One of the goals of Hidden Hills Elementary School is to improve student attendance, both in terms of tardies and unexcused absences. To get a better idea on how to approach the issue of attendance, we analyzed the 2016-2017 attendance data to see where interventions can be directed. In the 2016-2017 school year, there were 184 over 30 minute tardies school wide. Second grade students made up 32% of those tardies (59 tardies), which is roughly twice the amount of all other grades. Due to the high number of tardies from second grade students, we developed the program goal to work specifically with the these students as third graders, “By June 2018, the number of ‘over 30 minute tardies among 3rd grade students will decrease by 20%, from 59 tardies to 47 tardies.”
Third grade students who were identified with attendance issues received interventions at multiple levels. School wide interventions (office posters and trimester attendance awards) were in place to support our target group and our school as a whole. Identified students participated in a series of small group lessons: Benefits of Coming to School; You Miss School, You Miss Out;The Benefits of Getting to School On Time; How to Get Ready For School; How to Make my Home a Place to Get School Work Done; and How to Ask for Help. Attendance lessons were inspired by The Energy Bus initiative and the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors: positive attitude toward work and learning, identifying long and short-term academic, career and social/emotional goals, and the ability to assume responsibility. Additionally, these interventions were chosen as they provided more direct information and guidance for elementary school aged students. These students were followed up with on an individual basis to identify ways in which to personalize their attendance support.
To ensure attendance was being addressed from all angles, calls were made home to increase parent involvement. At the elementary school level, kids have high reliance on their parents. Therefore, the attitudes and efforts made towards attendance needs to be made by students and their families alike. Parents were called by the school counselors to discuss attendance and the importance of attending school.
The written goal to decrease the number of tardies over 30 minutes among 3rd grade students was exceeded by 5%. The number of over 30 minute tardies decreased by 25%, from 59 tardies to 44 tardies. In the 2016-2017 school year, 2nd grade students were responsible for nearly a third of all over 30 minute tardies. Those same students in the 2017-2018 school year, as 3rd grade students, only made up 19% of the school’s total over 30 minute tardies. This shows that by working with these students in different tiers, we can close the gap from one year to the next.
In the future, we would like to incorporate more contact with parents through progress reports home, parent education, and contact with the Principal. Although lessons focused on the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors: the ability to assume responsibility; students at this age level have a high reliance on their parents. Therefore, interventions that address these behaviors need to be extended to the home. Greater parent involvement and understanding of the importance of attendance will help mold the students attitude and ability to come to school and be on time. Additionally, we will identify at risk students throughout the year rather than just at the beginning of the year. Although 77% of targeted students maintained or decreased their number of over 30 minute tardies, there were several students that would have greatly benefited from targeted services at later times of the year. We will continuously collect data at on attendance to highlight student needs and use the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors to improve attendance issues.