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  1. Using Attendance Incentives in Order to Improve Student Engagement Jennifer Leahy Graduate First Best Practices Forum January 24, 2012 Jennifer.leahy@negaresa.org

  2. The Context • Madison County Middle School • Rural • 81% White • 10% African-American • 59% Economically Disadvantaged • 16% Students with Disabilities • Total student population--1124

  3. AYP Indicators • Did not make AYP in 2005-2006 • Attendance/Academic Performance • Did not make AYP in 2006-2007 • Academic Performance • Attendance—14.9% with 15+ absences

  4. The Problem • Attendance impacting AYP status • Attendance rate worst in Northeast Georgia (Athens Banner Herald, 2/04/08) • Lack of FUN! (Renee McCannon, Graduation Coach)

  5. A Shift in Thinking • Attendance… • is an indicator of student engagement. • impacts academic achievement. • impacts school completion. • can be improved.

  6. Attendance Matters (NDPC-SD, 2008) • Students in 6th grade who did not attend school have a 14% chance of graduating on time or with one extra year • Missing one day a week from K-11th grade is equivalent to missing five semesters • Being half an hour late to school each day from Year 1 to year 10 is equivalent to missing 3 semesters

  7. Graduate First Team • Data Collection (who and when) • Push and Pull Factors (why) • Primary Concerns • Attendance • “Invisible Population” • Student Engagement

  8. Attendance Campaign • Grade-level presentations • Identify concern • Dispel myths • Communication • Conferences • Report Cards • Flyers • Newspaper • Big Six, Super Seven, Elite Eight

  9. Myths About Student Attendance (GA-DOE) • Missing a few days of school each year is normal and doesn’t matter that much. • Data indicate that missing more than five days of school each year, regardless of the cause, impacts student academic performance and starts shaping attitudes about school. • From the 6th grade through the 9th grade, student attendance is a better predictor of dropping out than standardized test scores. • Excused absences and unexcused absences have similarimpact on student academic performance.

  10. Myths About Student Attendance (GA-DOE) 2. We don’t need to worry about attendance until middle or high school. • While absenteeism is more widespread in middle and high school, it still affects vast numbers of younger students. • Data shows that standardized test scores are significantly affected by elementary students’ attendance patterns, to the point that the number of absences is related to the student’s chances of “passing” the CRCT (Meets or Exceeds). • Elementary students’ school attendance habits often carry over into middle and high school.

  11. Myths About Student Attendance(GA-DOE) • Most schools already closely monitor student absences. • Even when teachers take roll daily, the data they collect is not typically analyzed to reveal absence patterns. • Most schools measure school-wide attendance or they track truancy, which does not capture excused absences. • When schools and school districts analyze all absences (unexcused, excused, and suspensions) they are often surprised at how many students are missing 10 days or more each school year. • Georgia is ranked 10th in the nation for OSS

  12. Myths About Student Attendance (GA-DOE) • Because families are ultimately responsible for children getting to school, there’s not much schools can do to improve attendance. • Schools and school districts that have made a concentrated, systemic review of student absences have developed effective strategies. • A review of student absences has been used to identify which students are absent (excused and unexcused), to look for patterns and locations and possible related causes (such as school climate factors, environmental factors, health factors, transportation, etc.)

  13. Provide Answers to Parents’ Questions (GA-DOE) • What are my responsibilities as a parent around improving attendance? • How important is regular school attendance? • What can I expect from the school? • What help can I get if my child refuses to go to school or is skipping/tardy? • Must I notify the school if my child has been away? • How will missed work be made up?

  14. The Solution • Multi-faceted (Incentive-based) • Targeted and Universal • Relied on Community Involvement • Initially developed/implemented Feb-May, 2008 • SUCCESSFUL!

  15. Targeted Intervention • Student Assembly • 120 students with 8+ absences by January • Contract (students and parents) • Bi-weekly rewards • Drink—every two weeks for no absences • Lunch—every month for 1 or fewer absences

  16. Results/Issues • 1st month=30 lunches • 2nd month=50 lunches • 3rd month=78 lunches • Teacher buy-in • Fairness

  17. Universal Intervention • Attendance Extravaganza • 10 or fewer absences • Parent Volunteers • Community Volunteers • 835 Eligible Students • Food, Fun, Prizes

  18. The Outcome • 2006-2007: 14.9% with 15+ absences • 2007-2008: 9.9% with 15+ absences • Economically Disadvantaged: 21.6% to 14.4% • Students with Disabilities: 22.6% to 13.4% • African-American: 5.6% to 3.5% • White: 16.4% to 10.7% • Met AYP

  19. School-wide Attendance Data • 2007-2008: 14.9% • 2008-2009: 9.9% • 2009-2010: 12.9% • 2010-2011: 9.7%

  20. The Evolution • Parent concern • Mini-Extravaganza • Mustang Bucks • “Bell to Bell”

  21. The Lesson • It can be done! • Review data and develop specific goal(s) • Communicate message • Solicit community support • Identify students for intervention(s) • Appoint leader • Review attendance data regularly • Celebrate successes • Positive Strategies yield Positive Results!

  22. Planning for Improvement • Form an Attendance Team • Gain a valid and reliable picture of attendance in your school • Analyze, reflect, and set targets • Plan and implement intervention/s • Monitor and review progress to inform future action • (NCPD-SD, 2008)

  23. Questions? • Jennifer.leahy@negaresa.org