TCSS celebrates National Attendance Awareness Month
Published 4:00 pm Wednesday, September 25, 2019
LaGRANGE — Troup County School System (TCSS) joins the nationwide force of school districts across the country celebrating Attendance Awareness Month. Hosted by Attendance Works, September marks a national effort to highlight the importance of student attendance. It is designed to raise community awareness about the value of regular school attendance in hopes of reducing chronic absenteeism.
The school system recognizes that good attendance is essential to academic success and enhancing learning potential.
“TCSS is focused on enhancing the learning experience for each student,” Troup County School System superintendent Dr. Brian Shumate said. “To do that, they have to be in school. I am a firm believer in time on task. When students are present and focused every day, we can make progress in every area. When students are absent, they miss valuable instructional time and opportunities for overall growth, and it is more difficult for them to meet high expectations we expect as a school district and community.”
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One example Shumate shared that boosted high school attendance rates, improved student grades and lowered behavior infractions were the partnerships between TCSS high schools and local automotive dealerships.
For the third year in a row, three local car dealers signed on to gift one new car each to one TCSS high school as a year-end incentive for students to succeed throughout the school year. One student from each high school is announced the winner during a school assembly drawing in May. To qualify, students receive ‘tickets’ for meeting the following criteria, attendance, no more than five excused or unexcused absences; grades, students must receive all passing grades; and behavior, the students should have no behavior referrals.
Each high school announced one winner and attendance statistics while students celebrated at pep rally events.
“Since the incentives have been put into place there has been a 45% reduction in absences and a 31% reduction in referrals over a three-year period,” Callaway High School principal Jonathan Laney said to his student body.
This has resulted in the school regaining 30 instructional days and administrators regaining 20 additional support days.
This school year, the automotive dealerships are partnering up once again with local Troup County schools. All Pro Automotive is sponsoring Callaway High School, Kia of LaGrange is sponsoring Troup High School and LaGrange Toyota is sponsoring LaGrange High School.
More recently, the Georgia Department of Education highlighted TCSS for the return on investment by implementing Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) in some of the schools. One PBIS component focuses on attendance. For instance, Berta Weathersbee Elementary has regained 55 instructional days thanks to a 76% reduction in discipline referrals and an 86% reduction in out of school suspensions. Callaway Middle School has seen a 51% reduction in office referrals, 63% reduction with in-school suspensions and a 49%reduction in out-of-school suspensions. This means the middle school has regained 67 instruction days.
Chronic absences from school – described as missing 18 or more days for any reason – can negatively impact student performance. Nationally, 5 million to 7.5 million students miss nearly a month of school in both excused and unexcused absences each year. According to attendanceworks.org, chronic absences as early as preschool and kindergarten can predict lower reading scores by the time a student reaches third grade. By middle school, it is a warning sign that a student will likely fail key classes and potentially later drop out of high school.
To show the importance of attendance, some local schools have implemented a monthly reward system for students and parents, while others are increasing parent communication and reiterating the school board attendance policy while TCSS is hosting a social media campaign and creating an attendance awareness video to be displayed on social media and community events.