The gap identified in this section involved attendance and students with disabilities. When looking at the school data profile (from section 3) it was clear that students with disabilities had much lower attendance than the general population: 82% for students with disabilities vs 92% of the general population. This 10% gap was identified as one of my goals, I wanted to increase attendance for students with disabilities by 5% to 87% creating a smaller gap between the populations. Of the 85 students with disabilities at Weatherbee School, 15 students were identified for this goal based on attendance in the 16-17 school year.
Activities were chosen for this closing the gap goal using research informed practices. Most of the research used in the choosing of interventions was provided by attendanceworks.org. This resource helped us to create a multi-tiered approach to attendance: most students in this goal were identified at the tier 2 level (missing 10-19% of school). However, it was important that we work at all three levels of intervention. At the tier 1 level we worked on school climate through data gathering and community building circles at the end of ever core curriculum class and we taught two tier one lessons to help promote positive protective factors, we monitored absence data closely. At tier 2, we created personalized early outreach through small groups that promoted engagement (self esteem, worry, and/or academic skills depending on the needs of the student.) Research for this intervention is provided by a study by Baker and Jensen (2000) showing students improved attendance by building friendships, social skills and self esteem. We did Check-in/Check-out (a program where students ‘check in’ with an adult before and after each school day to make sure they were organized and ready for the day as well as building a relationship.). We also did a silent mentoring program (pairing a student with an adult for the purpose of building relationship without the student knowing that they are being mentored). There is a plethora of research showing the link between caring relationships between staff and students as a protective factor in school attendance (Bernard, 2004; Steinberg & Allen, 2002). This research reflects well on our Check-in Check-out program and our silent mentoring program. Home visits are were implemented after seeing the research by the Family Engagement Partnership Student Outcome Evaluation (Sheldon & Bee Jung, 2015).
The data from this results report helps me to deliver interventions and activities more effectively by showing which interventions were the most impact. My data shows that the small group interventions, as well as the interventions that work toward building social/emotional protective factors are the most impactful. It's clear that weaving social-emotional learning into all parts of attendance interventions will positively benefit student attendance.
The data from the results report helps me to collect data more accurately. It was difficult to collect data before and after the family-based interventions: letters home and home visits. I did get data from the belonging to school survey, but I wish that I had collected the data closer to the time of the letter or home visit. The timing of this data could have more accurately reflected the success of these interventions.
The data from the results report helps me to target ASCA’s mindsets and behaviors. The data showed that the best and most impactful interventions were the ones that worked with social-emotional learning. Before these interventions, I thought that working on academic skills (like organization, whole body listening, etc) would help students to feel more academic success and therefore lead to better confidence and increase attendance. Data shows that the academic skills small group was successful (⇧ 19%) but not as successful as the small groups that targeted social-emotional learning (Self Esteem: ⇧ 32% , Worry: ⇧ 41%).
The data from the results report helped me to decide which interventions to continue, adjust or discontinue. It is clear from the data that sending attendance letters home does not show much growth (⇧1%). There was even decreased growth in attitudes and beliefs regarding positive attendance. Sending attendance letters home is a systemic practice that all schools in our district participate in. In the future, I’ve decided to keep data on the practice of sending home attendance letters to see if it continues to have little impact on student attendance and continues to decrease attitudes and beliefs. If I continue to see this trend in data I’ll need to use leadership and advocacy to bring this to the attention of administration.