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To Succeed In School, Students Have To Be In School

August 21, 2013

September is Attendance Awareness MonthAs we celebrate United Way Education Action Week (August 19-23), everyone agrees on the need to improve the performance of our schools and the students they serve. While it’s easy to get caught up in funding debates, teacher-school board labor disputes and the challenges of maintenance-neglected facilities, there is an education solution that doesn’t really cost anything and has shown measurable results.
One of the easiest ways to improve test scores and increase individual student and overall school performance is to boost attendance. By encouraging, incentivizing and rewarding school attendance, students keep pace with their classmates and consistently learn. That’s why September is being designated as Attendance Awareness Month, drawing national attention to the educational challenge of reducing absenteeism.
Concerted get-to-school campaigns reduce absenteeism and help struggling students, making a pointed effort to get them into the classroom more frequently. Students who attend school regularly are much more likely to complete high school, earn a diploma and become productive, contributing members of society.
It’s impossible to win if you’re not in the game; students simply can’t learn if they are not consistently in the classroom. Schools need to encourage students and demonstrate the importance of steady attendance to academic progression, creating a school culture of class attendance.
While some school districts recognize and reward students for 100 percent perfect attendance, creative educational professionals are taking this further, looking at new ways to boost overall attendance rates, especially for the lower strata of students. Rather than counting days and looking at attendance percentages, some schools are creating award programs recognizing students with the most improved overall attendance rate. By striving for improvement, rather than perfection, this tactic helps students who are in the most need of assistance.
Other attendance progressive schools are having mini-competitions between classrooms to see which group has the best attendance. Interclass competition is a very powerful motivator and there’s a traveling trophy that moves from room to room each week or month, showcasing the school’s attendance leaders. Other low or no-cost attendance awards include recognition certificates presented at an assembly, school supplies, cafeteria food coupons and more.
Other innovative programs create awards for the families of attendance progressive students, offering such prizes as food baskets or coupons, transportation passes or other things than can be appreciated by individuals who are related to the student.
Recognizing that on-time performance is also closely related to learning proficiency, some schools only count attendance when students are not tardy. More ideas for improving student school attendance are at http://www.attendancecounts.org

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