05 Sep

What a kickoff!

Susan

Yesterday Missing School Matters kicked off the 2013-2014 campaign (and Attendance Awareness Month!) at IBC Bank in east Austin.

Susan Dawson, president of E3 Alliance, started off with the startling facts about attendance in Central Texas – for example, did you know there are 2.4 million student absences in Central Texas per year (for over 300,000 students)?  She also shared that fortunately, the Missing School Matters campaign as well as other efforts seem to be making progress – 2012, the first year of the campaign, had the fewest absences in over 10 years – saving schools $7.5 million dollars!

Next, Dr. Meria Carstarphen, the superintendent of AISD, echoed the importance of the campaign to the region and the dedication and efforts that are in place on Austin campuses.  She emphasized the importance of keeping the roughly $40 per day that each student absence costs a school.  Next, this video of Round Rock’s Stony Point Middle school (last year’s Get School national attendance champions) was shown before principal Albert Hernandez got up to discuss the positive impact that the campaign had on the students.

Dr. Amy Wiseman gave her presentation on the reasons that students are absent – over half of which are potentially preventable.  Even though the study used self-reported data, the second most common reason for absence (5% of absences) was students willing to admit that they skipped!  Other common reasons that can be easily avoided are travel, routine medical and dental appointments, and suspensions.

Lauren Paver, task force co-chair, gave an overview of the Missing School Matters taskforce – our campaign to generate broad awareness with parents and in the community.  Task force members shared ways that they had reached out:  from putting up posters at the YMCA, giving a presentation at the PTA meeting, to telling church groups, to having a conversation with the local constable, every bit of awareness helps!  Resources for spreading the word (including posters, infographics, news articles, and PSAs) can be found in our Campaign Toolkit.  Speakers from the task force can also be requested by emailing info@e3alliance.org

Finally, for our big closer, Bree-Anna Dominguez got up to remind us all why it’s worth all this effort.  A former student at Manor High School, she  found out she was pregnant during her senior year, and her morning sickness extinguished her motivation to go to school.  Luckily her Communities in Schools advocate Krista was there for her, keeping her motivated every step of the way and convincing her to finish high school.  Bree-Anna found her strength and finished high school on time – eliciting applause from the audience and a beaming smile from Bree-Anna!  She serves as a reminder that every day a student misses school, they miss out on a chance to find their inspiration and make a change in their life.

Thank you IBC Bank for hosting, Costco for providing breakfast, and to all of our speakers and sponsors who helped make this event a huge success!  To see pictures, go to www.facebook.com/MissingSchoolMatters and check out our live tweets @MissingMatters

09 Aug

Why do students miss school?

Earlier this year, E3 Alliance and Children’s Optimal Health cooperated on a study to find the most common reasons that students miss school.  Researchers analyzed the 16,800 absences in 9 schools with demographics that mirrored the Central Texas region.  Perhaps not surprising is that acute illness accounted for 48% of school absences – but on the other hand, that means 52% of absences were NOT due to illness.  Preventable absences like routine medical appointments, skipping, and travel were all among the top 10 reasons students missed school.  Every day counts – if we can reduce those preventable absences by 3 days per student per year, Texas schools could gain an additional $34 million in funding.

To read more about the study and see the presentation of the findings, please visit the following links:

Acute Illness is the Prominent Reason why Students Miss School in Central Texas – Link to press release and presentations

Student Absences in Central Texas – What are the reasons? – Blog post on the study by Dr. Amy Wiseman.