September may have been Attendance Awareness Month, but school leaders attest that attendance is important all year round, as missing one day could hinder a child’s opportunity to learn.
Clinton City Schools placed an incentive program in the system just to help motivate students and teachers to perfect attendance. Earlier in the year, Superintendent Dr. Wesley Johnson, in partnership with principals signed a proclamation for Attendance Awareness Month in September.
The proclamation was made with the goal of ending chronic absence, in which a child will miss several days of school out of the month. Principals are currently split on whether or not the initiative really helped out attendance rates.
The initiative, set in motion by Johnson, is a Multi-Tiered System of Support. The leader for Clinton City Schools provided essential days for attendance with 20 day intervals designed by the MTSS. It is based on a month to month account with incentives given to perfect attendees each month.
All schools in the Clinton school system have different attendance incentives. Some schools are still working out the kinks and figuring out what will drive the students to show up every day for school.
“Students were awarded free donuts courtesy of Dunkin Donuts,” says Robert Turlington, Sampson Middle School Principal. “We will also do a drawing for our perfect attendance, of which we have 246, for special PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) prizes and hopefully donations from the community.”
According to Turlington, the 246 students that will be getting perfect attendance prizes account for almost 30 percent of the school’s population.
“Teachers were given gift cards and tickets to the Lions Club Fish Fry Courtesy of their Principal for their perfect attendance during the 20-day period and since the beginning of the year,” Turlington continued. “ I’ll probably buy some movie passes to help promote this as well for the next 20-day session and use the experience as a morale-busting, team-building outside activity.”
Kerr Elementary School has also had success with their attendance incentive program.
“Our students with perfect attendance received a certificate (Attendance H.E.R.O. certificate), a perfect attendance pencil, and a superhero necklace,” Greg Dirks, Kerr Elementary School Principal stated. “They also got their picture taken for our perfect attendance bulletin board in the front hallway. Students were recognized at the award ceremony by standing.”
Kerr Elementary School did not leave out their teachers for these awards.
“Teachers with perfect attendance are recognized at staff meetings and treated to “sweets and grease” treats,” Dirks added.
According to Dirks, the attendance rate for September for students, not including Pre-K, was 96.7 percent. In October, the rate was 94.6 percent. The school did take into account that some students had to be out to have their Kindergarten health assessment completed. The overall school attendance rate for the year has been 95.7 percent.
According to Sunset Avenue Principal Vanessa Brown, students with perfect attendance receive rewards by the month, but there must be no late check in or early check-outs. The teachers are recognized for their perfect attendance and the school may be thinking about doing a monthly gift card drawing.
However, Brown does not see much of a difference in attendance since the proclamation.
“I don’t see any difference in attendance in student or teacher attendance,” Brown stated.
Brown is interested in looking into addressing the matter further, however.
According to the proclamation signed earlier this year, attendance is actionable and some districts are increasing attendance by recognizing these achievements, whether it is due to good or improved attendance. The proclamation also states that it is important to engage with students and families while monitoring attendance data and practice. It mentions that it is important to provide personalized early outreach if needed.
Perhaps, the school system will see greater results by the end of the school year in June.
Brendaly Vega Davis can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2588