When students are not in school, they cannot learn. And for every one day of school missed, it takes one and a half days of school to catch up. Chronic absenteeism (defined as missing 10% of school or about 18 days in most school years) in kindergarten directly correlates with negative first grade outcomes including greater absenteeism, lower reading and math achievement. Often by third grade, chronic absenteeism can result in being held back a grade. Only 41% of children who were chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade read on grade level by third grade. More importantly, by 6th grade, attendance is the leading indicator of high school graduation.
United Way of San Diego has partnered with the San Diego Unified School District to implement an attendance intervention in City Heights elementary schools called Every Student, Every Day – an effort to identify local students considered at-risk and provide personalized attendance interventions before it’s too late.
Every Student, Every Day helps students who are flagging as chronically absent or otherwise struggling with attendance at school. College interns are placed at school sites to conduct specialized outreach to children and families to identify needs and then provide resources and support to increase family stability, student attendance and academic achievement.
"Our intern, James, has been building relationships with kids and families and he's able to find out why these students are not coming to school. Having James at our school getting to know these families and connecting them to resources has made a huge difference in our work. Attendance is important to us and now we are focusing on it as a whole school site," said Liz Duvall, Principal at Central Elementary School.
This year, Every Student, Every Day served over 250 students and families with over 1,200 engagements in five schools. These efforts have yielded a 5% increase in those students’ attendance which equates to nearly two more weeks of learning for each student.
“We know that by increasing attendance and promoting learning, we are setting our youngest students on a path to success and establishing a foundation of stability for individuals, families and our community,” said Duvall.