The gap was identified through our year-end attendance report from our state database called Infinite Campus (16-17). In looking at our data, it showed that 4th grade had the highest number of students with 15 or more absences (36 students). The second highest was a tie between 5th grade and Kindergarten. With 5th grade moving on to middle school and Kindergarten having other factors for absences (parents keeping home if sick), we decided to target the 4th grade class as they enter 5th grade for the 2017-18 school year.
The interventions chosen for this target group included some interventions that were implemented school wide (attendance incentives, core curriculum guidance), while other interventions were created for this target group. We placed the targeted students in groups to ask what were some reasons for their attendance problems last year. Through participation in the group, they all felt comfortable to share their story. The reasons for their absenteeism had range of different reasons from taking care of younger siblings, parent passing away, sibling having cancer, and difficulties waking up. This painted a clearer picture to each student and had a better understanding of where they were coming from. We also implemented a special reward system for each student if they improved their attendance. For example, if the students come to school for the entire week, they receive a weekly incentive which could range from snacks, extra recess, and no homework pass. We also conducted individual counseling sessions and check in/check out system to help with progress monitoring. The resource that we used for our individual and group lesson were “Coming To School Is Really Cool” by Sandy Ragona & Stefani Weber. In addition, we had regular consultation with teachers, used communication sheets between school and home, and did home visits as needed.
Our perception data from our pre/post test (Liekert scale) showed significant increases in two of the statements we asked. “I know how many absences makes a student chronically absent” showed an increased score from 1.77 to 5. “I have a plan that will improve my attendance” showed an increased score from 2.19 to 5. Seeing those results were great, but the true test was to see if the perception data would have a positive effect on our outcome data. Our outcome data showed that our target group of 5th graders had only 27 students that were chronically absent compared to 36 the year before, a decrease of 25%! Our goal was to have a decrease of 20%, so we were very pleased with the results.
The data is helping us determine our next steps regarding attendance. Our administration was pleased with the results of our attendance groups and has asked if we could implement it with the other grades. We are also looking into other incentives to help encourage our students to come to school. The data is also helping us make decisions about which interventions we will continue or discontinue. For example, our weekly attendance reports have showed that when we had school wide spirit weeks, there was an increase of 1-2% (around 10-20 students) in our attendance rates for that week and the following week. Because of our data tracking, we realized the importance of how conducting spirit weeks at our school can do to encourage our students to come to school.