The Attendance Gap
Too many children from low-income families miss too many days of school. Research has found that among low-income kids in the US, two in 10 missed more than 18 days of school. These students can ill-afford to lose time on task, especially in the early years when reading instruction is a central part of the curriculum.
During the 2012-2013 school year, with the support of the Campaign, the Dubuque Community School District implemented a pilot program aimed at reducing chronic absenteeism at one of its Title I schools, Fulton Elementary. Strategies that helped parents, teachers and students understand their role in reducing chronic absence were implemented and the school saw a drop from 7% to 2% in chronic absence.
The district started tracking chronic absence at the district level during the 2013-2014 school year and was able to establish baseline data to measure progress in the future.
Regular communication through school newsletters, parent letters, posters and events has been used to increase awareness of the importance of regular attendance in Dyersville.
Dyersville Elementary has started tracking chronic absenteeism data for each student and the school works diligently to address the causes of absenteeism. Attendance contracts have been an efficient way of monitoring attendance and schoolwide efforts and concentration have helped to promote a culture in which students know they will be held accountable for their attendance.
Early in the Campaign, each of the school districts began initiatives that highlighted the importance of school attendance. Programs include student and family goal setting, good attendance recognition, school assemblies focusing on the importance of attendance, and implementing a more comprehensive system for attendance data analysis.