Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

July 10th, 2014

New Poster, Badges to Promote Attendance

We’ve had some requests for materials that schools and communities can use to promote attendance all year round, not just during Attendance Awareness Month. So our design team created:

  •  A new poster emphasizing the importance of attendance throughout a child’s life. This can be used in schools, doctors’ offices or businesses.
  • New badges with the slogan “Attend Today, Achieve Tomorrow.” These can be turned into stickers for kids and staff or into window decals.
  • Redesigned attendance worksheets for teachers to share with parents during parent-teacher conferences.

We’ve also had several requests to add logos to our Tips for Parents handouts. If you’re interested in doing that, please follow the instructions here.

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July 1st, 2014

Bright Spot in Arkansas: Make Every Day Count

This post was originally published by the nationwide Campaign for Grade-Level Reading as one of its Bright Spot Communities.

The Arkansas Grade-Level Reading Campaign’s work to reduce the number of young students who repeatedly miss school and to increase reading proficiency is a statewide effort involving prominent state players — for good reason.

“The ultimate goal is to impact statewide policy, practice and thinking,” explains Angela Duran, the coordinator of the Arkansas campaign, which is statewide but includes five “community solutions initiative sites.”

Begun in 2013, Arkansas’s Make Every Day Count initiative to reduce chronic absencestudents missing 10 percent or more of school days for any reason — involves some of the Arkansas campaign’s more than 30 partners, including Arkansas’s education department, superintendents association, school boards association, public television station, a major foundation and a child advocacy group.

Seven school districts will pilot their own attendance effort and work together to develop a “model policy.” Three districts are in Arkansas campaign community sites — Pulaski County Special School District, outside Little Rock (suburban-rural central Arkansas); Springdale (blue-collar, mid-sized northwest Arkansas); and Marvell-Elaine (rural, small-town eastern Arkansas).

Make Every Day Count will focus on parent engagement, data collection and policy during the 2014–2015 school year. August marks Arkansas’s early start (to coincide with the start of its school year) of Attendance Awareness Month, the September event co-sponsored by Attendance Works, a national initiative addressing chronic absence and a GLR Campaign partner working directly with Arkansas.

Radio spots by three well-known Arkansans — a former boxing champ, a former professional women’s league basketball player and a comic book illustrator — will run on stations, from hip hop to country, to attract a variety of young parents. Banners, billboards and posters developed by the Arkansas campaign will be made available to districts.

“If we really want better third-grade reading achievement, we have to address chronic absence — that will be our message,” says Duran.

“If we really want better third-grade reading achievement, we have to address chronic absence.”

Data on Arkansas’s 53,000 K–3rd grade students in 2012, provided with help from the

Arkansas Department of Education, show that:

  • Chronic absence affects more than one out of 10 kindergartners and first graders.
  • Nearly half of kindergartners are chronically absent or at risk of becoming chronically absent.
  •  Chronic absence is 2.5 times higher among students from the lowest-income families.
  •  Chronic absence is three times higher among young students scoring below basic vs. advance on Arkansas’s reading assessment
  •  Nearly 80 percent of chronically absent students are in the lowest-income group and more  than half score basic or below.

Make Every Day Count’s initial engagement effort included public service announcementson the Arkansas Educational Television Network, the statewide PBS station. Then came work to gather attendance data. “We were able to break it down for the bigger schooldistricts by grade, race, meal status. For many, it was truly eye-opening,” says Duran.

Next up: analyzing the data and creating effective policy to pilot and share statewide. Arkansas’s ability to work at the state level on chronic absence — as well as other GLRareas including parent engagement, school readiness and summer learning loss — is aided by its campaign’s unusual statewide nature and abundant resources. The Arkansas campaign has a coordinator, community site capacity grants, technicalsupport and additional resources from the nonprofit Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, thanks to the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, based in Little Rock, which has long worked to move Arkansas from being ranked among the nation’s lowest performing states in education. “There can be coordination across districts that wouldn’t happen on itsown,” says Duran.

The hope is not only that the seven districts will implement new policy, expanding “on what’s already there to more intensively address chronic absence,” says Duran. If the model policy wins support from the Arkansas School Boards Association, it is more likely to spread. “It will take time but when people start having success with it and people hear about it, everyone will want to do it,” says Duran.

For more information, contact Angela Duran at 870-692-3176 or


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June 19th, 2014

New York United Way Gets $52 Million to Combat Chronic Absence

The New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) has awarded a four-year, $52 million grant to United Way of New York City (UWNYC) to fight chronic absence through its Community Schools program.  The award is the largest education grant ever given by the city to a nonprofit organization.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the “Attendance Improvement and Dropout Prevention” grant to provide social services at 40 high-needs schools. The program will be managed by the city in partnership with UWNYC and allow UWNYC to bolster resources for community-based partnerships, improving attendance rates and dropout prevention efforts for more than 40,000 New York City students over the course of the four years.

The Community Schools program offers services such as in-school mental health services, homework help and family counseling alongside classroom instruction.

Schools will submit proposals over the summer to be included in the program, with the amount of each school’s grant depending on the size of the school.

Attendance is one of the key strategies for UWNYC’s education initiatives, which aim to increase by 25% the number of youth graduating from high school ready for college, a career and citizenship by the year 2020. Over the last 20 years, UWNYC has worked hand-in-hand with the NYC DOE on improving attendance rates and preventing dropouts in the public schools.

Over  the last seven years, UWNYC’s attendance improvement and dropout prevention programs benefitted more than 45,000 students across the city, giving students an attendance advantage of 8.5 days over their peers, adding up to more than 24,000 additional days of learning. Importantly, Black and Hispanic male students were as likely to improve attendance as all other participants, closing the attendance gap for black and Hispanic boys.

Community-based organizations, schools and anyone interested in more information can contact United Way of New York City at

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