The month of September is recognized nationally as Attendance Awareness Month. This is the time to capture the excitement of returning to school and use it to encourage kids to come to school and stay in school. Some children will be attending school for the first time, while others will transition to middle or high school.
Some students will not make this transition and will not return to school. Others will begin the school year and become chronically absent by the end of the year. At P16Plus Council of Greater Bexar County (P16Plus), we are working to change that trend by working with school districts to address chronic absenteeism by prioritizing positive interventions for chronically absent students – students attending school less than 90% of the time – and the use of an early warning indicator.
At the national level, five to seven-and-a-half million students are chronically absent each year. Research continues to show that attendance is linked to academic success. A 2011 California research study connected early attendance with third-grade reading proficiency. The findings showed that 64% of students with good attendance in kindergarten and first grade scored proficient on the state’s third grade English language exam. Chronically absent students in kindergarten and first grade are far less likely to read proficiently at the end of third grade. Students from low-income families who are chronically absent show particularly low levels of literacy: 80% have not reached proficiency.
What has become clear at the national, state, and local level, is that chronic absenteeism is a significant problem affecting our students and, thus, their future, as a whole. Acknowledging that this is not a unilateral issue, the Obama Administration launched the Every Student, Every Day initiative, a national initiative to address and eliminate chronic absenteeism.
P16Plus operates within a collective impact framework, which means that our work in attendance, or any of our other initiatives such as Diplomás or My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio would not be possible without the partnerships we have with our local independent school districts and community organizations.
At P16Plus, our mission is to ensure that every child dramatically improves their educational success in school, college and career, and our vision is to convene and facilitate educational enhancing efforts to inspire and prepare out communities’ families and students for success. That is why we continue to be leaders in addressing chronic absenteeism in Bexar County.
Please join us as we kick off the SA Kids Attend to Win campaign and celebrate September as Attendance Awareness Month on Sept. 16 at the Education Service Center-Region 20, located at 1314 Hines St. Our event will consist of a press conference where we will deliver the data results from SA Kids Attend to Win for last year (2015-2016) at 9:00 a.m., followed by a summit on best practices in attendance. Our guest speakers on the panel will be Sen. José Menéndez (D26) and Kelly Williams from The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk at The University of Texas at Austin. You can RSVP here.
This commentary was originally published by SA2020, a vision for the future of San Antonio created by the community. As a nonprofit, its sole mission is to be a catalyst for progress toward that vision.”
Top image: Two students enjoy free book giveaways at last years SA Kids Attend to Win kick off. Photo courtesy of P16Plus.