I recently read that the number one indicator of high school graduation rates is the 8th and 9th grade attendance rates. We know that if kids are in school regularly, they are more likely to graduate on time. That is just ommon sense! (See the Success Commitment post)
Current Reality: Throughout the summer numerous members of our staff have expressed growing concerns around the issue of attendance. Here is the attendance trends for the last 8 years. Attendance data is always on a one year lag… not sure why. So I don’t have last years data yet. When I get that information, I will forward it on to you.
Administrative Response: With your concerns and this data the administrative team has revisited the process by which we address attendance related issues. Here is the administrative process that we will following this year. Your feedback and input on this issue is welcome. We have sought to tighten up the response timeline, so although it might look familiar, we believe that this will allow us to identify and address trends faster. The most notable change is that we will measure attendance by missed periods, not entire days. Four missed periods will equal one absent day.
Teacher Involvement – We are asking teachers to join in the effort to address attention issues by helping in the following three areas. This is not a mandate… rather a framework that will hopefully help support the administrative actions that will be taking place.
- Speak with a parent when you have a student who misses multiple (consecutive) classes. Imagine being a parent and getting personal calls from several teachers showing concern for students missing your class. That will go a longer way to addressing the issue then calls and letters that can be intercepted.
- Attend meetings for your students when possible. If we show a united front in our concern about attendance we will improve the likelihood that students and families will buy in to being here.
- Inform administration of your attendance concerns. The way IC reports is not simple and teachers will notice attendance trends faster than administration. For example, if a student is tardy to school and misses first block regularly, you will notice before we do.
Who Has the Influence: The most influential person in your students lives (after their parents) is you! A teacher spends more time with students then anyone else in the school system.
We fundamentally believe that together, we can come up with a framework that will help reverse the recent trend in our attendance rates. Please respond with your thoughts and feedback about these ideas.
(I should also mention that this is a major focus of our new superintendent at the primary and middle levels.)