Closing the Gap Narrative
The Crawford Long Middle School Improvement Plan (SIP) includes the long-term goal that all scholars will complete middle school within three years. Therefore, scholars who attend school regularly are more likely to reach this goal. At the beginning of the school year in 2015-2016, CWL counselors met and examined data from the previous school year's Attendance, Behavior and Coursework Report (ABC), APS Viz and Infinite Campus generated reports. Further analysis of the CWL Data Profile revealed that for the last three years, the ethnic groups were consistent in the number of absences accumulated; however, once the threshold of 10 absences was crossed, African American scholars exceeded the other ethnic groups, 60% of scholars with 10 or more absences in 2015-16 and 68% of scholars with 5 or more absences in the first nine weeks in 2016-17 were African American. Because attendance is a vital part of scholar success and our SIP, we determined that attendance among African American scholars should be the area of focus for closing the achievement gap. We decided that by May 24, 2017, the number of scholars with less than a 90% attendance rate (19 or more absences) will decrease by 5% from 205 scholars in the 2015-2016 school year to 195 or less in the 2016-2017 school year. Research by Gottfried (2009) consistently finds "positive and statistically significant relationships between student attendance and academic achievement for both elementary and middle school scholars." Therefore, the counselors at Long Middle School designed and delivered layered interventions to reach this targeted group of scholars using this plan of action:
1. Individual counseling (12 sessions per semester):
- Identify and address unmet scholar needs to improve his or her attendance: Bullying, negative peer relationships, health concerns, mental health, academic concerns, etc.
- Scholars identified additional reasons for missing school. Counselors worked with parents and scholars to formulate a plan to address concerns such as faulty alarm, overslept, missed the bus, didn't like school, missed friends from the previous school, no friends, parents didn't wake me up.
- Review weekly grade sheets: assisted scholars in planning to make-up assignments, advocate for assistance, and attend weekly help sessions with teachers as needed
- Role-play and reverse role-play to problem solve and empower scholars in situations such as asking for help from teachers
-Identify scholars level of performance and working strategies for moving to the next level of performance
- Create links to scholar identified future goals including career interests
2. Attendance Court
3. Medical Absences: collaborated with the school nurse, Assistant Principal, and parents to determine whether a 504 plan was warranted.
4. Individual daily check-in with targeted scholars
5. provided stamps for monthly attendance increase allowing scholars to choose rewards.
6. Frequently communicated with parents to reinforce the importance of school attendance.
7. Addressed new absences through weekly attendance checks.
8. Consulted teachers, school social worker and held Attendance Committee meetings upon the tenth unexcused absence to inform parents of compulsory school law and evaluate the effectiveness of interventions and strategize additional supports.
9. Attendance contracts were created and agreed upon by all parties.
10. Attend Attendance Court
11. Opportunity to be a part of monthly NBA (NEVER BEEN ABSENT) program
Through a tedious and robust attendance plan, we attacked our attendance goal head on and as a result the 35% or the 205 scholars with 19 or more absences during the 2015 -2016 year was reduced to 151 scholars during the 2016-2017 school year.