Nearly four dozen attendance agents, parent organizers hits streets to drive home attendance message/get kids to school in high-touch campaign

The attendance drive aims to reverse a long trend of low and shifting enrollments, particularly during the first weeks of school, which caused DPS to lose $3.5 million in state aid for attendance in first nine days and $25 million throughout the year

 Nearly four dozen Detroit Public Schools attendance agents and parent organizers from the Detroit Parent Network have hit the streets, knocking on 2,150 doors to drive home the district’s message on the importance of attendance and reach out to families impacted by school consolidations.

DPN Parent organizers, who began their door-to-door outreach in July, last year went to 3,523 homes through the high-touch campaign. Attendance agents, who usually start their outreach at the start of the school year, are also now working eight hours a day in a new initiative that more than doubles the outreach to parents prior to the start of school.

The attendance drive is part of the district’s expanded Back-to-School enrollment recruitment drive with an added emphasis on attendance on the first day of teaching and learning, September 6. Last year, 23 schools did not meet their goals for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in the area of attendance alone.

The attendance drive aims to reverse a long trend of low and shifting enrollments, particularly during the first weeks of school. DPS lost $3.5 million in state aid for attendance that was recorded as being below the required 75% for the first nine days (and as low as 51%) last school year and $25 million throughout the year. Reasons include families choosing not to bring students to school until well after the school year began and movement from school to school that made attendance reporting incomplete.

Karen Ridgeway, Interim Superintendent of Academics, said that attendance is a newly focused theme of the campaign. She said the district is in the process of revising its attendance policy.

“Students are expected to be in school on the first day of school, attend school every day and stay in school for the entire school day,” Ridgeway said. “Regular daily attendance in school is extremely important. Research indicates that students who attend school regularly are more likely to be successful during their school years. Regular daily attendance helps students develop good habits of being to school on time, builds a sense of responsibility for completing assignments and allows the instruction they receive to be delivered without interruption. Teaching and Learning begin the first day of school.” 

The daily and weekly community outreach is a staple of the enrollment campaign. In addition to Detroit Parent Network organizers and DPS attendance agents going door to door, the Blue Enrollment van is again trekking the streets of the city and suburbs, visiting parks, reunions, churches, community events and other organized Back to School events. Community groups, block clubs, churches and reunion organizers seeking the van to make an appearance at their events between now and September 6 should email donald.walker@detroitk12.org. The schedule of the van is available on the district’s website.

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