When our children aren’t in school, they miss out on critical reading and math instruction they’ll need to succeed later in school and life. To reach our goal of all children reading proficiently by the end of third grade, we must make sure that all children attend school every day. AR-GLR helps schools, districts and communities track chronic absence and develop and implement plans for keeping children in the classroom.
After attending a Make Every Day Count training, Batesville West Elementary implemented the Success Mentor strategy to strengthen the relationships between students and school personnel and increase good attendance. When they began, 38 students in the school were chronically absent or at-risk for being so. A list of these students was shared with teachers and staff so they could be matched with a mentee, ideally one with whom they had an existing relationship.
During Monday morning meetings, teachers and administrators talk about how they will make contact with their mentees. A meeting with mentees may be over lunch or simply a hallway conversation. Using a shared spreadsheet to track contact with mentees, the group of students who were missing too much school has dropped from 38 to 14 after only one semester. With the remaining 14 students, teachers and administrators are working more closely to determine how to reduce any barriers to attendance.
To encourage good attendance school-wide, all students participate in a monthly incentive program. Every month that a student misses three or fewer days, their name is entered into a drawing for a Chromebook that will be given away at the end of the year. Students with zero absences are able to enter their name in the drawing five times while those with three absences enter only once. Rather than rewarding only perfect attendance, Batesville West’s incentive program understands that children will get sick during the year and may need to miss school.