As we begin 2019, I have been reflecting on the work we accomplished last year. This is an important and rewarding exercise. And the time is now to think about how these efforts can push us to reach even higher in the months ahead.
Last summer, I was invited to participate in the Clark County Truancy Project. Additionally, River was invited to participate in Vancouver Public School’s Attendance Project Initiative. The aim for both is to become more strategic about relaying the importance to regular school attendance. It is not terribly complicated: success in school and graduating on time is connected to regular attendance. The work of both groups is to engage students and families who have been referred numerous times for school attendance issues. Typically, the focus is on those students who attend less than 80% of the year.
It seems these numbers sneak up quickly on students and families. If you are only missing a day here or a period there, you may not see the larger picture. Missing two classes per month in the course of a September – June school year does indeed add up to 20 absences. Keeping in mind that we have 180 school days in the typical year, our systems consider this level chronic.
As I have stated in River’s School Improvement Plan: Our goal is 90/90 by 2020. This means that 90% of our students are on time and in class 90% of the school year in 2020. Although we are not there yet, we are getting close. Our team believes that if we begin by addressing morning tardies (e.g. when large numbers of students arrive late in the morning).
At Columbia River High School, we do fairly well with daily attendance. Below we have some data to share and to celebrate (September to December attendance rates):
- Class of 2019: 215 Seniors have a daily attendance rate of 85% or better.
- Class of 2020: 203 Juniors have a daily attendance rate of 85% or better.
- Class of 2021: 217 Sophomores have a daily attendance rate of 90% or better There are 291 students in grade 10 at River this year.
- Class of 2022: 207 Freshmen have a daily attendance rate 95% or better; add 60 more students with 90% or better and our 9th grade is off to a terrific start.
We are beginning January, 2019 with our “Arrive at 25” campaign. Very simply, all students have to do is arrive for first period at 7:25 AM. The theory of action is that if students make the effort to arrive 5 minutes before period 1, we will reduce and perhaps eliminate the “tardy bell entrance” for those students who are running late. Class will begin at 7:30, but won’t it be great to arrive early and eager!
We acknowledge that students are not always in control of their morning schedules. Some students rely on carpools. Some students have siblings or other family to care for and to help get prepared for the day. We also acknowledge those who are late because of coffee run and made choices along the way to school that allowed precious morning moments to escape. (Lattes and mochas and specialty coffees are available in the Upper Commons by the way, and for a half the cost of our local shops!)
With a concerted effort, we believe we can improve and get to 90/90. I hope everyone is enjoying the Winter Break. I look forward to seeing you at 7:25 on January 7, 2019!