NCCS Works with NYC Mayor’s Task Force on Truancy and Absenteeism

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Every Student, Every Day Initiative Going Strong

The Children’s Aid Society, through our National Center for Community Schools (NCCS), began providing technical assistance to the Mayor’s Interagency Task Force Every Student, Every Day Initiative in 2010.   

The goal of this work is to support the Every Student, Every Day Initiative by advising on the project development at the task force level and building the capacity of the NYC Success Mentors, partner agencies, school teams and Children First Networks through cross-site professional development and individual, site-based consultation.  To accomplish this, the NCCS team draws on its extensive experience guiding the development of comprehensive, integrated service systems that support students and families through the community schools strategy.

Sarah Jonas, NCCS director of regional initiatives, has been leading the work, with support from Abe Fernandez, former deputy director of NCCS, and Lukas Weinstein, NCCS director of special projects.  All team members are skillful trainers and consultants with expertise in the area of chronic absenteeism.   The Center has also been a strategic partner to Attendance Works, which is the only national initiative specifically dedicated to reducing chronic absence in American schools.

Over the past year, we had the opportunity to work with all 100 schools involved in the Mayor’s Task Force on Truancy, Chronic Absenteeism, and School Engagement initiative.  It is clear that the increased focus on youth who are chronically absent is having a positive effect, not only related to their attendance, but on their overall school performance as well.  

Last year, the task force released data that shows the effort’s positive impact as chronically absent students gained 11,820 more days of school in the previous year alone. This is a promising outcome, since research shows that three out of four sixth graders, who are chronically absent, will not graduate and that 79 percent of juveniles arrested in new York City had been chronically absent prior to their arrest.  

There is still plenty of work ahead, however. Many parents and guardians still don’t know the devastating consequences of chronic absenteeism, or don’t know what to do about it. “To combat student absenteeism, we absolutely must educate adults. Parents must understand that getting kids to school every day, from early on, is critical to their success... But parents are not the only focus of our work.  Schools very often fail to acknowledge the great cost of chronic absenteeism.  They may report high attendance yet fail to track chronic absence,” Jonas says.

Weinstein adds that in the upcoming school year, we look forward to expanding our work with schools throughout the city, as well as with our own Community Schools.  “One of our Community Schools, CS 211 in the South Bronx, recently received an AIDP [Attendance Improvement and Dropout Prevention] grant to implement the Success Mentor Program. At the beginning of the school year, students who are most at-risk for attendance problems will be matched with a school mentor, who will help to keep them in school and on track throughout the year.  We will be working with CS 211 on the design and implementation of the model, and hope that they can be a prototype for the rest of our schools and for New York City as a whole.”