As you may have noticed this season, My Brother’s Keeper is utilizing our blog to highlight the importance of school attendance and how education relates to breaking the cycle of poverty. This week, we want to share more valuable information and statistics with you about our role in the Attendance Affirmation Project at Beechfield Elementary-Middle School in Irvington. The program has recorded astounding results so far, and we can only hope that the positive impact of this program continues to grow.
What Helps People Overcome the Barriers of Poverty?
The Board and stakeholders of MBK met several years ago to establish a master plan to guide their services in the Irvington area and to set up a vision plan for their future ministry. They were clear that they did not want to just relieve the effects of poverty in the community but rather to attack some of the root causes. One of the things that appears to help people overcome the barriers of poverty is education. But in order for students to benefit from education, they must be present and prepared.
How Poverty Relates to Education in Irvington and Beyond
According to research done in Baltimore City and other jurisdictions, students who are absent in the first month of school set a pattern for the rest of the year and many of those who miss 2-4 days in September continue to miss nearly a month of school during the school year. Students who miss less than 2 days in September are likely to continue to show a good attendance pattern. As many as 5-7 million students in the United States miss about a month of school each year. Poor attendance, which can occur in 10% of kindergarten and first grade students, can influence their ability to read fluently by third grade. By 6th grade, chronic absences (identified as 20 absences or more in a year) are one of the leading indicators of dropping out of high school. Research has shown that missing about 2 days a month of school can have a bad impact on academic performance. The good news is that researchers have also determined that students can reverse some of these trends if attendance improves.
What is the Attendance Affirmation Project? Is it Working So Far?
MBK has developed a program in conjunction with Beechfield Elementary-Middle School, the Attendance Affirmation Project, to help improve attendance. The school is focusing on the outliers who have some of the very serious attendance problems. MBK is focusing on rewarding students who have 94% attendance or better with incentive programs as well as assisting parents and teachers in their roles of providing the framework for good attendance. The program has been in place for three years. When the program started, students in the third grade were missing an average of almost 2 weeks of school in the 2013-14 school year. Those students who were in the fifth grade for the 2015-16 school year missed an average of a just less than one week of school. Other grades that have been a part of the program have also shown gains.
How MBK Worked Over the Summer to Encourage Fall Attendance
Encouraged by this success, MBK has worked with teacher teams in grades pre-k-6 this past summer to identify incentives for the children to encourage them to maintain good attendance. Because parents are so essential to good attendance particularly in the early grades, information and discussion meetings are being held with parents asking for their help in creating good attendance patterns. The response from pre-k and kindergarten parents was enthusiastic at their orientation meeting and several parents joined with Beechfield staff members and MBK volunteers to assist with some of the September incentives.
Talk to My Brother’s Keeper About Helping with Attendance
If this project excites you as much as it does us, we would love to talk to you about it more. Please feel free to contact us at “My Brother’s Keeper” if you would like to be a volunteer or donor or if you would like to join with us in prayer this year for the success of the project.
To learn more about our youth programs, how to help, or to find out more about our services including hot meal programs, employment assistance, health services and identifying possible emergency shelter, call MBK today at 410-644-3194. You can also follow our official MBK page on Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, to stay up to date on our center’s progress and upcoming events in the community.