Attendance counts! The more school students miss, the less likely they are to graduate from high school. GEAR UP schools are using data and proven techniques to increase awareness and engagement among staff, students and parents.
Rogue River Junior/Senior High School's focus on attendance starts with communicating its importance to staff, parents and students. The administration began by stressing the importance of attendance to the staff, and doing the backend work necessary so it is not an extra burden for teachers.
"We want attendance to be something...positive," said Principal Jamie Wright. "My teachers are working hard to build relationships and help students feel like coming to school IS important and someone cares about them."
Attendance is a talking point at every parent meeting and parents automatically receive letters home when students miss school through the Attention2Attendance program. Students see the daily attendance by grade level posted in a prominent place in the school and the grade with the best attendance record each quarter receives a special lunch celebration.
"Better attendance is translating into better test scores and better overall grade performance," said GEAR UP Coordinator Stephanie Stirm. "It gets students thinking about the importance of being here every day as part of their routine. This translates into better time management and dedication, which they will need as they progress into the college and/or career pathway of their choice."
Cottage Grove High School is addressing chronic absence by encouraging students to participate in school activities by offering clubs during lunch as well as afterschool, reports the Cottage Grove Sentinel.
"There's so much research that says when students are connected to their schools, attendance rates go up," said Principal Mike Ingman. "If a student is in three clubs, the attendance rate goes into the high 90s."
In addition, the school is using technology to encourage school involvement with a new app, Spirit, that allows students and faculty to "check in" at sporting events and other school related activities. Each check in is worth points for a "team" (each grade, plus staff) and the team with the most points will win a small prize, such as coffee gift cards.