Research has found that 1 in 10 kindergarten and first-grade students nationwide miss nearly a month of school each year.
Attendance is important because students are more likely to succeed in academics when they attend school consistently. In addition to falling behind in academics, students who are not in school on a regular basis are more likely to get into trouble with the law and cause problems in their communities as they get older.
In spring 2016, Starting Strong partnered with Count ME In, Ocean Avenue Elementary School, and Reiche Elementary School to establish two walking school buses focused on improving student attendance. After several months, students who were recruited for the walking school bus showed marked increase in regular attendance.
A 2008 study conducted by the Rodel Community Scholars at Arizona State University that tracked students from kindergarten through high school found that dropout patterns were linked with poor attendance, beginning in kindergarten.
Schools are most effective in achieving high attendance rates when parents, school leaders, and community members work together to focus on reducing absences and truancy, and keeping kids in schools. That’s why Starting Strong works on overarching strategies to improve attendance in early learning programs and Portland elementary schools by involving the entire community, which includes:
Raising awareness about the impact of chronic student absenteeism with parents and the community
Applying and promoting the Count ME In model at schools and early learning centers
Establishing walking school buses to encourage school attendance
District-wide, all Portland elementary schools decreased chronic absences. Specifically, chronic absence decreased 2% in 2 years: From 7.5% in 2013-2014, to 7.3% in 2014-2015, and to 5.5% in 2015-2016.
Starting Strong is the early age component of Portland ConnectED, a community-wide partnership that works to ensure the success of every child from cradle to career.