CCBOE announces attendance initiative, inaugural winners

Published 11:49 pm Sunday, February 18, 2024

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

Chronic absenteeism in Crenshaw County and across the nation has emerged as a pressing concern, prompting efforts by educators to address the issue. With attendance directly linked to academic success, Crenshaw County Public Schools (CCBOE) have taken a proactive step by launching a district-wide attendance initiative aimed at raising awareness about the critical role attendance plays in academic success.

The new campaign involves recognizing and rewarding grade levels with the highest monthly attendance rates. Dubbed the “Superintendent’s Award,” this accolade seeks to incentivize regular attendance among students in kindergarten through sixth grade and seventh grade through 12th grade. The inaugural winners of this award were Brantley’s second grade with a 95% attendance rate and Luverne’s eighth grade with a 94% attendance rate for the month of January.

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Superintendent Dodd Hawthorne said that addressing chronic absenteeism, defined as any student with more than 18 excused or unexcused absences, and reaching well-defined objectives is a crucial aspect of ensuring the overall success of the school system.

“We are hoping that through this campaign and honoring those grade levels with the highest attendance rate, we can encourage students to be at school on a regular basis,” Hawthorne said.

According to the most recent Alabama State Report Card, which includes data from the 2022-2023 school year, 21% of Crenshaw County students were considered chronically absent. “We have certainly put in an effort to try and reduce this number,” said Hawthorne. “It not only affects our report card, but more importantly students cannot learn if they aren’t in school.”

Crenshaw County Schools launched a comprehensive response to chronic absenteeism that has been in place since the start of the 2022-23 school year. The initiative comprises a series of proactive measures in response to absences, including the implementation of early warning systems, identification of underlying causes for absences, and the promotion and encouragement of consistent, daily school attendance.

In an effort to enhance communication between the school and parents, CCBOE brought Bev Sport on board as a parent liaison in 2023. Sport’s primary role is to cultivate trust and build relationships with parents, fostering a collaborative approach to enhance student outcomes. Sport, who also instructs the secondary curriculum, is optimistic about the positive impact of this new initiative on attendance, emphasizing that while each school is unique, all are actively working towards improving attendance.

“Regular, daily school attendance is vitally important not only for academic learning, but for social and emotional learning, collaboration skills, and communication skills along with conflict resolution skills,” Sport said. “In Crenshaw County, attendance matters for every child, everyday.”

The CCBOE remains dedicated to fostering collaborative endeavors among schools, parents, and students, all with the aim of cultivating an environment where every student has the opportunity to flourish academically.