“CHALLENGE 5” Campaign to Bring Awareness to Student Attendance

Challenge 5 poster featuring student high five
Donaldsonville, La. — Ascension Public Schools Truancy Office is implementing a district-wide attendance campaign for the month of October called Challenge 5, which encourages students to have less than five unexcused absences for the 2018-19 school year. The campaign partners schools with local businesses to provide incentives to students who have missed less than five days of school.

In a conference this summer, Truancy Coordinator Cleveland Washington learned of the Challenge 5 campaign focusing deeply on chronic attendance, which occurs when a child misses 10 percent (18 days total) of the school year and becomes at risk of not progressing to future grade levels. 

According to www.attendanceworks.org, eight million children were chronically absent nationwide. Chronic absence — missing 10 percent or more of school days due to absence for any reason—excused, unexcused absences and suspensions, can translate into third-graders unable to master reading, sixth-graders failing subjects and ninth-graders dropping out of high school.

“What I have realized now is that we need to dig into what the cause is and then give students and their families the tools they need to make it to school everyday,” said Washington. “Attendance equals total success.”

In 2017-18, Ascension achieved a 95 percent attendance rate, slightly higher than the state average of 94 percent. This year so far in Ascension, only 13 of almost 23,000 students have been referred for high absences (less than one percent). It is crucial to student success to ensure all levels of learning are up-to-date, and this is only accomplished with dedicated attendance throughout the school year. 

“The most rewarding part of this career is when I see kids who have had attendance problems in the past come to me and say, ‘I’m graduating high school,’” recalled Washington. 

As part of the Challenge 5 campaign, inspirational quotes are sent out to school counselors and principals to be shared with students every Wednesday. Also, every child with less than five unexcused absences is entered into a drawing for gift cards donated by local community partners such as Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan, Sonic in Donaldsonville, Graugnard, Foti Financial Services and Edward Jones Donaldsonville Branch.

The first drawing will take place today, Oct. 10, 2018, and will reoccur on Oct. 17, 24, 31. Those wishing to partner with the school district for the Challenge 5 Campaign are encouraged to contact Cleveland Washington at 225-391-7195 orCleveland.Washington@apsb.org.

For more information about the Child Welfare and Attendance Department, visithttp://www.apsb.org/page/cwa. To learn more about Ascension Public Schools, visitwww.apsb.org.