In an effort to try to boost daily average attendance, Clark County Public Schools began a “Focus on Attendance” initiative this year.
The program recognizes the school with the highest attendance figures for each 20-school-day-month, and also rewards students in all schools who have perfect attendance during the same period.
The winning school each month will receive an attendance flag to be flown outside the school, and an attendance banner to be hung inside the school. The flag and banner will be passed from school to school each month.
Students who have perfect attendance each month, including no late arrivals or early dismissals, will receive free food coupons from several local restaurants.
District Administrator Barbara Disney said statistics show how important good attendance is for student learning.
“Effective learning doesn’t occur if your attendance isn’t good. Nothing can replace face-to-face time between the students and teachers,” Disney said. “Research shows that students who are in school most of the time do better on standardized tests than those who are absent more. Being tardy also affects a child’s learning. Students who are 10 minutes late every day will miss 30-hours of instruction every year.”
Student attendance is also important to school districts financially because their state SEEK funding is partially based on average daily attendance, so high absentees result in a reduction of funds.
Although the district has raised its attendance averages over the last three years, from 93.64 percent in the 2008-2009 school year, to 94.10 percent in 2010-2011, the district still lost almost $200,000 in SEEK funding last school year due to student absences.
The district’s attendance goal for this year is 95 percent, Disney said, and meeting that goal would mean an additional $500,000 in SEEK funds available to the district for use in the classroom.
At the end of the first school-month, the attendance average was at 96.13 percent, but fell a point to 95.13 at the end of the second school-month.
Disney said it was important to get off to a good start each year, because attendance typically falls during the winter months.
“The first two months and the last one are usually good ones for us, but when the winter months get here and the flu bug and bad weather hit, we know we are going to drop, so the first two or three months are critical,” Disney said. “We’re hoping this initiative will help to get our numbers up, not only early, but over the entire year, because it is very important that the kids are in school and on-time as much as possible.”
Pilot View Elementary School was the first to receive the flag and banner for its attendance performance in the second month. The third month winner will be announced Nov. 1 at the beginning of the fourth school-month.
“Hopefully everybody will get a chance to fly the flag to let their community know they had the best attendance sometime during the school year,” Disney said.
Contact Bob Flynn at email@example.com.