Tuscaloosa City Schools sees attendance get better

Tuscaloosa City Schools is taking time to recognize Attendance Awareness Month. {}Last year, the system implemented its Have Everyone Ready to Educate (HERE) campaign. {}Since that time, leaders report seeing a decrease in absences across the district.

"Students aren't learning if they're not in school. That's why we launched the HERE campaign and made reducing chronic absenteeism - missing 10 percent or more of the school year - a top priority," said Dr. Paul McKendrick, superintendent of Tuscaloosa City Schools. "We heard from all 24 of our principals, and we're confident the campaign is having the desired effect and enabling us to address this critical issue."

A survey by Virgina-based research and communications firm, K12 Insight, analyzed attendance after HERE was put in place. {}Here's a look at the K12 Insight findings:

  • District wide, student absences decreased in the 2014-2015 school year, compared to 2013-2014.
  • Eleven of the 23 schools for which K12 Insight received attendance data saw student absences decrease from 2013-2014 to 2014-2015.
  • All elementary and high school principals had favorable feedback about the communication of the HERE campaign.
  • 83% of middle school principals agreed that school faculty has been informed of the program, and 77% of elementary school principals agreed that families have been fully informed.
  • Several principals reported working with an external partner - either an Adopt-A-School partner or their PTA - in support of the HERE campaign.

Dr. McKendrick says the system isn't where he would like it to be with this attendance initiative and will continue its efforts to realize a 10 percent decrease in absences compared to the baseline program data.