(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, Mayor Bowser hosted the Every Day Counts! Attendance Design Challenge where teams from six DC public and public charter schools worked to create plans to address and solve attendance problems. Teams were made up of students and staff, school resource officers, truancy officers, and other community stakeholders. The Mayor was joined at the day-long event by Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles and DC Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson.
“As we continue making unprecedented investments in our public and public charter schools, we need to ensure that our young people are making it to every class, every single day,” said Mayor Bowser. “Consistent student attendance is a citywide challenge that touches every grade level, ward, and school, but it is a challenge we can overcome. By working together as a community and involving students in the process, we can ensure that the Every Day Counts! campaign is a success and that more students are benefiting from the investments we are making in our public schools.”
Throughout the day, students from six schools - Anacostia High School, Ballou High School, Cardozo Education Campus, Washington Metropolitan High School, Wilson High School, and Paul Public Charter School - worked in teams to generate viable solutions for addressing chronic absenteeism in their schools and across the District. Each team included a school resource officer and an adult “attendance champion” – a counselor, teacher, or nonprofit partner invested in reducing absenteeism. The students presented their ideas and solutions to Every Day Counts! Taskforce and received feedback from school and government officials.
In addition to today’s event, the Every Day Counts! initiative includes:
- a public awareness campaign focused on increasing awareness about the impact of absenteeism;
- increased coordination across public agencies and other stakeholders; and
- investments in measuring, monitoring, identifying, and sharing data-driven strategies that reduce absenteeism.
“We know that truancy and absenteeism are often a symptom of many of the challenges our students and families face,” said Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles. “Every Day Counts! will continue our work in identifying and empowering students and families to overcome those challenges, and our government agencies, schools, and community partners will provide the support and resources students and families need to get to school every day. I want the community to know that we aren’t just giving out rewards and incentives – we are doing the work on the backend to support every child in the District.”
Consistent attendance is a citywide challenge that spans schools, grades, and wards. By missing just two days per month, a student can end up missing nearly 10 percent of an entire school year. During the 2015-2016 school year, approximately 21 percent of students in Washington, DC were chronically truant, meaning they missed ten school days per school year for unexcused reasons, and 26 percent were chronically absent, meaning they missed more than ten percent of the school year for either unexcused or excused reasons. Truancy rates were higher for students in high school.
The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education leads the Every Day Counts! Taskforce, previously named the Truancy Taskforce, which includes councilmembers, government agency representatives, nonprofit leaders, teachers and other school staff, advocacy groups, and other community partners. Over the past two years, the Taskforce has studied the reasons for chronic absenteeism in the District, adopted a citywide plan for government agencies to address barriers to attendance, created attendance.dc.gov as a resource hub for students and other stakeholders, and partnered with schools to reward students for improved attendance.
In Fiscal Year 2017, Mayor Bowser invested more than $12 million in programs that explicitly address truancy and absenteeism and more than $18 million in Kids Ride Free, which helps students overcome transportation barriers that can lead to absenteeism. In the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, Mayor Bowser increased investments in programs that work to reduce absenteeism, including a $3.3 million increase in funding for Parent and Adolescent Support Services (PASS) and the Alternatives to the Court Experience (ACE) Diversion Program. The Mayor also made additional investments in the expansion of Show Up, Stand Out, a free program to help students and families get to school every day.
To access resources related to attendance and for updates on Every Day Counts!, visit attendance.dc.gov.