Dr. M.H. Mason Elementary School (2018)

Duluth, GA

Closing the Gap

Closing-the-Gap Narrative

How the Gap was identified:

During the summer of 2016, we began to analyze the data from 2015-2016. One of the areas we looked at was the attendance data in the ABC (Attendance-Behavior-Course-Performance) At-Risk Summary Report as well as in the County’s Synergy-Education-Platform. In the Synergy-Platform, we first looked at the ADA (Average-Daily-Attendance) report from the past two years. We noticed that there was a drop in the Total ADA (Grades K-5) from 952.93 in 2014-2015 to 902.52 in 2015-2016. After looking closely at the grade levels, we found that there was an increase in ADA with Kindergarten (14-15) to 1st grade (15-16); however, there was a decrease in ADA for 1st-5th grade. Since the 2015-2016 fifth graders went to M.S. for 2016-2017, we decided to look further into 1st-3rd grade.

From the Synergy-Platform, we also pulled the students who had 10+ absences in 2015-2016 and disaggregated them by grade levels. There were a total of 150 students who had 10+ absences in 2015-2016 and the grade levels were broken down as such: K-34, 1st-33, 2nd-32, 3rd-24, and 4th-27. The students in the ABC At-Risk Report were also reflected in the 150 students who had 10+ absences; however, they were from several grade levels. Since we were also looking at the ADA from previous years, and the Kindergarten ADA increased from 14-15 to 15-16, we focused on the 14-15 1st-3rd grade students because they would be 3rd-5th grade students in 2016-2017. Furthermore, after discussing the achievement data with stakeholders, we felt that it was important to focus our attention on the 3rd and 5th graders for our Closing-the-Gap goal since the Georgia-Milestones would determine promotion for those grades in 2016-2017. As a note, this is the first year that the Georgia-Milestones would determine promotion. The previous years were pilot years.

Why the Gap was important to address:

Regular school attendance helps prepare students for success- both at school and later in life. When students have regular attendance, their grades will often go up and they can feel more connected at school. This is reflected in Mindsets 2-3; having the ability to succeed and having a sense of belonging in the school environment. Students who have high absenteeism may feel unprepared and overwhelmed because they continuously try and play catch up with their work load. In the elementary school, it is even more critical because students are learning to read. That is why we chose to address the 3rd grade students with 10+ absences. It is the time where they shift from “learning to read” to “reading to learn” and with the Georgia Milestones determining promotion for reading; we felt it was an important goal. In addition, we felt 5th grade was just as important to address because they are getting ready to go to middle school where the work load increases and moves at a faster pace. And Georgia Milestones determines promotion for 5th grade this year as well.


Once our Closing-the-Gap goal was determined, we looked at the activities and interventions to support this goal. Some of the interventions were already in place and part of protocol, however, this year in my core curriculum lessons, I stressed the importance of attendance in my career lessons as it relates to future aspirations and goals; a Behavior-Learning-Strategy. I shared with them that students with high attendance rates are more likely to graduate from high school which then in turn sets them up for a better future. The perception data survey questions were also discussed during these lessons too. The Kids Hope Mentoring Program was another intervention implemented to support some of the students with high absences. Having a caring adult meet with these students weekly also reinforced the importance of being at school. But the intervention that I feel made a greater impact was recognizing the students who had perfect attendance for the month. Here, one student from each grade level was drawn out of a box to have ice-cream with the principal each month. In addition, all the students with perfect attendance scrolled on the TVs for the entire month. This intervention focused on the positive (since we are a PBIS school) and helped the students with high absences see there was also recognition for coming to school.

Next Steps:

For 2017-2018, we will make attendance a priority in all the career lessons, not just the promotion grades. And we will create attendance small-groups for students who are approaching 10+ absences and need the extra support.

Goal: By May 2017, the number of students with 10 or more absences in the 2015-2016 school year, will decrease by 50% from 150 to 75.

Target Group: 59 3rd and 5th grade students who had 10+ absences in 2015-2016

Data Used to Identify Students: The 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 attendance data from the Gwinnett County Synergy Education Platform

School Counselor(s): Robin Zorn

ASCA Domain, Mindsets & Behaviors Standard(s): M:2,3 B-LS:7 B-SMS:8

Type of Activities to be Delivered in What Manner?: 1. A monthly incentive program recognizing the students who had perfect attendance for the month. One student per grade level is drawn from the list to receive an ice-cream coupon. 2. Monthly Counselor/Administrator/Social Worker meetings to discuss students with high absences. 3. Student Attendance Review Committee (SARC) meetings with counselor, social worker, administrator, and parent. 4. Individual counseling for students with 5-10 unexcused absences 5. Core Curriculum lessons connecting attendance with school and careers and goals. 6. Kids Hope mentoring program 7. Attendance policies and procedures are in the parent/student handbook outlining what is an excused and an unexcused absence. In addition, it states that a minimum level of attendance is required to learn the AKS (Academic Knowledge and Skills) for the year. Parents and students sign this to acknowledge they are aware of the attendance policy. 8. RTI (Response to Intervention)Services through the Student Support Team 9. An automated call to parents when students are absent. This was implemented in 2016-2017.

Process Data (Number of students affected): 59 Total Students 32 3rd Grade Students 27 5th Grade Students

Perception Data (Surveys or assessments used): The Student Engagement Instrument (SEI) is an electronic survey used to measure how cognitively and affectively engaged students are at school and with learning. The theme, Future Aspirations and Goals, consists of seven cognitive engagement questions. 1. My education will create many chances for me to reach my future goals. 2. Continuing to learn after high school is important. 3. I plan to go to college after I graduate high school. 4. School is important for reaching my goals. 5. My family/guardian(s) want me to keep trying when things are tough at school. 6. I am hopeful about my future. 7. What I learn in my classes will be important in my future. The Composite Score can range from 1.0 to 5.0, with higher scores reflecting stronger student engagement. Overall: 3rd Grade- Fall score: 3.34 Spring score: 4.57 37% increase 5th Grade- Fall score: 3.32 Spring score: 4.7 42% increase Target Students: 3rd Grade- Fall score: 3.33 Spring score: 4.50 35% increase 5th Grade- Fall score: 3.26 Spring score: 4.31 32% increase

Outcome Data (Achievement, attendance, and/or behavior data): Overall: There was a 62% decrease in students who had 10+ absences from 15-16 to 16-17. (150 students in 15-16 to 57 students in 16-17) Target Students: 3rd Grade- 69% decrease from 32 to 10 absences 5th Grade- 89% decrease from 27 to 3 absences

Implications: There was a significant overall decrease in absences with the students who had 10+ absences in 2015-2016 as well as with the target group of 3rd and 5th graders. This was the first year we implemented a monthly incentive for students who had perfect attendance. Students who had perfect attendance for the month had their name put in a drawing. Those selected enjoyed ice-cream with the principal. Their name was also put on a continuous scroll in the front lobby for the month. This intervention proved effective; therefore we should continue recognizing the students with perfect attendance for the month. In 3rd and 5th grades, we connected future careers with being a student in core curriculum lessons. This should be continued along with the other grades. It is also important to continue making connections with the students who have 5-10 absences early on to identify any support that may be needed. Small groups may be added in future years as an intervention as well.