At the beginning of this school year, we launched a special messaging series to help raise awareness of the critical importance of school attendance. I hope you have come across it, but if not, it’s called “You Matter!”, and our tagline reads “Every Student. Every Day. Every Parent. Every Day. Every Teacher. Every Day.”
It is important for me to take pause and call your attention to our scholars’ presence in school. September is Attendance Awareness Month, and we join school districts nationwide in marking our tenth annual campaign. This year’s theme “Stay Connected, Keep Learning” acknowledges the disruptions of the pandemic, but encourages us to press on.
I want us all to know that school attendance is a strong predictor of student achievement – but the converse is also true. Research shows that students with irregular school attendance are at a higher risk of struggling, both socially and academically, and failing to graduate on time. The correlations here are not only real, but they hold true in the data we track across our district.
We are coming out of what has been a most challenging period for educators, for our scholars, and for our families, but many of you have pushed through to ensure our students return to the classroom, consistently following the schedules we set for them. I want to applaud and celebrate you!
If you were present with us and this year’s Back2School Bash, you might have heard my discussion with Mayor Andre Dickens centering on this very school attendance topic. We discussed how we’re mobilizing around a group of efforts in order to provide direct outreach to the students and families who are at-risk for (or already experiencing) chronic absenteeism. We are raising awareness among all APS stakeholders about what a telling indicator attendance is when it comes to predicting a student’s future odds of success.
As your superintendent, I cannot leave it unsaid that many of our families have faced barriers in the pursuit of their school attendance goals. We are working to provide support to those who need it. If you are in need of assistance, please reach out to your school, and they will direct you to the appropriate staff member.
Additionally, I am very proud to share that we are engaging scholars at all grade-levels and across all APS campuses in this important conversation on how their presence in school links to their success. Be on the lookout for creative interpretations of this year’s campaign theme in our annual Attendance Awareness Month Student Poster Competition. To enter, students must draw a picture interpreting the theme “Stay Connected”. Entries should be submitted to school social workers by September 30, 2022. I can’t wait to see the amazing student art that will emerge from this very worthwhile project!