Chronic absenteeism is one of the most powerful predictors of student success, even accounting for other factors such as poverty and disability. Therefore, curbing chronic absenteeism is a key focus of the State of Hawaii Strive HI Performance System, which supports schools’ progress based on multiple research-based indicators.
Schools were given Strive HI rating scores for the first time for their performance after the 2012-2013 school year. Ha‘aheo Elementary scored a ZERO out of 20 in the absenteeism category. This was due to 26% of our students accumulating more than 15 absences throughout the 2012-2013 school year. According to eSIS and EWS data from April 2013, 76% of students who had 15 or more absences and/or tardies were approaching or off-track in their core subjects. In response to our extremely low score, our school quickly developed and consistently implemented a range of activities and incentives which focused on improving school attendance.
As a result, Ha‘aheo Elementary School’s 2013-14 School Year Strive HI chronic absenteeism rate decreased from 26% to 8%! (Exhibit A pg.19) In 2014-2015, we were able to keep our chronic absenteeism down at 9%. Our school’s current goal is to maintain a chronic absenteeism rate below 11% for more consecutive years.
Attendance is the first step to school success. When students are in school, they can access the instruction and collaborative learning opportunities which will lead to meeting statewide academic standards. It’s not just the work that students miss when they are absent or late, but they also miss instructional time, team discussions, and school activities which develop not only their academic growth, but their social and interpersonal skills. Students developing the habit of attending school daily and on time (unless they are sick or have an emergency) will be an invaluable life skill which will help them to be successful in college and in the workplace.
The State Department of Education’s goal is to promote college and career readiness for all students. Attendance is a large part of this effort. The Hawaii Department Of Education Strategic Plan asserts in Objective 1A that “All students are engaged and ready to learn.” Target 1A in the Hawaii Department of Education Strategic Plan is “To increase the percentage of students who attend school regularly.” According to the American School Counseling Association National Standards (CD: A2.8) Students will understand the importance of responsibility, dependability, punctuality, integrity, and 3 effort in the workplace. And in the ASCA standard (A: A2.2) Students will demonstrate how effort and persistence positively affect learning.
Families play a critical role in school attendance and therefore, part of our efforts to curb attendance issues is to reach out to parents and families for their support and participation in our efforts. We encourage parents to familiarize themselves with our attendance program to be involved. We appreciate feedback and we welcome suggestions on ways that we can improve our program. Please share your feedback with our counselor, Ms. Maile Kapuniai or Principal.