During the 2017-2018 school year, the Arkansas Community Foundation provided mini-grants to seven schools to enhance ongoing or new efforts to reduce chronic absence that are a part of a school’s or district’s overall chronic absence reduction plan.
During the 2017-2018 school year, Booneville Elementary in Booneville, Ark. took the first leap into looking at attendance data and devising strategies to tackle chronic absence. The initial strategy was an awards program where each day a classroom had perfect attendance, they received a letter spelling out “perfect attendance.” Once they spelled out the phrase, they received an incentive and a badge. At the end of the year, the class with the most badges received a “huge” reward. Classes with perfect attendance were announced during morning announcements each day and posted on the school’s Facebook page.
Students and teachers alike were motivated and encouraged each other to reach their attendance goals. The award strategy lead teachers to look more closely at their own data and reach out for help to address chronic absence for students in their class. Teachers would collaborate with administrators to identify students and families that need more one-on-one support. Leadership now has a list of students that have been chronically absence and will start reaching out to these students. They added these students to their Response to Intervention list for the upcoming school year.
Working with AR-GLR, Booneville was able to look at its disaggregated chronic absence data and found that a targeted group of at-risk students had increased chronic absence during the school year. Through home visits and one-on-one conversations with students and teachers, they have begun to pinpoint specific challenges facing those families and devising strategies to support those families in getting their children to school.