(WASHINGTON, DC) – As part of Education Week 2018, Mayor Bowser today recognized Sousa Middle School as one of the middle schools with the most improved attendance rates. At the celebration, the Mayor also announced a number of private partners and other organizations, including the Washington Nationals, Atlantic 10 Basketball Conference, and Ben and Jerry’s, that are partnering with the District as part of the Every Day Counts! campaign to recognize students, schools, and families working to improve their attendance.
“As we celebrate the students and schools making improvements, we will continue calling on the community – from individual residents to large organizations – to help us get more students to school every day, ready to learn,” said Mayor Bowser. “Students who attend school every day are more likely to succeed in the classroom, in college, and in life, and we want to make sure our students know this and that they are setting high expectations for themselves.”
To celebrate Sousa’s improvement, the Department of Parks and Recreation hosted a mini Recreation Day for students.
In addition to recognizing the Sousa community, the Mayor also announced that on Saturday, April 21, the Deputy Mayor for Education (DME) will host the Every Day Counts! Summit, which will bring together educators, students, families, and community leaders for a full-day convening at Ron Brown College Preparatory High School. Participants will be able to learn about local resources and best practices for improving student attendance.
“As we build city and school cultures that draw students to their school, it is important that we show students and families that we know it takes work worthy of recognition to make it to school every day,” said Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles. “As the city continues to invest in removing barriers to student attendance, I’m proud that our public and private partners are supporting our students and our efforts to improve attendance citywide.”
Students who attended the Administration’s Attendance Design Challenge in July provided feedback that their classmates are balancing many responsibilities and that recognizing students who attend school every day is motivating and encouraging. So, in partnership with public and private organizations, the Every Day Counts! campaign is rewarding students and schools with improved attendance rates. To support these efforts, the Nationals provided ticket vouchers to students at Sousa with improved their attendance and the Atlantic 10 Conference will provide 10 tickets to all 108 public schools serving students in grades 6-12 to their 2018 Men’s Basketball Tournament in March.
“As we’ve heard from Mayor Bowser and Deputy Mayor Niles, the entire community plays a role in ensuring our students can get to school every single day,” said Atlantic 10 Conference Executive Associate Commissioner Keith Gill. “We are proud to be able to partner with the Every Day Counts! campaign and public schools throughout the District of Columbia to honor students for their hard work at our basketball tournament in March.”
Ahead of the 2017-2018 school year, Mayor Bowser launched a citywide effort to emphasize the importance of student attendance, highlight its impact on student achievement, and promote District investments to help students and families overcome obstacles to attendance. The Every Day Counts! initiative includes a public campaign and a task force of education, health, and public safety leaders, as well as investments in data-driven strategies to reduce absenteeism. To date, approximately 3,500 students and community members have signed the Every Day Counts! pledge, committing to getting more students to school on time, every day.
Additionally, in 2015, to remove barriers to attendance, Mayor Bowser expanded Kids Ride Free to include free Metrorail trips. Kids Ride Free offers students free school-related travel on Metrobus, the DC Circulator, and Metrorail within Washington, DC. In her Fiscal Year 2018 budget, the Mayor increased investments in programs that work to reduce absenteeism, including a $3.3 million increase in funding for Parent and Adolescent Support Services (PASS), Alternatives to the Court Experience (ACE) Diversion Program, and additional investments in the expansion of Show Up, Stand Out, a free program to help students and families get to school every day.