HPS Announces Historic Partnership to Combat the Attendance Crisis

HPS Announces Historic Partnership to Combat the Attendance Crisis

Chronic Absenteeism in Hartford Public Schools Reaches Critical Levels, School District to Form New Partnership to Address Issue

On Monday, December 17th, 2018, Hartford Public Schools invited partners, leaders and friends to a press conference for a major announcement.

For the first time, HPS is joining forces with Attendance Works –  the leading national organization focused on the issue of Chronic Absenteeism. Attendance Works will join our existing group of partners in the fight against Chronic Absenteeism, including: the City of Hartford, United Way, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Travelers, Hartford Public Library, the Fund for Greater Hartford, Hartford Campaign for Grade Level Reading, the RISE Network, and more.

Currently, 25% of Hartford Public School students are chronically absent.

One in 10 kindergarten and first-grade students miss at least 18 days of school – a full 10 percent of the school year. Research shows, only 17 percent of chronically absent students will read on grade level after 3rd grade. By middle school, chronic absence is one of the leading indicators of dropping out. And by 9th grade, it’s a better predictor of dropping out than test scores. This trend starts as early as kindergarten and continues through high school, contributing to achievement gaps and ultimately to dropout rates.

The mission of Attendance Works is to advance student success and reduce equity gaps by reducing chronic absence. With extensive knowledge in the fields of education, family support, youth development, inter-agency collaboration, equity and community building, Attendance Works partners with school districts to identify and facilitate needed changes to systems, attitudes, and policies that will lead to improved attendance.

This historic partnership with Attendance Works will be focused on both planning and implementation.  Using data, we will conduct a full assessment of the contributors to chronic absence and how existing resources can best be applied. Key steps, metrics for establishing benchmarks and outcomes, stakeholder involvement, and accountability measures will be established and lead to a detailed operations plan.

The data-informed plan will strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of our existing  partnership. While also allowing us to accurately identify where additional resources and supports are required.

HPS currently believes additional resources are needed to provide for district-wide Attendance Workers, as well as additional after-school programs, the creation of Student Support Centers, and a high school bridge program. Additional funding from state or private sources would be required to support these initiatives.

Going forward, HPS and its partners will continue to emphasize awareness on Chronic Absenteeism. More importantly, they will focus on taking the needed actions to alleviate the crisis.

Hedy Chang, Executive Director of Attendance Works (far left) addresses the packed room on Attendance Awareness and alleviation, and Michael Wotorson, (right) Senior Community Investments Officer for the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, in his eloquest speech, is reminded of a Liberian phrase used in crises, Abray-mu which loosely translates to, “We’ve all come together and let us move forward.”

The press conference included speakers, Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, Superintendent, Hartford Public Schools, Luke Bronin, Mayor of the City of Hartford, Craig Stallings, Chairman, Hartford Public Schools Board of Education, Hedy Chang, Executive Director, Attendance Works, Paula Gilberto, President and CEO, United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut, Michael Wotorson, Senior Community Investments Officer, Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Erin Haberman, Director, Community Relations Senior Program Officer, Travelers Foundation, and Nichelle Woodson, The RISE Network.

Nichelle Woodson, (far right) of the RISE Network, a student supports program at Hartford Public High School, answers a question from the audience.

You may watch the press conference, by clicking here.

View all event photos here.

To read a White Paper on Attendance by Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, click here.

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