Hathaway students strive to improve attendance

Hathaway Elementary principal, David Tudor is asking his students and their families to “Strive for Five.” The goal is for students to have fewer than five missed days in an entire school year.

Statistics show that students who miss 10 or more school days have a greater chance of not reaching their grade level learning targets, Tudor explained.

Last year, 22 percent of Hathaway students had five or fewer absences. More than half of students in each grade level missed 10 or more school days last year, with an average of 12.5 missed days.

Tudor began working with Mindy Smith, now retired attendance secretary, Nancy Boon, family resource coordinator and Jenna Linerud, social worker, to focus on students with chronic absences, missing 18 or more days per year, and to discuss goals to improve those numbers.

The Hathaway “Strive for Five” program begins with educating parents to the negative effects of missing school at the elementary school level.

“There is a notion out there with some parents that attendance in grades kindergarten through second is not that critical,” Tudor explained. “We are setting out to change that paradigm.”

Posters, book markers and postcards have been distributed and information was shared at kindergarten orientation and back-to-school nights to remind parents of the importance of regular attendance on student learning. For instance, how easily students can fall behind missing even just a day or two of classes every few weeks.

The campaign also shares ways for parents to help their students, including setting regular bed time and morning routines.

According to Tudor, Hathaway teachers have embraced the campaign. They are identifying students that they are concerned about and are making personal phone calls home.

So far, the percentage of students missing two days or less has moved from 76 percent last September to 90 percent this year, and from 70 percent to nearly 80 percent for October, according to Tudor.

“We just have 180 days with our students,” Tudor said. “So each moment, each hour, each day we have them is important.”