THE CHALLENGE: 3 DAYS = $34 MILLION
Central Texas schools have more student absences than the state average at every grade. Because schools are funded based on attendance, if we could increase average attendance by just three days, Central Texas districts would gain $34 million in annual revenue from the state that could be used to improve educational outcomes.
An E3 Alliance analysis found that there are 2.4 million student absences in Central Texas per year. Half of Central Texas students miss more than six class days per year, and account for 85 percent of all absences. When we look at absences by grade for middle and high school, we see a big jump in absences between 8th and 9th grade – 9th graders are missing three days more on average. And attendance is highly correlated with performance: those 9th graders who end up being retained in grade have four times as many absences (almost five weeks) as their peers who are promoted, and are ten times as likely to drop out.
THE SOLUTION: “MISSING SCHOOL MATTERS” – THE CENTRAL TEXAS ATTENDANCE CAMPAIGN
Central Texas superintendents chose increased attendance as the number one way the community could make a difference in our schools because of what we’re calling a “Triple Bottom Line” benefit:
- Students can learn when in class
- Teachers have more time to teach
- Increased revenue to districts
Since the spring of 2011, E3 Alliance has been spearheading a regional approach to increase student attendance. Together with the Austin Area Research Organization (AARO), Central Texas Education Funders, Incite Marketing, Emmis Communications and participating school districts across the region, our goal is to increase attendance by a minimum of two percentage points, or an average of three school days per student. Two percentage points may not seem like much, but it will mean $34 million for our area school districts. And the most important thing is that more students will be in their classrooms, learning and preparing for their future, and for our future together as a region. Missing school matters.