Superintendent Announces Attendance Challenge on First Day

Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014  
Contact: Chip Partner
585.262.8373 (o)
585.474.6296 (m)



SUPERINTENDENT CHALLENGES COMMUNITY TO ACHIEVE 95% ATTENDANCE ON FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
District announces expanded attendance efforts for 2014-15


In an effort to start the 2014-15 school year on a strong note, Superintendent Bolgen Vargas, Ed.D., set a District goal of reaching 95
percent attendance on the first day of school.

“We might not be able to cure poverty in a single day, but we can get at least 95 percent of our children to attend school on the first
day,” Dr. Vargas said. “Improving attendance is a critical first step toward boosting student achievement so that Rochester children succeed in the global economy.”

Research shows that chronic absenteeism, which is defined as missing 10 percent or more of school days per school year, is directly linked to low educational achievement. As part of the announcement, the District released data showing the strong link between 95 percent attendance and student achievement. In an analysis of the spring 2014 Grades 3-8 English Language Arts and Math assessments in the chart below, as the attendance rate increases, higher proportions of students met proficiency standards, scoring at
Levels 3 and 4.

· In ELA, of the group of students with 90 percent attendance or below, 49 met proficiency; adding students with 90 - 95 percent
attendance, the proficiency number increases to 119 students. Including students with 95 percent attendance or higher, the total is 480.

· In Math, of the group of students with 90 percent attendance or below, 63 met proficiency; adding students with 90 - 95 percent attendance, the proficiency number increases to 186 students. Including students with 95 percent attendance or higher, the total is 599.
Chart
Dr. Vargas described the 95 percent target as a “stretch goal.” In 2012, the District’s first-day attendance was 83.9 percent. Last
year, the first-day attendance was 84.33 percent with two schools—World of Inquiry School No. 58 and the Leadership Academy for Young Men—achieving attendance higher than 95 percent.
Expanded Community-Wide Initiative
The Superintendent’s challenge kicks off an expanded community-wide effort focused on improving student attendance.

· The District will continue the monthly attendance blitzes with visits to homes of chronically absent students, this year from 13 elementary schools, an increase from eight last year. The visits focus on students in pre-kindergarten through grade three. This helps to build good attendance habits at an early age and supports the District’s academic priority of helping students read on grade level by third grade.

· The effort kicked off last Thursday with a record-breaking number of 66 volunteers. District employees and community partners visited the homes of students who were chronically absent last year. School supplies and welcome information were delivered to the homes of these students, and the District has been working with their families to resolve past attendance issues.

· Working with the Ad Council of Rochester, the District will unveil a community impact campaign in mid-September aimed at improving student attendance in city schools. The campaign will include direct support for the community’s attendance initiative
and advertising to raise awareness of the critical link between attendance in early grades and academic achievement.

· A group of key community leaders — including the city and county governments, United Way, Rochester Area Community Foundation, and other non-profit social services agencies — meet each month to share data and strategies that promote student
attendance, while coordinating efforts to reduce the barriers that prevent families from getting their children to school.

Transportation Support
All families of elementary school children who live more than a mile and a half from their school qualify for free “yellow bus” transportation. However, for these families who registered this week, there can be a delay in getting bus routes scheduled. The District is recruiting community volunteers to give rides to these children until their bus schedules are complete. To volunteer to be a driver, call 262-8378.

Through its attendance efforts, Dr. Vargas said the District intends to achieve two objectives. “First, we need all of our families to understand that it’s crucial for children to attend school every day. Missing even a couple of days each month can put struggling students behind their peers,” he said. “Second, we want families to know that our District and community are here to help reduce any
barriers they have in getting their children to school."