New Chronic Absence Report and Toolkit Provide Strategies to Support Arkansas Schools

MEDC21.JPGThe Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF) in October released a new report, Make Every Day Count: Reducing Chronic Absence in Arkansas Schools, which details chronic absence data in the state – and some strategies to address the issue. The report includes an analysis by AACF of data from the Arkansas Department of Education showing that:

  • Chronic absence starts early. Over 13 percent of kindergarten and first grade students miss a month or more of school. 
  • Nearly all elementary schools in Arkansas had some chronically absent students in 2014-2015. However, one-quarter of chronically absent students were concentrated in just ten percent of the state’s 522 elementary schools.
  • Chronically absent third graders are less likely to read on grade level. Only 20 percent of chronically absent students read on grade-level as opposed to 30 percent of non-chronically absent students.
  • Economic disadvantage affects attendance. Students from low-income families were twice as likely to be chronically absent.

The report, which was presented before the State Board of Education, also outlines tiered interventions that have been used by bright spot schools to make every day count, including Monitor and Parson Hills Elementary Schools in Springdale and Marvell-Elaine Elementary School. The report, and AR-GLR's work to stem chronic absence, have also been featured in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Arkansas Public Media (KUAR), an NPR affiliate.

We also released an online toolkit: Leading Attendance in Arkansas: How principals can help students succeed by reducing chronic absence. It outlines five strategies to help principals develop a comprehensive plan to reduce chronic absence in their schools: 

  1.      Cultivate a School-Wide Culture of Attendance
  2.      Use Data to Determine Need for Additional Support
  3.      Take a Team Approach and Develop Staff Capacity
  4.      Tap All Available Resources to Improve Attendance
  5.      Advocate for Resources and Improved Policy

These two new resources support AR-GLR’s Make Every Day Count initiative, which in partnership with Attendance Works, promotes strategies to reduce chronic absence in the early grades and helps schools, districts and communities track chronic absence and develop and implement plans for keeping children in the classroom every day. Make Every Day Count is currently working with the following school districts:  Atkins, Fort Smith, Greenbrier, Hope, Hot Springs, Marvell-Elaine, Springdale, and Western Yell County. To find out how your school or district can participate in the Make Every Day Count Learning Community, contact Angela Duran, AR-GLR Campaign Director at aduran@ar-glr.net.