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Preventing Chronic School Absence Important to Student Success

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Nov. 14, 2017) –  The Make Every Day Count minigrant program, a joint initiative from Arkansas Community Foundation and the Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (AR-GLR), recently invited schools to share plans for preventing chronic school absence to help ensure student success in grade-level reading. 

Previous research from AR-GLR indicates students who are chronically absent in the early grades are more likely to struggle with reading and less likely to graduate from high school. Currently, only 37 percent of Arkansas third-graders can read on grade-level and preventing chronic school absence can increase this key number. 

“We’re learning more, with help from the Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, about specific strategies to help Arkansas children read at grade-level,” said Heather Larkin, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. “Supporting programs that prevent students from missing too many days of school is one way that we can work to make this happen.” 

In the 2014-2015 school year, more than 12 percent of kindergarten through third graders in Arkansas were chronically absent, meaning they missed 18 or more days of school. That number of students could fill every seat in Quigley Stadium, home to the Little Rock Central High football team. 

“Schools, communities and families can work together to improve these rates,” Larkin said. Make Every Day Count minigrants were awarded to eight schools that are creating specific goal-oriented programs to intervene: 
  • Booneville Elementary School (Booneville) – Awarded $1,000 for their Attendance Matters program to reduce the school’s chronic absence rate from 15 percent to 12 percent.
  • Central Junior High School (Springdale) – Awarded $1,000 for their Be Cool at School program to reduce the percentage of students at risk for chronic absence from 23 percent to 17 percent.
  • Greenbrier Springhill Elementary (Greenbrier) – Awarded $1,000 for their Ninja Warrior Growth Mindset Challenge program to reduce the school’s chronic absence rate from 10 percent to 8 percent.
  • Jones Elementary School (Springdale) – Awarded $1,000 for their Make Every Day Count program to reduce the school’s chronic absence rate from 10.5 percent to 8 percent.
  • Monitor Elementary School (Springdale) – Awarded $1,000 to reduce the kindergarten chronic absence rate from 22 percent to 20 percent, with a specific goal of targeting their uninsured students. 
  • Oscar Hamilton Elementary School (Foreman) – Awarded $1,000 for their Every Day Counts program to reduce the school’s chronic absence rate from 9 percent to 6 percent.            
  • Valley Springs Elementary (Valley Springs) – Awarded $877 for their P.A.W.S. for Good Attendance program to reduce the school’s chronic absence rate from 9 percent to 7 percent and the kindergarten chronic absence rate from 16 percent to 12 percent.
  • Yellville-Summit Elementary (Yellville) – Awarded $1,000 for their Panthers Purr-fect Attendance program to reduce the school’s chronic absence rate from 12 percent to 10 percent.
“In the 2018-2019 school year, the Arkansas Department of Education will begin tracking chronic absence as a school and district accountability measure” said Angela Duran, Campaign Director of the Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “What these eight schools learn as they test their strategies will help schools around the state as they begin to implement the new measure.”  

To learn more about Arkansas Community Foundation’s Make Every Day Count minigrant program, visit arcf.org/MEDC. For information on the Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and their five key strategies to helping all Arkansas children read at grade-level by the third-grade, visit ar-glr.net. 

Arkansas Community Foundation is a nonprofit organization that fosters smart giving to improve communities. The Community Foundation offers tools to help Arkansans protect, grow and direct their charitable dollars as they learn more about community needs. By making grants and sharing knowledge, the Community Foundation supports charitable programs that work for Arkansas and partners to create new initiatives that address the gaps.  Since 1976, the Community Foundation has provided more than $179 million in grants and partnered with thousands of Arkansans to help them improve our neighborhoods, our towns and our entire state. Contributions to the Community Foundation, its funds and any of its 28 affiliates are fully tax deductible.






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