Inspiring work happening to improve attendance in our community

Posted on May 24, 2018 in Press Releases

Nearly one in four Multnomah County students are chronically absent, missing more than 10% of school days, leading to academic struggles and an increased risk of dropping out. Irregular attendance also signals greater challenges, including housing insecurity, and mental and physical health challenges.

Administrators and teachers at Highland Elementary School—where 67% of students are of color—are hard at work improving student attendance, increasing opportunities for academic success and strengthening engagement with school. Over the course of the last three years, in partnership with All Hands Raised, the school built a team of administrators, teachers, attendance workers and staff from partner agency El Programa Hispano focused on using real-time, student-level disaggregated data to design and implement practices that are improving school attendance.

A recent example of the progress they are making is demonstrated in an intervention that the team designed and implemented this spring—an incentive program where 100% attendance in a classroom on a given day is rewarded. For each day a class that had all of its students in attendance the class receive a “Husky Paw;” and every five “paws” collected earn the class rewards like popsicles, extra recess and pajama days.

One month into the challenge, 89% of classrooms maintained or increased the number of students regularly attending school. Furthermore, the percentage of students regularly attending school increased by 7 percentage points to 86%.

Highland’s attendance challenge was informed by attendance work happening at Butler Creek Elementary School in the Centennial School District. The All Hands Raised Partnership brings together school teams—working in areas like attendance, school discipline and post-secondary access—to shine a light on where we are making improvements and spread that light to more schools.

The top priority of the All Hands Raised Partnership is the operationalization of racial educational equity in partnership with seven school districts and many community partners, including these key culturally specific providers: El Programa Hispano, Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, KairosPDX, Latino Network, Native American Youth and Family Center, REAP, and Self Enhancement, Inc. Our schools cannot do it alone. System change is happening by building integrated teams that have never existed before and committing to never going back to a siloed approach.

Learn more about the work of the All Hands Raised Partnership to improve educational outcomes for all of Multnomah County’s kids—from cradle to career.