Chronic absenteeism occurs when a student misses 10 percent of the school year or 18 or more days in a 180-day school year. Chronic absenteeism is a red alert for academic trouble and puts students at risk of dropping out of high school. Parents and guardians often think absences are not a problem as long as they are excused, or that their child’s learning won’t be effected unless the child misses a lot of days in a row, but 2-3 days per month add up to so much lost time in the classroom that children cannot keep up. Chronic absenteeism includes all absences whereas truancy only consists of unexcused absences.
Chronic absenteeism affects many Smyth County students. During the 2016-2017 school year, 10.1 percent of students in Smyth County—453 students out of 4,329—were chronically absent from school.
In response to the chronic absenteeism problem, Smyth County Schools launch a new initiative beginning with the 2017-18 school year: Attend Today, Achieve Tomorrow #STRIVE FOR 5. The goals of this campaign are to:
Each school will have a school-based committee to develop a plan that best suits their school. Their plan will address defining the target audience, sharing data, ensuring a wide understanding of chronic absences and the Smyth Strive for 5 Initiative, and developing an implementation plan for the entire school year. Schools will utilize school newsletters, social media, banners, and recognize good and improved attendance. Schools will promote this initiative by asking each student to sign a pledge that they will support the goals of Strive for 5 and each student will be given a armband as a reminder of that commitment.
At the district level, the committee will develop the county-wide media campaign, monitor and distribute data, partner with community agencies, and assist with early intervention. In addition, the district will provide support to the schools and communicate with medical providers when necessary. Smyth County Schools will be divided into areas to promote Strive for 5 in each of the three communities in our division by utilizing feeder pattern committees. The responsibility of the committee will be to ensure a wide understanding by partnering with stakeholders such as businesses, churches, civic organizations, and medical professionals. Display materials and information sheets will be provided for display in their respective business locations.
In partnering with United Way of Southwest Virginia, Smyth County Schools hope to utilize media outlets and share with the greater Southwest Virginia area in an effort to improve the academic success of all students and make a positive impact on the region.
Missing a school day here or there adds up to missed instruction and potentially leads a student to become a dropout.
Attend Today, Achieve Tomorrow. #SmythStrive for 5