District fights potential negative student outcomes by addressing attendance today

Marysville Joint USD, Press Release

Posted August 2017

(Marysville, Calif.) Marysville Joint Unified School District is continuing to prioritize student attendance rates this year as part of its continued work to close achievement gaps among its most at-risk students: homeless and foster youth.

In addition to the handful of other interventions already employed by the district, administrators will begin using Attention2Attendance ™ (A2A) software to flag students who miss school and notify families, and track their attendance even if children move frequently to different schools within the district–a common reality among transient youth.

Jolie Carreón, Director of Student Attendance and Discipline for the MJUSD, said the program will help free up administrators and school staff so they will have more time to work one-on-one with families before poor attendance habits develop.

“Having A2A to send out those letters to parents and guardians is going to free up our attendance clerks so that they have the time to build those relationships with families and find out why kids are missing school, and how we can help to remedy attendance issues,” Carreón said. “Just being able to see who our highest risk kids are right off the screen without having to pull records from multiple schools, or be able to track them as they go from school to school, will help us streamline the process.”

About 86 percent of students enrolled in the district qualify for free or reduced price school meals–meaning that their families live at or below the federal poverty line–and more than 100 children are considered foster youth, according to district data. Carreón said that schools have already made strides working with parents who have come to them with issues including a lack of reliable transportation, a steady paycheck or even a roof over their head to help connect them to resources. Many have enrolled students in afterschool programs where they can receive help with homework and eat regular meals.

National research shows that children who are homeless or in foster care are at a much higher risk of dropping out of school than their peers, and are unlikely to attend or graduate from college. As a result, these kids are also more likely to face unemployment, poor health outcomes and struggle with substance abuse in the future.

Carreón said that the district wants to ensure all students are on a path to success–something that starts with getting to school each and every day.

“These are the kids that we really need to target because if they’re not in their seat they aren’t learning, and getting them to class is our highest priority because we want them to have more options in life,” she said. “Living in poverty is a stressful existence, and we want to give kids an opportunity to be able to graduate high school and go to college, or trade school, or into the workforce, or the military–all of those things that will hopefully help them have a happy and healthy life. Having A2A will help us do that.”