Chronic absence is defined as missing 10 percent or more of total school days. In a 180 day school year, a student who is considered chronically absent is missing 18 or more days, that includes excused and unexcused absences.
Chronic absence affects student performance in school and has been used as a predictor of high school graduation. If students aren’t in school they are missing out on significant learning opportunities.
At Guadalupe, we understand the importance of attendance, so during the 2016 School Year we focused on improving attendance at Guadalupe School!
In 2015 we were really struggling to keep on top of our attendance issues. We had 33 kids who were chronically absent with their total days missed numbering close to 1000 (951 total absences that’s over 28 days per kid!)
So, we got to work! Through a partnership with Americorps’ Mentoring for Success program, we brought on a full time volunteer who focused solely on students who were chronically absent during the 2015 school year and those who demonstrated higher attendance risk.
Myself, the school social worker, the school principal, and the Americorps volunteer worked to focus on these students and by the end of the school year, those same 33 students missed half as many days (486 total days, or an average of just over 14 total days per student) as the year before. One 1st grader went from missing 52 total days to missing 0, that’s right, Zero days!
In addition to working with the individual high-risk students, we also focused on a year-long strategy for improving attendance at school. In October we had attendance awareness month. During this time fliers were sent home illustrating the importance of attendance (all materials taken from attendanceworks.org, another UWSL partner).
Each month students who had not missed a day were given a free dress down day (Guadalupe students wear uniforms on regular days) to recognize their perfect attendance that month and each quarter we had a donut party for those students who had perfect attendance up to that point in the school year! For each week that they had perfect attendance they received a ticket so that they could make the connection that every day attended adds up! At the end of the year we had an attendance store where students were able to cash in their perfect attendance for prizes.
Through our partnership with Americorps we were able to bring additional resources to the school that helped us ensure that high-risk students missed less than half of the days that they had the year before (from 951 total absences to 486 total absences)!
THANK YOU to all of our partners
who helped make this happen!