PRESS RELEASE: Monday, Feb. 29, 2016
What: TPS launches “Attendance Counts” campaign to increase student attendance
When: Begins this week
Where: Tulsa Public Schools
TULSA, Okla. – Tulsa Public Schools this week is launching Attendance Counts, a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of regular attendance at school. TPS is partnering with an organization called In Class Today to reach out to parents and guardians of students with frequent absences through a letter campaign. This initiative is research-based and proven effective in encouraging families to get children to school on time every day.
Each year an estimated 5 million to 7.5 million students nationally miss nearly a month of school, which puts them at significant risk of falling behind academically and failing to graduate from high school. Chronic absenteeism—or missing at least 10 percent of school days in a school year for any reason, excused or unexcused—is a primary cause of low academic achievement and a powerful predictor of those students who may eventually drop out of school.
“All children deserve the opportunity to develop their full academic and social potential,” said Deborah A. Gist, TPS superintendent. “It’s important that students, parents and guardians understand the full impact of absences. For example, students who miss two days of school each month lose a full month of learning each year. By working to eliminate chronic absenteeism in our schools, we can improve academic achievement, increase graduation rates, and prepare students for long-term success.”
Attendance Counts is designed to highlight the cumulative effect that absences have on a student’s entire academic career. Here’s how the letter campaign will work:
· In mid-February, the first of three mailings will be sent to the parents of 60 percent of TPS students with the most absences during the 2015-16 school year as of Jan. 18, 2016.
· The parent/guardian will receive the number of absences and a message about how even a small number of absences can add up to a lot of lost learning time. (See attached sample letters for an example).
· Additional mailings will be sent in March and April, and will reflect the most up-to-date evidence on absence-reducing messaging. Letters will be delivered in English and Spanish.
To help eliminate chronic absenteeism, parents and families should:
1. Make getting to school on time every day a priority.
2. Talk with their children about the importance of school attendance from an early age.
3. When necessary, create a safe space for children to share what’s keeping them from participating in school on a regular basis.
4. Have a back-up plan for getting children to school when there are difficulties with transportation, family illness or other challenges.
5. Schedule doctor and other appointments for after-school hours whenever possible.
6. Monitor school attendance to make sure children are is in class every day.
7. Contact the school to discuss supports and services that can help children maintain regular attendance.
About In Class Today
In Class Today is a social enterprise that the Student Social Support R&D (S3) Lab has incubated within Harvard University and spun off as an independent entity in November 2015. In Class Today’s mission is to reduce absences among at-risk Pre-K-12 students by 1,000,000 days per year by implementing proven, scalable and insanely high return-on-investment absence-reduction interventions. This is achievable given the unfortunate lack of proven or cost-effective alternatives available to schools, and the proven impact and low cost of the absence-reduction interventions developed by the S3 Lab.
In Class Today’s first product is a mail-based intervention that incorporates findings from experiments the S3 Lab has conducted with more than 287,000 at-risk students in some of the largest U.S. school districts. We are developing and testing strategies to amplify this effect, including targeting additional false beliefs, layering in text messages, and using predictive analytics to identify the most opportune times to communicate with parents and students.