When you’re a kid, you don’t see how much work your parents put into getting you out the door to school on time every day. I know I had no clue (retroactively, thanks Mom!). It’s not easy, especially for a single parent, or two working-parent households, which together make up the vast majority of homes today.

But even occasional absences can cause real issues. A previous Oakland Local blog for Attendance Awareness Month laid these out. So we asked some Oakland principals what they’re doing to increase attendance. Here are three responses:

Principal Cliff Hong of Roosevelt Middle School knew that too many students were missing school, but it wasn’t until he analyzed the data that he saw the picture clearly. As many as 15 percent of students were missing nearly a month of school every year. Within a year, however, Hong cut his absentee rate in half and saw his school’s standardized test scores climb by 30 scale points. How did they do it? Two years ago, they established an attendance team that meets weekly and tracks each chronically absent student by name. They assign each student to an attendance team member who follows up with that student and family to problem solve around attendance. These efforts led to a reduction of chronically absent students from 15 to 7 percent in one year.

Paulette Smith, principal at Joaquin Miller Elementary, and her teachers stress the importance of attendance to parents at Back-To-School Night and to students at their Wolverine Pride Assembly, where they recently showed the OUSD’s new “I’m an Oakland School Kid” attendance video (over 80,000 hits, nice!). Principal Smith and the attendance clerk also recognize classes with attendance rates of 97 percent or higher at monthly assemblies.

Kate Nicol, head of school at Vincent Academy, described several approaches. They give parents attendance tickets so that they have a visual reminder of how many absences their child has had during the year. When a child has earned perfect attendance for a month, they get a brand new t-shirt that they can wear on a special day once a month when the school celebrates their attendance success. They are also handing out “Ready Freddy” stickers each morning at the gate to kids who are on time. The kids wear the stickers all day and some are collecting them in little notebooks—pretty cute!

To Find Out More

GO Public Schools is posting school approaches to attendance on our Facebook page—Like us to get updates in your feed on this and many other important issues in Oakland schools!

The awesome Attendance Toolkit created by the Oakland Education Cabinet for schools is available at http://atschool.alcoda.org/attendance_initiatives. It has fliers, incentive ideas, assessments, and more—check it out.

GO Public Schools Leadership Center and its partners are making attendance the topic of our first Oakland Achieves Focus Report on improving what matters for our children’s success in school. Sign up here to be the first to be notified when the report is released this year.



Editor’s Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland. See our guidelines.

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