Attendance Works News

July 14th, 2017

Educators respond to immigration policies

Educators in states across the country are seeing that current immigration policy changes are leading to increased chronic absence. As a way to reassure parents and students that school is a safe place for learning, states, districts and schools have posted resources as a way to encourage immigrant students to continue getting to school every day. We’ve collected a few for you.

Resources range from letters sent to school communities and families reaffirming anti-discrimination polices, to toolkits with tips for dealing with anxious students, to videos for parents on how to communicate with their young children on topics that are particularly difficult to tackle, such as bullying. Watch this video, in Spanish with English subtitles, from Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors.

Many districts offer fact sheets with answers to questions such as, ‘What impact does undocumented immigration status have on my child’s education?’ and ‘If I am a parent or guardian and I am worried about being detained while my child is at school, what should I do?’

Educators are careful when clarifying that the resources aren’t meant to express a particular political belief or viewpoint. The Contra Costa County Office of Education‘s Communications Department, for example, noted that the resources on its website are provided as “a helpful tool in communicating the message of compassion and support for students so that they know they are safe and can continue to learn, lead and achieve to the best of their abilities.”

We know that 6.8 million students were chronically absent in the 2013-14 school year. Studies show that missing just 10 percent or more of school – just two days per month – predicts lower levels of numeracy and literacy by third grade, class failure in middle school and higher likelihood of high school dropout. It also indicates that students will have lower levels of persistence in college.

“We are hearing about immigrant families being so fearful that they don’t want to send their kids to school,” says Hedy N. Chang, executive director of Attendance Works. “Being in class every day is critical for academic achievement. We know that all students are more likely to come to school, and parents are more likely to take their kids to school, when they feel their school is a safe place for learning.”

In states such as California, with the most diverse population in the country, as well as Connecticut and New York, state education chiefs released letters committing to protect student privacy, to educate all students regardless of immigration status and offering educators guidance on how to proceed. “My strongest commitment to you, your students and their families is that schools remain safe places to learn,” California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson wrote in a letter to local educational agencies (LEAs).

District superintendents sent letters to reassure families and students. And school boards adopted resolutions limiting the ability of immigration agents to enter campuses and the collection of information about immigration status. In one example, Superintendent Nancy Sarra of Consolidated School district of New Britain, Connecticut sent a letter pledging support for New Britain’s immigrant and refugee students and their families.

Here is a sampling of school district resources designed to inform teachers, immigrant families and students about their legal rights:

Other organizations have resources and information about services available to immigrant and refugee families affected by policy changes. Here is a sample:

Check out the websites of local and state educators in your community to find out what resources are available!

Posted in Featured Article, State News | Comments Off on Educators respond to immigration policies

July 6th, 2017

Webinar: Supporting our Most Vulnerable Students

Often students who miss 9-7 days per semester, (or 10 percent or more of days) face serious hurdles in getting to school, such as ongoing health concerns, lack of a safe path to school or bullying. These students might also be involved in foster care or the juvenile justice system and could be experiencing factors beyond their control.

Teachers and other educators aren’t expected to address these complex needs on their own. Instead, they need to know how to join with other staff, and tap into the resources and supports offered in order to make a greater impact in improving attendance for these vulnerable students.

Join Hedy Chang, executive director of Attendance Works, and a cross-section of speakers for The Secret Formula 1+2+3: Improving Attendance for Our Most Vulnerable Students, on 2 pm ET on August 8* as they discuss how to lay the foundation for a positive culture of attendance for all students by providing a warm and engaging start to the school year. Speakers will also address how educators can work across agencies to ensure additional supports for our most vulnerable students, including those who are living in public housing, involved in the foster care system, or are exposed to trauma.

Presenters include:

  • Ayeola Fortune, United Way Worldwide
  • Dr. Martha Merchant, University of California, San Francisco
  • Silvia Cordero, San Francisco Unified School District
  • Janet Meeks, Delray Beach School District
  • Minsun Meeker, National Center for Youth Law’s FosterEd CA
  • and Hedy Chang, Attendance Works

This webinar will also feature the newest resources from Attendance Works including our teacher toolkit, Teaching Attendance 2.0 with new messaging materials, and the indispensable Attendance Awareness Month resource Count Us In! toolkit.

Don’t miss out on this free webinar! Register here.

* Special Note: We are likely to exceed the webinar room capacity of 500! Please note that once you register you will receive the webinar recording, PowerPoint slides and other materials whether you attend or not. You might consider organizing a separate session to watch with a group using the recording and discussion guide. Guests are welcome to log in 15 minutes prior to the beginning of the webinar.

Posted in Elementary, Health, Secondary | Comments Off on Webinar: Supporting our Most Vulnerable Students

June 16th, 2017

AAC awards honor community-wide attendance, early reading success

Fifteen communities located across the country have been recognized for their efforts to boost attendance, improve grade-level reading proficiency and student success among low-income families. Honored with an All-America City Award (AAC), each community made progress by engaging families and collaborating with local educators, government, business, faith and philanthropy organizations.

The AAC Awards were presented during Grade-Level Reading Week in Denver, Colorado, a multi-day event that includes peer-learning workshops, presentations from AAC finalists, panel discussions and cultural showcases. Attendance Works helped organize several sessions, including a mini-plenary for funders on leveraging the Every Student Succeeds Act to address chronic absence, and three workshops.

The 2017 AAC Awards are sponsored by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and the National Civic League (NCL), which created the program 68 years ago. The awards are designed to shine a spotlight on trail-blazing efforts to bring all aspects of the community together to tackle the most pressing local issue, according to NCL.

“We applaud the ’big tent’ coalitions in these award-winning communities. They put a stake in the ground around third-grade reading and made some ‘big bets’ to improve the odds for early school success,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “Those big bets are paying off in more hopeful futures for so many vulnerable children in these communities.”

Communities are judged on efforts to improve attendance, school readiness and summer learning and that increase the number of students reading at grade level. Each of the fifteen winning communities had measurable progress in reducing chronic absence. You can read a summary of each community’s achievements on the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s website.

Some highlights include:

  • Springdale, Arkansas
    The percentage of first graders at Monitor Elementary School who were chronically absent decreased from 24 percent in 2012–13 to 10 percent in 2015–16. The percentage of third grade students who were reading at grade level increased from 35 percent in 2012–13 to 36.5 percent in 2015–16.
  • Stockton-San Joaquin County, California
    Countywide efforts to raise awareness of attendance-related issues led to a reduction of chronic absenteeism from 9 percent to 6.9 percent. Similarly, the number of low-income third graders who were reading at grade level increased from 20 percent in 2015 to 23 percent in 2016.
  • New Britain, Connecticut
    From 2013 to 2016, the percentage of low-income first-grade students who were chronically absent dropped from 25.1 percent in 2011–12 to 13.3 percent in 2015–16. New Britain also saw an increase from 35.7 percent in spring 2014 to 45.7 percent in spring 2016 in the percentage of second-grade students achieving reading proficiency.
  • Delray Beach, Florida
    Between 2011–12 and 2015–16, the percentage of low-income K–3 children who were chronically absent was reduced from 6.54 percent to 2.1 percent. In addition, Delray Beach saw an increase of 22 percent over two years in the number of low-income children reading proficiently.

In addition to the above winners, AAC awards were presented to communities in:

  • Suncoast (Manatee & Sarasota Counties), Florida
    Des Moines, Iowa
    Dubuque, Iowa
    Springfield, Massachusetts
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Montgomery County-Dayton, Ohio
    Lane County, Oregon
    San Antonio, Texas
    Roanoke, Virginia

“So many communities are doing a great job in using collaborative efforts to improve grade-level reading that it was hard to select this year’s award winners,” said Doug Linkhart, president of the National Civic League. “This year’s All-America Cities are engaging a diverse cross-section of residents, businesses, nonprofits and other stakeholders in the grade-level reading effort, which will help sustain their achievements over time.”

Posted in Elementary | Comments Off on AAC awards honor community-wide attendance, early reading success

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