March 22nd, 2013

New Britain Strategies Improve Kindergarten Attendance

A focus on parent engagement and messaging has brought kindergarten absenteeism rates in New Britain, Conn., down by 30 percent in the past year, part of an overall reduction in chronic absence district-wide.

The percentage of kindergartners missing 10 percent or more of school days dropped from 30 percent in the past school year to 21 percent so far this year. “We’ve put most of our resources and work on parent engagement into the kindergarten level because getting to them early is so important,” said Joe Vaverchak, New Britain’s director of attendance. “It’s working.”

Through a grant from the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain, the school district hired two part-time workers who meet with parents and monitor absenteeism for kindergartners.

Attendance Works, which has worked closely with the district, this week presented New Britain with a commendation for its efforts to date, noting the community reduced chronic absenteeism  despite snowstorms and hurricanes.  Attendance Works also is partnering with the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Foundation and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading to bring together a select number of districts across Connecticut to analyze their chronic absence data and learn from the New Britain experience.

Here’s some news coverage from the event:


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