AGENDA SUMMARY SHEET Agenda Item: Information about Plans to Address Student Attendance Issues Meeting Date: July 22, 2008 Department: Office of Superintendent Description: This is a description of the current plans to address attendance issues. Action Desired: ______ Approval; ___X__ Discussion; _____ Information Only Overview: One of the goals developed as a result of the Drop Out Summit meetings was goal #4: Develop and implement a system to “drop” students when attendance suggests they have moved from category 2 (potential dropout) to category 1 (dropout). This issue came from the realization that too many students were missing dozens of days of classes. In the district’s attempt to keep students enrolled as long as possible (a wonderful goal), we were inadvertently sending a message that missing 17 or 24 or even 40 days of school in a semester would not keep a student from the possibility of receiving credit. Teachers and administrators expressed their belief that unchecked attendance was a major root cause that impacted the number of dropouts in the district. The topic of student attendance was discussed in Dropout Summit meetings, in High School Redesign meetings as well as in a specific meeting designed to develop strategies to meet goal 4. The participants in the discussions were the following: Dee Engstrom, Judy O’Brien, Melanie Shellberg, Fred Maher, Cyle Forney, Mike Johnson, Todd Barnett, Connee Black, Al Vandenberg, Lois Schreur, Elaine Petersen, Phil Bruner, Ron Diimig, Kathy Hanafan, Tara Botos, Ron Diimig, Ryan Smith, Tom Bond, Amy Hanson, Carmen DeCinque, Ann Mausbach and Martha Bruckner. The major recommendations made and actions taken since the June 11th meeting are included in this report. Future Plans: We will communicate to students, parents, and staff that school attendance is important. We will implement the recommendations at the beginning of the 2008 school year and will evaluate their effectiveness regularly throughout the first semester. Suggested procedures to meet Goal #4 of the Dropout Summit: Develop and implement a system to “drop” high school students when attendance suggests they have moved from category 2 (potential dropout) to category 1 (dropout). Original strategies developed at Dropout Summits: Develop the message that school attendance is not optional Initiate a series of significant steps when attendance moves past a certain limit. Initiate an attendance campaign. Recruit mentors from Rotary, etc. to call or email students daily to check on attendance. Step up social norming process and follow-up publicity strategies. Strategies planned for 2008-2009 at the high schools The district will assign Attendance Officers / Mediation Specialists at each of the high schools to work with students who have attendance problems. The individuals will not only serve high school students grades 10 through 12, but will serve as district Mediation Specialists for students grades K-9. As part of the responsibilities, the Mediation Specialists will also do monitoring of students who have gone through the mediation process. o The Attendance Officer for Thomas Jefferson will serve the following schools: Thomas Jefferson, Wilson Junior High School, Carter Lake, Edison, Franklin, Roosevelt, Rue, Walnut Grove Elementary Schools o The Attendance Officer for Abraham Lincoln will serve the following schools: Abraham Lincoln, Kirn Junior High School, Bloomer, Crescent, Gunn, Hoover, Lewis and Clark, Longfellow, Pusey, Washington Elementary Schools Each high school will assign building representatives to oversee attendance issues related to first year grade 9 students, at least until Mediation has been requested. When Mediation is requested, the Attendance Officer will become involved with 9th grade students. o Ninth grade students who are absent on days 1-3 and who are on the “Attendance Watch List” should be contacted by a school representative. o Ninth grade students will generally stay in classes even after serious absences, although other strategies (Success Center, Credit Recovery, Night School) might be recommended at the same time. o Prior to start of school, junior high school interventionists will get the WATCH LIST of the most serious attendance issues for students entering 9th grade. We should do something proactive for these students this summer, and get going on the list almost immediately on Day 1 if absences occur. The District will establish specific procedures for students with attendance issues in grades beyond first year 9th grade students. o Students who are absent on days 1-3 and who are on the “Attendance Watch List” should be contacted by a school representative. o Students with 15 unverified full day absences (or partial days – 4 or more classes) in a semester will be removed from traditional classes and placed in some transitional program designed to get the student back on track for success. The transitional programs may be at the school site, in credit recovery sessions, in night school, or at the Kanesville Transition Center. o Students with 15 verified absences for full day or partial day absences (4 periods or more), will meet with an Attendance Committee (administrator, nurse, attendance officer, counselor, interventionist, SRO, parent, others as needed) to determine if credit can be salvaged in classes the student is attending or if medical issues would necessitate additional assistance for the student out of school. Arrangements will be made to meet the individual needs of the student. The student must meet the agreements with the Attendance Committee in order to remain in traditional classroom settings. (Note: the principal or designee can overrule the need to have a student go to the Attendance Committee if he/she believes that there are extenuating circumstances.) o Students will 15 absences for 3 or fewer periods will require a building-level decision about whether or not a shortened schedule would be in the best interests of the student. A conference will be held with student, teacher(s), parent, and administrator to see if credit can be saved. The student will be expected to follow the recommendations of the administrator after the meeting. o Students (and parents) will be given information about full day (or half day) absences on day 3, 6, 9, 12, and 15. (See Proposed list at the end of this document.) o An appeal process will be established for students and parents to seek a second opinion at the building level. o It will be possible for students to make up work in classes missed while in a transition program if there is a reasonable way to assure that the student is learning major content. Proposed List of Actions Related to Truancy (Unverified Absences): 3 absences = Notification (Personal Contact) * 6 absences = Interventionist Involvement / Counselor Involvement * 9 absences = Interventionist/ Counselor / Parent Meeting, perhaps to restructure schedule * 12 absences = County Attorney, Department of Education, Academic Center Involvement * 15 absences = Removal from traditional classrooms at building OR restructure schedule* * Different Letter Goes Home at Each Event Above. Proposed List of Actions Related to Verified Absences: 3 absences = Notification (Personal Contact) ** 6 absences = Interventionist Involvement / Counselor Involvement ** 9 absences = Interventionist/ Counselor / Parent Meeting, perhaps to restructure schedule ** (May include manifestation hearing, permission to contact employer, notification of Social Security, attendance plan, establishment of attendance mentor.) 12 absences = County Attorney, Department of Education, Academic Center Involvement ** 15 absences = Removal from traditional classrooms at building if appropriate, decision for home bound tutor if appropriate, OR restructure schedule** ** Different Letter Goes Home at Each Event Above. The committee recommended other considerations / things TO DO: Consider a PR blitz during last part of summer: Be in School. Attendance is Important. Include print media, Chamber of Commerce, calls to students with attendance issues. Consider (re) sending letter to doctors about the importance of attendance. Find process through which – if kids can’t afford doctor, we attempt to bring them in to see the school nurse so absence can be excused. Develop WATCH LIST for attendance for each high school and alternative center. (Top 35 9th graders; perhaps top 35 10th, 11th, 12th graders.) Meet with police representatives concerning use of resource officers in limiting truancy. Develop letters related to attendance (all grade levels). Hold teachers accountable for keeping accurate track of absences. Determine if and how we might use the Resource Officer to assist with truancy. Determine processes through which driver’s license is turned in if student leaves school. Determine ways that the Pinnacle grade book software and new “Messenger” can assist in the process. Determine how system software can ease the process and compile helpful reports. Recommendation by the committee concerning elementary school and Junior high school: District needs to establish and implement specific procedures for students with attendance issues, grades K-6 and for grades 7-8. A sample set of procedures could include letter after 4 absences, letter after 7 absences, potential mediation after 9 absences (unless there is justifiable reason for absences). Building representative should send out letters with copy to Mediation Specialists.
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