Attendance Works News
February 9th, 2017
As America’s leading school wear brand, French Toast knows businesses have a lot to gain from supporting student attendance. In the long term, students who get to school every day on time will carry the habit into the workforce and will have learned the academic skills needed to thrive and compete in the workforce. In the short term, when young children miss school, parents are more likely to miss work.
French Toast also knew that investing in this issue would have a positive impact on students, schools and families. For the past two years, the uniform brand has put this knowledge to work by supporting attendance in elementary schools.
French Toast’s commitment illustrates how a business can really make a difference in student’s lives, especially when it invests in attendance over time.
In 2014 French Toast piloted its Perfect Attendance Program (see this video) for elementary schools to provide incentive programs for attending school. The brand started small by adopting a 3rd grade class at Judy Hajek Elementary in Burleson, Texas. Students were offered free uniforms, school breakfast (including French Toast, of course!), and a college savings account for students with perfect attendance. At the end of the year, half (11 out of 22) of the students in the class had perfect attendance!
Shelly Vanover, the 3rd grade teacher at Hajek Elementary, found that the French Toast incentive program not only encouraged the children to be better students, it also allowed her to stick with her curriculum. “When the students are not here I have to pull them aside and get them caught up. But they are also missing out on what was there that day when they were not there. So, it is a lot of re-teaching and catching up,” Vanover says.
The 50 percent jump in attendance was remarkable, especially compared with the prior year, when just a few students in the school had perfect attendance at Hajek. And it was much greater than the brand had imagined.
“We were interested in seeing how the program could create a positive culture of attendance in a school, and the results were phenomenal,” says Matthew Buesing, Director of Marketing, LT Apparel Group. After success at Hajek, the uniform brand wanted to expand its support to more schools and classrooms.
French Toast reached out to Attendance Works in 2015 for help developing a more scalable program offering incentives and praising students for attendance.
This revised Perfect Attendance Program includes incentive and contest ideas to recognize perfect and improved attendance. Schools that fill out an application to participate receive posters and other signage to reinforce the importance of attending school every day. Each month French Toast sponsors a uniform drawing and rewards winners with a free uniform (two tops and one bottom).
Attendance Works also helped the brand decide what type of data to collect from the schools to track each student’s daily attendance. At the end of the academic year, French Toast provides an “A+ breakfast” to each school that successfully reported its attendance data throughout the year. The students love the breakfast, and their parent appreciate the new uniforms!
Three additional schools—one each in New York City, Grand Rapids, Michigan and Arkansas—joined the incentive program in 2015-16.
Buesing admits that supporting schools with an attendance incentive program can have some challenges. Strong teacher support is the missing puzzle piece. “If the teachers are involved the kids want to be involved,” Buesing says. French Toast’s attendance program has evolved so the approach shouldn’t be seen as a burden by teachers.
The brand remains committed to supporting strong attendance in schools. “When we approached Attendance Works in 2015, we asked for their assistance in shaping the program. Thanks to their help, French Toast will work with 10 schools in the 2016-17 school year with the hope of adding 5-10 schools each school year,” Buesing says.
“We could have never imagined that the partnership would flourish into the program we have today. Together, we hope this program builds a foundation for each student’s future by teaching them how being present in school will lead to success in their future as well,” Buesing adds.
Find out more about French Toast on its website:
February 1st, 2017
Chronic absenteeism in kindergarten, and even pre-K, can predict lower test scores, repeated patterns of poor attendance and retention in later grades, especially if the problem persists for more than a year. Students from low-income communities are especially challenged by chronic absence when their families have fewer resources to make up for lost learning time.
Our new toolkit, Relationships Matter, is designed to help school districts establish a success mentoring program focused on attendance in elementary grades. The toolkit builds upon the ideas and resources from a number of national partners, especially MENTOR: The National Mentoring Project, Everyone Graduates Center, the New York Department of Education, and the Center for Supportive Schools.
It also draws from the trailblazing work of a growing number of local efforts, including districts participating in the groundbreaking My Brother’s Keeper Success Mentors initiative, announced in 2016 by the White House and the US Department of Education (ED). To support these efforts, ED launched the National Student Attendance, Engagement, and Success Center (NSAEC) to provide technical assistance nationwide for strategies that prevent and address chronic absenteeism.
“For our social and economic strength, we must make sure that young people who need mentoring most are connected with those relationships,” says David Shapiro, CEO and President, MENTOR. “Chronic absenteeism offers a warning sign of disconnection and calls us to intervene with mentoring by consistent adults who can partner with school and home to provide the support, guidance, and encouragement proven to drive greater attendance. We are proud to partner with Attendance Works on this toolkit.”
Relationship Matter’s tools and resources can encourage good attendance in elementary grades by supporting your district’s efforts to:
- Launch an elementary success mentor strategy using seven key steps
- Define and develop the role of a success mentor, with seven key elements drawn from the experience of the New York City Department of Education
- Invest time in the recruitment, screening, matching, training and support for the adults who will serve as success mentors
- Support the development of a principal led team that oversees attendance, the success mentor strategy and a school-wide effort for family engagement and attendance messaging, and
- Gain support for the success mentor strategy that can ensure this program can go to scale and be sustained over time.
Click here to find the toolkit.
Download and print the Executive Summary
December 21st, 2016
Researchers from Arizona State University wanted to find out which factors might negatively impact a student’s ability to read by third grade. The answer for students in Arizona was clear: good attendance makes a real difference.
The research is associated with Read On Arizona, a statewide public and private partnership aimed at boosting language and literacy skills for children from birth through age eight. The team used data from a variety of sources and an average chronic absent rate of 10 percent for schools statewide. The study found that for a 1 percent increase in third grade attendance rates, there is an average increase of 1.5 percent of students passing the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) third grade reading test at the school-level in 2013-2014.
On the other hand, for a 1 percent increase in chronic absenteeism (i.e. the percentage of students who miss 18 or more days in a given school year), there is an average decrease of 0.3 percent of students passing third grade AIMS reading, they found.
The researchers wrote about their analysis in a blog post for the Brookings Institution. While the data in this study are specific to Arizona, many of the challenges faced by Arizona are similar in states across the country. For example, in 2015, 38 percent of students in fourth grade fell below basic reading levels on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, placing the state only 6 percent below the national average, they wrote in the blog.
“Policymakers and practitioners are often faced with a variety of choices when it comes to ensuring that students reach their full academic potential,” the researchers wrote. “Although this seems intuitive, our analysis suggests that for those looking to improve student learning, particularly as it relates to literacy, increasing attendance rates may be critical first step.”
Find the full blog post here.
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