The first day of school Tuesday was the start of a partnership between the Madison School District and the United Way of Dane County called “I’m Here,” focused on improving student attendance.
A United Way officials said when it comes to students who are chronically absent, 15 percent are in high school, 15 percent are sixth graders and 20 percent are kindergartners.
“If we’re going to focus on the classroom, you need children in the classroom. So, the United Way is helping us with a campaign to get students in school, to be consistently in school,” said Jennifer Cheatham, MMSD superintendent.
Students may miss class because of issues with transportation, child care or the feeling that they’re not doing well.
“Sometimes people might be working double shifts. They might not have transportation. There might be issues with child case in terms of getting their child to school,” said Leslie Howard, president of the United Way of Dane County.
Community leaders said good attendance is important to start early with students.
“They’re getting those building blocks and also forming those relationships with the teacher and those other students. If it starts to become a problem at the beginning, then they’re more afraid to go the next week or the next,” said Howard.
Research shows that missing even 10 minutes of school can have a significant impact, said Howard.
Principals will look at their own individual data to determine what kind of support they need from the district to improve attendance.