Butts County Brings Awareness to Student Attendance

The Butts County Life Enrichment Team is sending a clear message that going to school every day is a priority by recognizing students in grades K-12 who have perfect attendance throughout the school year.

The team recently presented more than 300 medals to students, along with seven trophies to those who achieved perfect attendance for their entire middle- or high-school career. Ramirra Marshall, a high-school senior, received a special trophy for achieving perfect attendance throughout her entire school career.

“We are proud and honored to be able to bring awareness to the importance of having good attendance,” said Executive Director Ann-Marie Pope of the attendance program that originated in 2001. “At the end of each year, we present the medals to students during the honors ceremony, in front of all of their friends and families.”

Many of the team’s partners have participated in awards ceremonies, including the Department of Labor, Health Department, Division of Family and Children Services, and Butts County Medical Center. McIntosh Trails and Central Georgia EMC have provided financial assistance for the program.

In 2010, 14.8 percent of students in Butts County were absent from school for more than 15 days—which was well over the state average of 9.7 percent. In 2014, that number decreased significantly to 8.3 percent.

“When we present our awards to students, we focus on the importance of being present to learn and receiving the most out of your education,” said Pope. “We also highlight how it follows into your future career. Having good attendance is not only something expected of you in school—it is expected in your future employment as well.”

Georgia has a deepening commitment to promoting student attendance. State School Superintendent Richard Woods recently recognized schools that experienced the greatest gains in attendance in recent months with a personal visit.

“It’s encouraging to see Butts County and other school districts take on the challenge of reducing chronic absenteeism by improving learning climates to create a more welcoming environment for students, staff, and families, and by reinforcing the message that students have to be present to learn,” said Garry McGiboney, deputy superintendent for policy at the Georgia Department of Education. “Data show that student learning is negatively impacted after just five missed school days, so it’s important to encourage all students to attend school regularly. Plus, we must convey to parents the importance of good attendance.”

Toolkits created by Attendance Works offer examples of attendance incentives and contests to get students excited about coming to school every day, as well as plenty of other resources designed to help everyone who cares about children to take steps to ensure that all students are attending school regularly throughout the school year.