HOPE – Hope Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Bobby Hart joins 20 other Arkansas school district superintendents of schools in a 2019-2020 school year initiative designed to prioritize attendance in public schools and raise public awareness of the financial and academic impacts of lax school attendance.
Dr. Hart has committed the HPS through the Superintendents Call to Action of the Attendance Works initiative begun three years ago in the Hope district.
“HPS is proud to be a part of this informational campaign,” Hart said. “Chronic absenteeism impacts all schools. Teachers and staff plan lessons and activities daily that impact learning. When any class time is missed it has a negative effect on learning.”
The Hope Public Schools launched the “Strive for Five” attendance initiative on all five campuses in the 2016-2017 academic year with the goal of having 70 percent of students districtwide absent five or fewer days per semester.
Initial data for the first nine week grading period of the initiative, as reported at Hope High School, showed 42 students with perfect attendance and 452 students with five or fewer days absent.
Qualifying students on each campus receive an incentive that is related to the culture of the campus, i.e., semester test exemption at HHS.
Themes for the initiative districtwide have ranged from “An Empty Desk Can’t Learn,” “Learn ToEarn” and “Be True to Your School” to the current “It’s Your Time” emphasis upon the value of time spent in class relative to later earnings upon graduation.
The Hope Police Department has also participated through its youth crime intervention program.
The initiative relies upon parental engagement at its roots, Hart said.
“Please work with your child’s teacher and campus to encourage school attendance,” he said.
The Attendance Works program is a national and state initiative that works to advance student success and help close equity gaps by reducing chronic absence.
“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,” Jonathan Raymond, executive director of the National Association of School Superintendents said. “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.”
The local initiative is directly tied to district academic goals such as bringing all students to grade level in literacy by third grade, a key indicator of later academic success that is driven by student attendance.
By middle and high school, chronic absence becomes a red flag that a student may not graduate from high school, according to the Attendance Works program.
A total of 803 superintendents of public school districts across the nation have joined the Call to Action initiative, according to Attendance Works information.