Each year, as Evans City Elementary School’s counselor, along with the YESS (Youth Education Support Services) team and the School Counseling Advisory Council, I collect, review and consider the available data from the PSSA results, the school-wide data report, the discipline reports and the attendance reports. Together we determine the top three areas of focus to support Evans City Elementary School Comprehensive School Plan. From the original paper plan, I create a targeted action plan with monthly, ongoing monitoring of data that provides opportunities for course correction throughout the year. We chose to focus on three areas and the related groups of students: social and behavioral needs for all third graders, the academic needs of a targeted group of fourth graders, and targeted students with above 10% absence rate for the previous year, 2014-2015. Since under-achieving groups of students require a variety of interventions to ensure their success, we proposed an intentional intervention to address their achievement gap focusing on the group of students with attendance issues, knowing that the first step to being academically successful is to be present in school each day. I planned the intervention by carefully cross-walking the ASCA mindsets and behavior standards to guarantee that the activities aligned with desired student outcomes and the goals for this group of students. I made sure that the activities were developmentally appropriate, and aligned with the Mindsets and Behavior Standards of the ASCA National Model.
It is my habit to review the roster of students who have excessive attendance at the end of each school year. “Building Effective Dropout Prevention Programs – Some Practical Strategies From Research and Practice,” by Loujeania Williams Bost, Ph.D., states that students who do not regularly attend school struggle with academic progress. The Seneca Valley School District, in compliance with Pennsylvania statutes, has a closely followed attendance protocol. I augment the protocol with interventions tailored to specific student needs. Some examples include phone calls home, meetings with parents; behavior plans for students, support groups for students, “pay check” incentive, and monthly positive acknowledgment of success for individual students. The data indicate that students’ attendance improved with these interventions.
Regular monitoring and communication with these students and their families helped them make improvements to their attendance.
I noted previously that the students who were unable to meet their goal of 92% attendance rate had home issues beyond their control. These students had parents who had various personal issues that caused them to devalue daily school attendance for their children. I realized that in the future, I must look for ways to engage these parents if I am going to have an impact on these students’ daily attendance. Phone calls by myself and the school administrators were not able to engage the parents in a way that made a positive impact on their children’s attendance. In the future, I will continue to monitor these students and provide additional supports as needed.