Students who were absent 10 or more days in 6th grade during the 2015-2016 school year were invited to participate with parent permission in a small group during the 2016-2017 school year. Two parents declined permission. Two students withdrew from school during the school year. This left me with 22 participants. We met each month to review their attendance. Prior to each month's group meeting (at the end of each month), I pulled attendance data for each student. The goal for the reward each month for every student was 2 or less absences that month not including doctor's note. We do not penalize students for doctor's notes because if they are submitting these, they are following the policy and this demonstrates that the student was legitimately ill. Students were given a reward (a ticket for any item in our school's PBiS store) if they met the group goal of 2 or less absences in the month not including doctor notes. Students were given opportunities to get extra help in their classes or from the counselor, provided mentoring opportunities, and were taught healthy and successful school habits, skills and routines. Kevin Siegel, 7th grade school counselor, conducted the group and along with his intern. We used goal setting sheets and attendance reports each meeting. During each group meeting, a lesson was delivered. Students were informed, using statistics, laws and school policies, of the strong connection between daily school attendance and student success in school. Students were given opportunities to identify specific actions they can take to arrive to school on time daily. They were also given opportunities to identify specific adults (teacher, parents and other family members, other staff, friends and peers, etc.) that can assist them in their daily school attendance. Students set SMART goals each session and then reviewed their goals that they set the previous month. For example, a student might have set a goal to go for extra help in Math once per week or to set their alarm and get up without snoozing it each morning. Through these goal setting activities, students were able to take ownership and responsibility over their school attendance. Finally, in this group, students were able to form stronger relationships with me, each other and other adults in the school building.
In addition to the above activities, students were able to complete the following tasks through the lessons provided:
-Write a thank you note to an adult that helps them with school attendance (parent, teacher, etc.)
-Identify specific actions they can take to help them get to school on time
-Identify activities they can get involved in to help them form a connection to school