September 29th, 2012
Prek, K Attendance Improves with Baltimore Contest
Recognizing that chronic absence starts early, Baltimore’s mayor and school district began the school year with a month-long attendance contest aimed squarely at pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students. Under the rules, the school that showed the most improvement over the previous year took home a $1,000 grant and won a day for its students at a children’s museum.
The winner, announced Friday, was Westside Elementary School where preK and K attendance shot up from 89 percent last year to 95 percent this fall.
‘Attendance is an ongoing focus for our school so winning the first Mayor’s Attendance Campaign competition is tremendous – because it recognizes the hard work of our students, teachers and families,” Westside Elementary principal Brian Pluim said.
And how is Westside going to spend its $1,000 grant from Comcast?
Extra school uniforms.
“We don’t want uniforms to be the reason students miss school, and we want to give parents the support they need to get their children to school, every day – no matter what,” Pluim said.
The attendance competition, the first of several planned this year in Baltimore, is just one piece of the city’s efforts to reduce absences at all grade levels. A contest starting in October will reward the school with the most improved attendance among elementary school students.
“The first competition focused on pre-k and kindergarten students because that’s when children and families start forming school attendance habits,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “We want our students to know that attendance is important and that showing up every day is essential for academic success and bright futures.”
One in four Baltimore kindergarten students misses a month of school, and research in the city shows that these absences can set a pattern leading to academic struggles in the later grades. During the summer, canvassers conducted a door-to-door campaign in targeted neighborhoods to ensure that 5-year-olds would be present on the first day of kindergarten.
Baltimore City Public Schools’ Every Day Counts campaign provides consistent messaging about the importance of attendance, including quotes from students of all ages explaining why they show up for school every day.
“Making sure every student is in school every day is absolutely essential, and it is something we all have a role in helping make happen,” said Andres Alonso, Baltimore school chief and one of the superintendents who has joined our Superintendents Call to Action, which we’re doing jointly with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
The next Mayor’s Attendance Campaign competition will award the elementary school with the greatest increase in attendance with a holiday party including Baltimore Raven football players and presents for students and families, along with a $1,000 grant for the school.
The attendance campaign is a partnership between the mayor’s office, Baltimore City Public Schools, the Mayor’s Youth Cabinet, and the Family League of Baltimore City, along with Healthy City Days, Monte Sanders’ Fit Families, Under Amour, and Comcast.
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