School day wake-up calls recorded by celebrities. Weekend makeup classes. Contests with laptop computers, private concerts and cars as prizes.
Educators across the nation are using creative strategies as another school year gets under way to convince students and parents that regular attendance matters — and not just for grades and achievement.
New research suggests missing as little as two weeks of school can put young children behind their peers, burden overworked teachers, cost districts state dollars and undermine mandates to raise standardized test scores. So many public school districts have launched campaigns to reduce all absences, not just those serious enough to warrant a home visit from a truant officer.
"Students who are getting a ‘B’ and are OK with a ‘B,’ they think it’s in their rights to skip school now and then," said Berkeley High School Attendance Dean Daniel Roose, who offered a movie night to the grade-level boasting the best attendance last semester. "I’ve tried to challenge those kids and their families to change the mindset that you aren’t impacting anyone but yourself when you skip."