District calls on school community to take action, work together to reduce chronic absenteeism

On Thursday, October 20, the Cohoes City School District launched its “Every Minute Matters” attendance movement to engage and motivate parents, students, staff and the greater Cohoes community to reduce chronic absenteeism across the district.

Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10 percent of the school year. That’s 18 or more days, and last year in Cohoes 470 students in grades K-12 were chronically absent.

“Too many of our students are missing too much school,” said Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Spring. “We want to raise awareness around this issue and call on our parents—our partners in education—as well as the entire school community, to help us solve this problem.”

The district is calling on the school community to sign up to be a part of the movement. Parents can commit to establishing evening routines at home to make attending school a habit. They can also commit to reaching out to friends, neighbors and/or the school district when they need help, rather than allowing their child to miss school, and talking to their child about the importance of attending school every day.

The call to action doesn’t stop with parents. Cohoes business owners and community organizations can display the “Every Minute Matters” movement sign in their storefront window, or sign up to be an ambassador for the program, whether by mentoring an at-risk student or working with parents to provide needed support.

In the coming weeks, the district will be sharing their plans with parents and community partners to continue to improve attendance rates.

“We know that improving attendance will improve student achievement. We are calling on everyone to join our movement and commit to being part of the solution,” added Spring. “Helping our families overcome the barriers that keep their children from attending school every day, all day takes all of us working together.”

What the district is doing so far:

  • Working with the NYS legislature to pass a local law in Cohoes that would lower the mandatory age of attending school from 6 to 5 years-old;
  • Analyzing chronic absenteeism data and identifying those students who are already missing 5+ days since the beginning of the school year;
  • Identifying geographical locations of those students who are chronically absent to determine transportation, other needs;
  • Establishing a mentoring program for at-risk 9th graders at Cohoes High School;
  • Supporting a full-time, grant-funded parent liaison to work with families in pre-K and kindergarten to establish a positive home-school connection;
  • Engaging male mentors at the elementary schools with the first-ever MENtors walk-your-child-to-school day on Sept. 20;
  • Focusing efforts on raising awareness of chronic absenteeism and available supports for families;
  • Collaborating with CDTA (Capital District Transportation Authority) on a possible partnership to add bus stops in the City of Cohoes to transport secondary students to and from school beginning in the 2017-18 school year;
  • Creating a parent survey to identify common attendance barriers and where support is needed most.
  • School administrators implemented new early warning systems at the start of the 2016-17 school year. Principals and school social workers have been reviewing attendance data daily to identify students at-risk of chronic absenteeism and have been calling families and conducting home visits.
  • Dr. Spring will join Assemblymember John McDonald to talk about #EveryMinuteMatters and chronic absenteeism in Cohoes tonight (October 27, 2016) on Capital Tonight, 8 p.m. on Channel 9.

News coverage related to #EveryMinuteMatters:

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