Originally Published: August 23, 2018 8:15 p.m.
“Just showing up is half the battle.”
This oft-repeated quip from the famous comedian and director Woody Allen bears a lot of truth, particularly when it comes to the role “showing up” has on a student’s academic success.
On Monday, Aug. 27, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Prescott Unified School District and law enforcement leaders, including the head of Yavapai Juvenile Justice Center, invite Granite Mountain and Mile High Middle School parents to attend a form titled “Why Attendance Matters.” The forum will be held in the Mile High auditorium located at 300 S. Granite St.
The event moderator will be Prescott Unified School District Assistant Superintendent Mardi Read. Juvenile Justice Center Director Scott Mabery will be on the panel along with school administrators from both Granite Mountain and Mile High Middle School.
The focus of the hour-long meeting will be to inform parents about why being in class on a regular basis makes a difference to the ability of a child to learn and master academic concepts. As an incentive to attend, parents who sign-in will be treated to door prizes: gift cards to area merchants.
Prescott Unified and Chino Valley Unified School District are in the third year of the “Wrap-around Restorative Attendance Program” piloted in these districts in August 2016 by local nonprofit Prescott Area Restorative Initiatives. The program is partially funded through a $3,500 grant from the Arizona Community Foundation of Yavapai County.
The aim of the project is to track students who in the prior school year missed 10 percent or more school days unrelated to illness, as well as monitoring new students who missed that many days in the first quarter of the year. The school districts have assigned personnel to report absences to the program leaders.
Through this program, teams of volunteers are assigned to meet with families to talk about the issues that are preventing their children from getting to school before these students are deemed to be truant and they are referred to the juvenile justice system.
State law requires students have no more than 18 unexcused absences in a school year, or 10 percent of a 180-day school year.
In their initial pitch to Prescott Unified School District’s Governing Board, Foss and her partner Jim Gandee said their volunteers work with families to find out the triggers for absences so they can then come up with creative ways to get them back on track.
Part of the event will be an annual data report collected from the two schools over the course of this pilot project, said WRAP Initiative Director Cynthia Foss.
“We have had some good results by focusing on attendance over the last two years, and have expanded the volunteer support to each school to work with attendance,” Foss said.
National statistics speak to the value of students who “show up.”
The National Center for Education Statistics cites that high school dropouts tend to have high levels of absenteeism throughout their childhood. Students who attend school regularly achieve at higher levels than those with lots of absences.
Foss cited statistics from a 2017 Georgetown University report.
“More than 7 million students nationwide miss three weeks or more of school, a level of absenteeism linked to significantly diminished academic performance. A fifth of the nation’s schools report that 20 percent or more of their students are chronically absent,” the report documented.
The program is free and open to the public.
Follow Nanci Hutson on Twitter @HutsonNanci. Reach her at 928-445-3333 ext. 2041.
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