chronic absenteeism

Following the money

counting students

Back to school

showing up

Taking attendance

showing up

Roll call!

Taking attendance

First Person

showing up

present

Good medicine

Taking attendance

keeping tabs

New York

City subway ads redirect anti-truancy message to parents

New anti-truancy advertisements released by the city today. In the two years since the city launched its initiative to combat truancy and longterm school absences, they targeted students, with the help of teachers and celebrities like Magic Johnson. Now the initiative is turning its attention to parents. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced today an advertisement campaign to inspire parents to make sure their children are in school each morning, and guide them to resources if their children are not. Each ad shows images of students and the public service announcement-inspired message: "It's 9 a.m. Do you know where your kids are?" Bloomberg told an auditorium of reporters, city officials, and young students and teachers at P.S. 91 in Queens that the city will be pushing to help parents increase their childrens' attendance rates and understand the academic consequences of chronic absenteeism. Repeat offenders in elementary and middle school are more likely to drop out when they get to high school, he said. "But many parents...don't know what to do about it, and that's why we're launching the ad campaign," he said. "It points parents towards help." The city will post these ads on public transportation and metro cards, in schools and community centers, and online. The campaign directs parents to visit the Department of Education web site, where they can find out how many days of school their child has missed. Librarians will be trained to help parents access this information, which requires a student identification number. And four times a year Department of Education officials will station themselves in the libraries to give more detailed advice to parents.
New York

Anti-truancy initiative brings peer group mentoring to Marta Valle

Marta Valle High School seniors and freshmen participating in Peer Group Connection last week When Andy Rodriguez and Shanique Josephs told 15 Marta Valle High School freshmen last week that only half of all black and Hispanic students graduate from high school, the room grew quiet. “That means half of you guys probably won’t graduate — according to statistics," Josephs said. "How does that make you feel?" Rodriguez and Josephs were very much trying to teach the freshmen in front of them, but they are not teachers. They are two of 24 Marta Valle seniors participating in Peer Group Connection, a mentoring program run by the Princeton Center for Leadership Training. Used by more than 150 schools across the country, the program has so far been used in New York City only by elite private schools, such as Spence and Dalton. The program came to Marta Valle, the first city public school to adopt it, through Mayor Bloomberg's year-old Interagency Task Force on Truancy, Chronic Absenteeism and School Engagement. (Washington Irving High School will start using Peer Group Connection next semester.) “We’ve been doing this program for so long in elite private schools so we love being able to mirror that experience for students in more high-need communities,” said Margo Ross, PCLT’s senior director of development. While the range of schools have different needs — and adjust their mentoring curriculum accordingly — the essence of the model remains the same. PGC calls for select seniors to enroll in a full-year, credit-bearing course which meets daily and trains them to be peer leaders. The course is co-taught by two teachers who have gotten special training. Once a week the seniors visit freshmen advisories for an “outreach class” in which they lead activities and discussions about relevant topics such as graduation, goal-setting, and decision-making. Seniors get credits towards graduation and a sense of responsibility. Freshmen get peer role models and help making the tough transition into high school — something that experts say is essential to keep them from dropping out.
New York

City takes to the phones in battle against chronic absenteeism

Last year, the city launched a campaign to reduce absenteeism with a letter home. Today, it's following up with a phone call. Students from 25 schools who have missed 10 or more days this year will soon start receiving early-morning wake-up calls from celebrities such as Magic Johnson and the rapper Big Boi, the city announced today. The calls, which city officials say will eventually be made to frequently absent students in all schools, mark the second phase in the city's push to boost attendance. The first phase, which launched in August, marshaled resources from across city agencies to target the most frequently truant students at the 25 schools. Extreme absenteeism is down at those schools, the city said today. The attendance initiatives follow a 2009 report by Center for New York City researchers that revealed that the city's 91 percent average attendance rate masks chronic absenteeism among a fifth of students. The pitfalls of tardiness are explored in two pieces in the GothamSchools Community section today, coincidentally enough. Collin Lawrence, a former teacher who has been recounting his four years working at a small high school in Brooklyn, writes that no one seemed to care that few students got to school when it started. And launching a new column, Bronx high school college counselor Brendan Lowe describes waking up at 5:30 a.m. last month to call students scheduled to take the SAT. Lowe writes: Crazy? Perhaps. Did we help our students? In a short-term sense, absolutely. Last year, 40 of 59 students (67 percent) failed to show up for their first sitting of the SAT, thereby wasting one of two possible fee waivers. This year, 57 of 60 students — 95 percent — actually took the test. The city's complete press release is below: