In Arkansas, more than one in 10 kindergarten and first-grade students are chronically absent, which means they miss almost 18 days of school each year. Students who are chronically absent are less likely to read on grade level.
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. In 2013, AR-GLR launched the Make Every Day Count initiative with Attendance Works to help schools, districts and communities track chronic absence and develop and implement plans for keeping children in the classroom.
Toolkit – Leading Attendance in Arkansas: How principals can help students succeed by reducing chronic absence
The Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading also released an online toolkit: Leading Attendance in Arkansas: How principals can help students succeed by reducing chronic absence. The toolkit outlines five strategies to help principals develop a comprehensive plan to reduce chronic absence in their schools:
- Cultivate a School-Wide Culture of Attendance
- Use Data to Determine Need for Additional Support
- Take a Team Approach and Develop Staff Capacity
- Tap All Available Resources to Improve Attendance
- Advocate for Resources and Improved Policy
AR-GLR celebrates Attendance Awareness Month each September, but the message of “Make Every Day Count” continues all school year. Local radio station personalities have recorded PSAs to encourage parents to make sure their children attend school every day, and schools and districts are using tools developed by AR-GLR to share the message with parents, students and the broader community.
- Banners – Schools can hang “Make Every Day Count” banners in front of the carpool line, at the school entrance or in the cafeteria.
- Buttons – Teachers and staff can wear “Make Every Day Count” buttons every day to continuously reinforce the message.
- Parent Handouts – Teachers and counselors can share materials with parents about the importance of attending school every day and tips for getting their children to school on time, every day. This poster is available in Spanish and Marshallese as well.
- Tiered Strategies to Reduce Chronic Absence Handout – This handout is intended to help a school or district address chronic absence and think about alignment between its strategies and level of student need.
- Posters – Local businesses, nonprofits, and apartment complexes can hang posters to show their support for “Make Every Day Count.”
- Video PSA – This video PSA can be used by schools, community organizations, and others to lift up the importance of attending school every day. Our local PBS affiliate also continues to share this PSA with more than 460,000 viewers throughout Arkansas.
- Radio PSAs – Local radio personalities recorded PSAs that aired on several radio stations.
In September 2018, Attendance Works and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University released a report, Data Matters: Leveraging the Power of Chronic Absence Data, which provides an analysis of chronic absence rates at a national, state, district and individual school level. According to the analysis, more than 14 percent of Arkansas students were chronically absent during the 2015-2016 school year. The data is collected by the U.S. Department of Educationﾒs Office for Civil Rights, which defines chronic absence as missing 15 or more days of school each year. The report includes an interactive map developed by the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution that allows users to see chronic absence rates broken down by state, school district, schools, grade level and racial/ethnic groups.
In October 2016, the Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF) released a 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.
In September 2016, Attendance Works-in collaboration with the Everyone Graduates Center-released a report, Preventing Missed Opportunity: Taking Collective Action to Confront Chronic Absence. Our Make Every Day County initiative is featured in the report.
AR-GLR’s Make Every Day Count initiative is currently working with more than 40 school districts around the state to build the case for school and educator interventions that increase attendance:
South Conway County
Western Yell County
White County Central