Location

Sloane

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Strand #2

Family & Community

Relevance

The barrier of absenteeism and academic achievement connects with several of the strands within the conference theme. Academic Achievement & Leadership and Family & Community are the strands in which we will focus on. We will present ideas around the importance of tracking chronic absence data for each student, and the need for partnering with families and community agencies to intervene when poor attendance is a problem for students or schools. We will be presenting concepts which address mobilizing communities and schools to not only promote the value of good attendance, but how to take concrete steps toward reducing chronic absences. This will bring to the forefront the purpose and importance of educating all stakeholders; including principals, teachers, support staff, students, and parents. For teachers, a practical, attendance focused, user-friendly curriculum has been developed (which will be presented) which is aligned with the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards for grades K-12. For support staff and other professionals, the use and importance of promoting school attendance through collaboration with the community in order to create unity between the school, the district, and the community as a means to address students who are chronically absent from school. This will enhance the overall outcome of the entire community as school attendance impacts student achievement which directly impacts the caliber of professionals within the community from the work force to the college classrooms.

Brief Program Description

In this presentation, participants will focus on the importance of a holistic approach addressing chronic absenteeism in schools. Participants are provided with tools to take to their district and community helping bring awareness to regular, punctual school attendance. We will provide exciting, hands-on, interactive experiences on initiatives and creative strategies addressing truancy.

Summary

“Count Yourself In”, serves as a concerted effort to decrease truancy in local school districts, we would like to present information about the Attendance Works program, as well as a practical, user-friendly, attendance aligned curriculum in accordance with the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards which serves grades K-12. The goal is to mobilize schools and communities not only to promote the value of good attendance but also to take concrete steps toward reducing chronic absences. We realize that serving our student population will require additional resources, ideas and strategies to help decrease the rising truancy rates. The presentation will provide learning opportunities that can be implemented immediately within the learning environment and encouraging ways in which to promote school attendance through Education, Motivation, Communication, and Collaboration. Knowledge will be offered on identifying and addressing students/families with trends of school absences and how to address their needs and identify barriers. Different strategies will be presented on how to communicate with teachers, parents, students, and the “new age” family unit within the community. Attendance Works acts as an intervention to highlight the importance of school attendance across the district and is a national and state initiative that promotes better policy and practice around school attendance. The presentation will provide evidence-based strategies on implementing National Attendance Awareness Month which recognizes the connection between school attendance and academic achievement. Encouraging students to attend school all day, every day, and on time takes the efforts of many. Collaboration in key and this presentation addresses the need for community involvement to help spread the word of the importance of attending school and to also use these resources in providing schools/districts/agencies with incentives to help promote school attendance. The program promotes tracking chronic absentee data for each student beginning as early as Kindergarten and partnering with families and community agencies to intervene when poor attendance is a problem for students and schools. Working together to help STOMP truancy is the overall outcome for this presentation; to Stay in contact with Students & Parents; Target students with High absences; Organize teams to address Truancy; Monitor Absences; Provide Education and Incentives for Students & Families.

Evidence

Nationally, an estimated 5 million to 7 million students are chronically absent each year; this equates to 1 in 10 students. By 3rd grade, students who have been chronically absent are less likely to read on grade level; and by 6th grade, chronic absenteeism becomes an early warning sign that a student may drop out of high school. In school districts where state aid is determined by average daily attendance, chronic absences are costing School Districts millions of dollars a year in funding. On our local level, the need for such programs/initiatives were evident based on the data collected from the Georgia Department of Education (2010-2011 school year); locally, approximately 34% of students enrolled missed 6-15 days in school. Additionally, 11.7% missed a total of 15 days or more. During the 2013-2014 school year, there were more high school students who missed 15 or more days from school in 2013-2014 than there were May 2014 high school graduates. A total of 1,798 students were absent 15 or more days from school while there were only 1,123 high school graduates. There was an average of approximately 140 students per middle school (as many as 197 at one middle school alone) and about half of this per elementary school (as many as 109 at one elementary school alone) in the District who missed 15 or more days of school during last school year. In presenting this crucial data, the challenge has been accepted and Count Yourself In has been adopted and implemented by every school within the District and is proving to be a key component in encouraging and promoting school attendance to students, families, teachers, administrators, and the community at large. The curriculum is proving to be engaging to administrators, teachers, and support staff which has in turn created a sense of urgency for students, families, and the community.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Takeysha Ray and Curlandra Lightfoot-Smith are School Social Workers with the Bibb County Public School District which is also the District in which they were both educated. Additionally, Ms. Ray and Mrs. Smith graduated from Fort Valley State University with Bachelors Degrees in Social Work and from Valdosta State University where they received Masters Degrees in Social Work. Currently, they are both pursuing Education Specialist degrees; Ms. Ray in Educational Leadership and Ms. Smith in Teacher Leadership at Valdosta State. This duo has an array of experience from working in public education in the classroom and in the field to working directly with families and children within the Child Protection and Foster Care system in Georgia. Other theory-based work experience has been within the hospice sector, community activism, youth counseling, sex offender/family violence counseling, independent living training, and teaching students with an array of disabilities from the Autistic spectrum to SEBD. It is their passion to engage and inspire EVERY child on the importance of obtaining an education in order to be successful that drives the work that they perform on a daily basis both in the schools and within the community.

Keyword Descriptors

attendance, community, families, teaching and learning, counseling, social services, chronic absenteeism

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-2-2015 3:00 PM

End Date

3-2-2015 4:15 PM

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Mar 2nd, 3:00 PM Mar 2nd, 4:15 PM

Count Yourself In:Encouraging Students to Take the 180-Day Challenge

Sloane

In this presentation, participants will focus on the importance of a holistic approach addressing chronic absenteeism in schools. Participants are provided with tools to take to their district and community helping bring awareness to regular, punctual school attendance. We will provide exciting, hands-on, interactive experiences on initiatives and creative strategies addressing truancy.