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Record-breaking 803 Superintendents Pledge to Prioritize Attendance in 2019-20 School Year

As reported by Attendance Works

SAN FRANCISCO, October 16, 2019 – Today Attendance Works and nine national Attendance Awareness Campaign partners are pleased to announce that 803 superintendents across the country have signed the Superintendents Call to Action. These local superintendents are raising their voices to lead the effort to improve attendance starting in the early grades.

The top ten states with the most superintendents who signed the Call to Action are: California (133), Oregon (97), Kentucky (49), Washington (49), Connecticut (35), Georgia (35), West Virginia (27), Mississippi (26), Iowa (25), and Michigan (25). Find the complete list of superintendents on pages 3-11 of this press release. The names are also listed on our website.

We salute the superintendents who have launched this new school year with a commitment to:

  1. Prioritize Attendance: By making reducing chronic absence a top priority in their districts from the superintendent to the teachers, from the school staff to the families.
  2. Mobilize the Community: By ensuring student attendance is a broadly owned and widely shared civic priority. That includes engaging families and tapping civic and elected leaders, local businesses, health providers, housing authorities, clergy members and more.
  3. Drive with Data: By using data to determine how many and which students are chronically absent in each grade, school and population, then intervening to ensure absences don’t add up.

“When the majority of urban and rural public school families live at or below the federal poverty level, and many parents are working two or three jobs to make ends meet, getting students to school every day can be a challenge,” said Jonathan Raymond, executive director of the National Association of School Superintendents. “The Superintendents Call to Action offers online resources to support district leaders in their work with community partners to help families and students overcome barriers to getting to school.”

Nearly 8 million students in the nation were chronically absent in the 2015-16 school year, missing nearly a month of school in excused and unexcused absences that erode student achievement. Children living in poverty are two to three times more likely to be chronically absent, although many lack the resources to make up for lost time in class. Students from communities of color (African American, Native American, Pacific Islander, Latino) and those with disabilities are also disproportionately affected, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education.

“Across the country, local superintendents have pledged to guarantee all students have a chance to learn and succeed by making sure every day counts, starting in kindergarten,” said Hedy N. Chang executive director of Attendance Works. “By determining who shows signs of chronic absence starting in the first month of school, schools and community partners can work together to help students get to class before they have missed so much instruction that they require academic remediation.”

Attendance Works defines chronic absence as missing 10 percent of the school year, in excused and unexcused absences and suspensions. Too many absences in the early grades can leave children unable to master reading by the end of third grade, a key indicator of school success. By middle and high school, chronic absence becomes a red flag that a student may not graduate from high school.

The Superintendents Call to Action is a component of the Attendance Awareness Campaign, led by Attendance Works and nine national non-profits.

Attendance Works is a national and state initiative that works to advance student success and help close equity gaps by reducing chronic absence. Learn more at www.attendanceworks.org.

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