A Note from Ms. Brandee


Goals for 2023: Healthy, On Time & Present 

Greetings, Compass Community,
I hope that your family is experiencing a wonderful start to 2023!  We still have a few days left in January, so I'll take a moment to say, "Happy New Year!" 

The Compass School's New Year's Resolution 

Just as individuals reflect on goals and resolutions at this time of year, our Compass team does as well.  After reviewing the data, we've decided to focus on improving student attendance in 2023.  Our mantra is Healthy, On Time, and Present. 

The mantra starts with Healthy because in order to be at school, our students and staff alike need to be well enough to be here.  This sure has been a doozy of a year for illness with continued Covid cases topped with flu and even RSV.  I hope your family wasn't hit too hard by these illnesses and if you were, I hope this email finds you on the mend. 

I'm reaching out to you because I am concerned about the amount of instructional time Compass kids are missing due to absences.  We're experiencing record high absences this year.  Some of the time, it is due to illness, but not all the time.  Illness combined with family time is attributing to HUGE amounts of time out of the classroom.  Yikes. 

Chronic Absenteeism Data 

RI Dept of Education (RIDE) defines "chronic absenteeism" as missing more than 10% of the school year; at the end of the year, if a student missed more than 18 out of 180 days, he/she would be chronically absent. 

Monday is our 90th day - we're halfway there! (Break into the Bon Jovi song) :).  If you child has missed 9 or more days of school, he/she is currently identified by RIDE as being chronically absent.  

Pre-Pandemic Data 

It's important to note that pre-pandemic, Compass didn't have an attendance challenge. 
  • Pre-pandemic, about 9% of Compass students were identified as being chronically absent
  • 9% is still higher than I'd like to be, but it means that 91% of our students had "good attendance"
2022-2023 Data 
We're halfway through the year and it pains me to share the data with you, but the first part of climbing out from rock bottom is acknowledging where we are
  • As of 1/27/23, 35% of Compass students are identified as chronically absent
  • That means that at the halfway mark of the school year, only 65% of students have "good attendance"

RIDE Initiatives 

The Rhode Island Department of Education recognizes that chronic absenteeism is a statewide issue and is taking initiative.

They have developed a research partnership with Harvard University and are rolling out a number of tools to the public and to school leaders/families.  

RIDE has recently rolled out two tools which include: 
  • The Statewide Leaderboard 
  • The Attendance Nudge: Personalized High Absenteeism Notices  
The Statewide Leaderboard

Updated every day, this tool ranks every school in the state by their percentage of students identified as being chronically absent.  The fewer chronically absent students a school has, the higher their ranking.  
Click to View the Statewide Attendance Leaderboard
Folks who have known me for a while know that I am incredibly competitive (in a good way most of the time ;).  I have high expectations want the best for our students.  Being healthy, on time and in school is important to our students success.  

With that in mind, you can imagine how I'm feeling about Compass ranking #203 out of 266 in the state for positive school attendance right now.  Man oh Man! :/ 

At the same time, everyone loves a come from behind win I believe that with increased awareness, focus on wellness, and school-wide prioritization of in-person attendance, we will move leaps and bounds! 

The Attendance Nudge: Personalized High Absenteeism Notices  

RIDE also developed a tool that generates personalized high absenteeism notices in just 3 clicks. 

Similar to the energy usage report that you might receive from the electric company, this letter shows a graph comparing the average number of absences for a typical student at the school with your child's absences. 

It looks like this: 
Note that the tally does not distinguish excused absences from unexcused absences.  We are measuring loss of instructional time, which includes absences for any reason. 
As with any New Year's Resolution, it's important to measure progress over time. 

With that in mind, I will send you a monthly update on the last Friday of every month that includes: 
  • A Note from Ms. Brandee communicating our current ranking on the statewide leaderboard AND the percentage of students currently identified as being chronically absent. 
  • A school wide send home of personalized high absenteeism notices for all those who are absent for 10% or more of the school year. 
It's painful to look at the data, but we've got to do it. 

It's the equivalent of stepping on the scale on the day before you start your new diet
The red 75 Chronic Absent alarm means that 75 students received a high absenteeism attendance letter today with a graph like the one I showed above. 
  • If your child is in K-4th grade, it is in his/her home/school folder.
  • If your child is in 5th-8th grade, it is in the mail

If you got a letter, take a breath.  Know that the purpose is to raise awareness and momentum toward our collective Healthy, On Time, and Present in 2023 goal.  Now, you know and knowledge is power. 

There is no judgement, just a commitment to offering our kids the best instruction that we can offer.  The thing is, they have to be AT school to receive that instruction.

I look forward to celebrating our collective accomplishments as we make great progress in the attendance department.  I am confident we can do it. 

Until the February Attendance Report! 

In Partnership,
Ms. Brandee 

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The Compass School · 537 Old North Rd · Kingston, RI 02881 · USA

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