CMSD NEWS BUREAU
With one grading period left in the school year, CMSD’s attendance campaign is on track to achieve its goal of reducing chronic absenteeism by 10 percent.
But the margin is close; that fourth quarter will be critical.
The “Get to School! You Can Make It!” campaign, launched in July, is designed to prevent students from missing 10 or more days in a school year. Students who had missed more than seven days by the end of the third quarter were considered to be at risk of exceeding the threshold.
When the third quarter ended this month, 53.2 percent of District students had missed seven or fewer days. That compares with an average of 47.3 percent at the same point the previous three years. In a district with 38,525 students, the difference is 2,273 more students.
For CMSD to remain on a course to hit the target, more than 52.6 percent had to be on track in attendance at the end of the quarter.
Chronic absenteeism is a problem facing schools nationwide
. Some districts define chronic as missing 20 or more days, but Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon said CMSD wanted to set a more rigid standard.
The campaign message is plastered on billboards and yard signs and featured on radio spots. Volunteers have canvassed neighborhoods to talk to families, and they work phones on Thursday nights, calling parents to see if the District can assist with issues that make it difficult for their children to get to school.
The Cleveland Browns have served as a lead partner, with contributions that include having players visit schools and record videos and automated phone calls and with a pro-attendance message. In a call made to all students’ homes Sunday night, all-pro offensive tackle Joe Thomas encouraged students to keep going to school during this three-day week before spring break.
In December, the Cleveland Browns Foundation and the American Dairy Association Midwest awarded $10,000 to Wade Park School
for achieving the largest increase in breakfasts served among participating CMSD schools during a week in late November. The schools added hot breakfasts as an attendance incentive.
On Dec. 17, the day before the first semester ended, McDonald’s franchisee Herb Washington gave 207 bicycles to students
who had dramatically improved their attendance and academic achievement from the first half of the previous school year. That was one bike for a sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grader in each of the District’s PreK-8 and K-8 schools.
Radio One is sponsoring a series of surprise “pop-up” parties for schools with outstanding attendance.
In the past, nearly two-thirds of CMSD schools reported that more than half of their students missed 10 or more days in a year. District data shows that CMSD students with 10 or more absences are 9 percent less likely to meet Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee, required for promotion to fourth grade. They score an average of 12 points lower on state reading tests and 15 points lower in math; high school students are 34 percent less likely to graduate.
To learn more and sign a pledge supporting the campaing, go to get2schoolcleveland.com