The mission of Mentoring Works Washington, a public/private partnership, is to promote, support and expand quality mentoring that fosters positive youth development and academic success. Specifically, MWW works to maximize both the reach and impact of professionally-supported mentoring for youth who are facing risks related to academic performance and/or mental health.
The topic of chronic absenteeism has been on the minds of many of us over the past several months. Whether spurred by the recent national report identifying Washington State as having the second worst chronic absentee rate in the nation or because chronic absenteeism is one of the federal accountability measures for school quality and student success, it is clear we all have a role to play in student attendance. All of these incidents have raised awareness of attendance challenges and the imperative need to work towards solutions.
Research is clear that attendance is vital to academic success — students can’t learn if they aren’t in school. Every absence from school is a learning opportunity lost and can have significant impacts on a student’s success in school and life. Chronically absent students are more likely to fall behind in reading and math, and they are less likely to graduate from high school. Starting as early as kindergarten and preschool, chronic absenteeism predicts lower third grade reading scores. By middle school, it’s a warning sign that students are more likely to fail key classes and drop out of high school. For many youth, their introduction into the juvenile justice system is through truancy, and begins the flow of youth into the school-to-prison pipeline.
While our school partners are focusing on creating safe and inviting learning environments, those of us working in youth mentoring are working with community partners to “nudge” kids towards attending school. Through a partnership with the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), DSHS and the Seattle Sounders, we are working to raise awareness about the value of regular school attendance, and reducing school absences. Posters, card, electronic banners, robo-calls, and even public service announcements featuring Governor Jay Inslee, State Superintendent Chris Reykdal and Seattle Sounder Henry Wingo have been developed. Materials have been translated into multiple languages and are being shared with schools and social services agencies statewide to emphasize to guardians and kids that attending school is a critical step towards achieving their goals.
We continue our efforts to build capacity in schools for the evidence-based practice Check and Connect, as well as other mentoring models, to ensure youth have access to a caring adult to continue the important conversation around school attendance.
For copies of the materials or for more information, visit www.K12.wa.us/Attendance
This post is from Mentoring Works Washington, our Washington Affiliate. Their mission is to promote, support and expand quality mentoring that fosters positive youth development and academic success. Learn more about them here.