level Reading community.
In Central Texas, students miss a combined 2.4 million class days per year, which particularly affects low-income students. For this area, an increase in student attendance by just three days would add up to $34 million in additional funding for schools in the region.
Attendees will learn about the Get Schooled Central Texas Fall Attendance Challenge, get a tool kit with messages, flyers, articles and ideas to help spread the word about keeping kids in school and network with other business and community leaders on how to boost attendance.
Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert today is declaring September to be Attendance Awareness Month in the state during a visit to the Orem elementary school that he attended as a child.
In partnership with Voices for Utah Children’s Every Day Counts! campaign, the governor will tour the school and address the student body, sharing his message about the importance of attendance. During his visit, the governor will adopt the declaration supporting efforts statewide to communicate to parents and students that absences, in all grades, quickly add up to academic trouble. The Utah cities of Midvale, Ogden, Salt Lake and Sandy have also declared September to be Attendance Awareness Month.
Governor Herbert has recorded a message urging parents and students to make every day count. Voices for Utah’s Children also produced an attendance awareness public service announcement in Spanish and English featuring REAL Salt Lake player Sebastian Vasquez from the city’s Major League Soccer team.
Tracy Gruber, policy analyst for Voices for Utah Children, published an op-ed on August 31 about boosting attendance — particularly for kindergarten students, who have the highest proportion of chronic absenteeism — in the Salt Lake Tribune. She was also interviewed on KSL’s Weekend Edition (see the third segment), promoting Attendance Awareness Month.
A 2012 study released by the University of Utah Education Policy Center found that 13.5 percent of Utah students are chronically absent, missing at least 10 percent of the school year.
You can watch the PSAs here:
REAL Salt Lake PSA’s
30 second combined Spanish and English: http://youtu.be/7SMduwj8l6I
15 second English: http://youtu.be/RawF8T0iT8U
15 second Spanish: http://youtu.be/4hSqFxs3cZc
Message from Governor Herbert
William Bilyak (left), Truancy Counselor for the Vernon, Ct. Board of Education and Oz Ramos, Youth Counselor for Vernon Youth Services are seen here at the attendance booth they set up at the Vernon National Night Out (VNNO) on 8-6-13. At VNNO, Bilyak and Ramos handed out flyers from the Attendance Works website and Vernon Youth Services also purchased 100 alarm clocks for the event which were handed out to students with known chronic attendance issues if they visited the booth. Everyone that did stop by received a colored school calendar, a magnet to post it on their fridge and flyers about the importance of attending school every day.
On August 27 in Ames, Iowa, Mayor Ann Campbell declared September as Attendance Awareness Month before a packed room of students, administrators and school board members! Check out their declaration at left.
The Child First Authority Community School Coordinators are working hard with their schools to spread the Back to School message to students living within their communities. The Community School Coordinator team worked with CFA Organizers, teachers, Baltimore City Public Schools Network staff, community partners, parents, and students from August 12-August 19th to help spread the message that all City Schools will start school on August 26th, 2013 and students should attend “All Day Every Day.” School teams from Bay-Brook Elementary Middle School, John Eager Howard Elementary School, Westside Elementary School, City Springs Elementary Middle School, Calvin Rodwell Elementary School, and Hilton Elementary School knocked on over 1,000 doors to spread the Back to School Message!
In Waterbury, CT, these attendance bookmarks were handed out to students and parents at their Back to School Rally on August 21. Mayor O’Leary and Dr. Ouellette will also be sending out a press release, putting messages on Facebook, and recording messages to go to families encouraging school attendance.