Dear Grade Level Reading Coalition:
We know this is both an exciting and busy time and want to wish everyone a happy start to the school year! This month we will be joining the Baltimore Attendance Collaborative and Attendance Works in celebrating Attendance Awareness Month. September is a crucial time to focus on attendance. According to a BERC study, students who missed 2 to 4 days of school in September were five times more likely to be chronically absent than their peers who were absent fewer than 2 days. Our goal, as a Coalition, is to ensure that all families have the resources they need to attend early education, school and extended learning opportunities every day. This goal intentionally recognizes that attendance is not just about a mother’s desire to send her child to school every day. Our families face real barriers to attending school every day such as stable housing, reliable transportation, and health issues and are often prioritizing what we all naturally prioritize; basic needs to survive.
In this newsletter we highlight “bright spots” where Coalition members are reducing chronic absenteeism despite some of these challenges. If you have bright spots you would like to share, please email us at Kimberlym@ffee.org. Finally, I want to remind you that our next Coalition Meeting is on Wednesday, November 18th from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM at the Family League of Baltimore. I look forward to seeing everyone there. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or feedback you may have.
Secretary Julián Castro Announces Funding For Green and Healthy Homes Initiative Linked to Improved Attendance
Last Tuesday, August 25th, the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI), Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and the Campaign for Grade Level Reading joined with the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Julián Castro, to announce almost $4 million in federal funding for a GHHI initiative aimed at protecting Baltimore’s children from lead based paint and other home hazards. Not only will the funding help address lead hazards in 230 housing units, but it will also allow healthy home assessments to be performed in 330 homes across Baltimore City. According to GHHI, their housing interventions have improved attendance by 62 percent. Read more about this exciting initiative in this Huffington Post blog post by Patrick Corvington, Senior Fellow at the National Campaign for Grade Level Reading.
Attendance Success Stories:
The Baltimore Attendance Collaborative Blog
To celebrate Attendance Awareness Month, every day in September the Baltimore Attendance Collaborative will feature an attendance success story on their newly launched website. The first piece is written by a Baltimore City teen about how Truancy Court and Wide Angle Youth Media helped him set goals to stay in school, engage in learning and improve his attendance.
Stay tuned all month for great posts about people successfully combating chronic absenteeism in our city, including:
- How 32 homerooms, 800 students and one teacher with the desire to have the best attendance at Lakeland Elementary used March Madness to improve their attendance to over 95%.
- How Armistead Gardens used Pre-K and K orientation to raise awareness of the importance of attendance.
- How Head Start uses the ABCs of attendance to help get children to school each day.
- How Child First Authority uses door knocking to make an impact on chronic absence in their schools.
- And lots more!
Promoting Attendance at the Mayor’s Block Parties
This summer, the Baltimore Attendance Collaborative and the Baltimore Campaign for Grade Level Reading promoted the importance of attending school on time, every day at each of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s 18 block parties. Children learned about Never Late Nate and Never Late Kate, superheroes who are never late for school, created by Wide Angle Youth Media in partnership with AARP Experience Corps. Children were able to take pictures with Nate and Kate and color in the Never Late Nate activity book. Each child also received a Never Late Nate button to wear proudly when they returned to school and a checklist to help them get ready for the first day.
3rd grader, Khamyria (pictured above), was so excited to use Never Late Nate and Kate’s checklist for being on time and ready for school each day that she asked if she could take a checklist for each day in September. Her mom told us that she knew Khamyria would use the list every night before she went to bed to make sure she was prepared for school the next day.
One young boy even high-fived Nate as he proclaimed he also was never late.
We’ll continue to use the Never Late Nate and Kate characters to raise awareness of the importance of attendance throughout September and beyond.
National Attendance Bright Spots
- The Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is working with seven school districts across the state to reduce chronic absence and develop a model attendance policy. Read more.
- The school district in Vernon, Connecticut developed a plan to improve attendance at all seven of its schools, serving 3,500 students. The data driven strategies have reduced chronic absence, especially in kindergarten and the elementary grades. Read more.
- Marshalltown, Iowa is boosting school readiness and attendance among young children from low-income families, using the Perfectly Punctual Campaign. Read more.
Ways to Get Involved in Attendance Awareness Month
Are you doing work as an organization to promote attendance? Here are some ways from Attendance Works that you can get involved in Attendance Awareness Month:
- Post on the Attendance Action Map: Share what you’re doing to promote attendance this month and see what other organizations in Baltimore and across the country are up to.
- Tweet post and pin on social media. Attendance Works has memes and prewritten tweets on the website, or create you can create your own using the hashtag #schooleveryday.
- Help promote Attendance Works’ Mapping the Early Attendance Gap Brief.
- Join Attendance Works’ Mapping the Gap webinar on September 9th, featuring a panel of state leaders talking about how they are addressing chronic absence in their states.
Coalition Needs & Happenings Around Town
As a way to stay connected, we will be including Coalition needs in our monthly newsletter. Please let us know if there is a need or announcement you would like the Coalition to know about by emailing Kimberly Manns at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The next GLR Coalition Meeting will be on Wednesday, November 18th from 9am-11am at the Family League of Baltimore.
- Reading Partners is looking for volunteer tutors to work with students on reading throughout the school year. Find out more.
- It’s never too early to get ready for summer. Sign up for the National Summer Learning Association’s Summer Changes Everything Conference from October 12th-14th.
- Educators and librarians! Join the DK Advisory Panel. Have a Voice, Help Young Readers, and Earn $500 in DK Books.
- B’more For Healthy Babies is celebrating five years of successes. Read more.
For more Coalition Needs and to see what the Coalition is up to over the next 12 weeks, check out our list of Coalition activities from our last Coalition Meeting. If you can help fill any of these needs please email Kimberly Manns at email@example.com.