I appreciated your recent editorial, "The value of showing up" (Sept. 29) because it shed some much needed light on the issue of tracking chronic absenteeism. Left unchecked, chronic absenteeism in the pre-K and kindergarten years will snowball into poor academic performance and a higher risk for dropping out of high school. The good news is that with effective interventions, research has shown that patterns of poor attendance can be reversed.
The most effective strategies for reducing chronic absenteeism require collaboration between the schools, their nonprofit partners, and the parents. That includes tracking chronic absenteeism and using that data to make an impact on the students who need it most. AARP Experience Corps is one of 18 local educational nonprofits that comprise the OSI supported Baltimore Student Attendance Collaborative. The collaborative meets monthly to find ways to reduce chronic absenteeism and promote the importance of consistent attendance district wide.
One of the collaborative's best practices for improving attendance is having a consistent caring adult in the classroom that the students know will miss them when they are absent. Experience Corps engages more than 300 caring adults over 50 years of age to work with 8,000 kindergarten to third grade students in 30 Baltimore City schools, including Franklin Square Elementary. Our members meet with children at risk for chronic absenteeism to develop strategies to help them get to school consistently and on the days that children do miss school, our members call their homes to remind them and their parents that they are missed and that there is a direct relationship between attendance and academic achievement.
Experience Corps is proud to be one of Franklin Square's new partners in improving school attendance and looks forward to helping our colleagues in BSAC reduce chronic absenteeism in Baltimore by 25 percent by 2015.
Bill Romani, Baltimore
The writer is branch director of AARP Experience Corps Baltimore City.