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.
Jones Elementary set out to decrease chronic absence rates from 10.5 percent to 8 percent from 2016-17 to 2017-18 school years. With a series of universal and targeted strategies, the school exceeded its goal and achieved a 6.4 percent chronic absence rate!
Jones Elementary formed an attendance committee that consisted of the assistant principal, the counselor, the school secretary and the nurse. The committee sat down weekly to review student absences making weekly phone calls and many home visits. By asking families how they could assist in getting their children to school, staff uncovered many barriers that could easily be overcome. They handed out many lice kits, alarm clocks and even found a gently used stroller for a mom with a baby that walks her older children to school.
The school also developed a monthly incentive to reward students for good attendance. Students with perfect attendance for the month had their names placed in a drawing for prizes such as tickets to high school sporting events or a local indoor playground and arcade. Every student who had perfect attendance for the month was also placed into a two-yearly raffle to win a new bike.