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August 24, 2017

Rewriting the Ending

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

For a moment, visualize hundreds upon thousands of Humpty Dumptys falling off the wall. Picture how the future of Humpty’s community would operate long-term if 40% or 50% of its population were falling on a continual basis (currently, 29% of children in Sarasota are not reading at grade level by the end of third grade, nor are the 50% of children in Manatee County). Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading SCGLR is working to change that!

SCGLR stretches its reach neighborhoods wide and generations deep throughout our region, embedding sustainable change by focusing on five solution areas impacting a child’s ability to read at grade-level by the end of third grade.

–        School Readiness
–        Absenteeism
–        Summer Learning
–        Family Engagement
–        Health

School has just begun, and the excitement of the children is palpable. As we know, children can’t learn if they aren’t in class. Excellent attendance is important – Every Day Counts!

Parents, schools, and the community can work together to influence excellent attendance and focus on school success.

How is attendance related to school success?

  • Chronic absence in Kindergarten is associated with lower academic performance in 1st grade among all children and, for poor children, predicts the lowest levels of educational achievement at the end of fifth grade.
  • By 6th grade, missing 20% (or two months of school)is a critical warning sign of school drop-out.
  • By 9th grade, missing 20% of school can be a better predictor of drop-out than 8th grade test scores.

What can parents do?

  • Help your child get into the habit and learn the value of regular routines.
  • Teach your child that attending school is non-negotiable unless they are truly sick.
  • Build relationships with other families, and discuss how you can help each other out (e.g., drop off or pick up children, babysit, assist with translation) in times of need or emergencies.
  • Identify non-academic activities (drama, art, music, etc.) that can help motivate your child’s interest in school and learning, and seek out schools that can offer those experiences.

What can schools do?

  • Educate families about the adverse impact of poor attendance on school achievement.
  • Inform parents about the positive incentives students receive for good attendance. Consider recognizing parents as well for their role in their child’s attendance.
  • Notify parents that their child’s absence was noticed, either through a call home or an email.
  • Reach out to families to find out what is happening if children begin to miss school regularly. Where appropriate, refer families to available resources in the community.

What can the community do?

  • Teach parents about the importance of regular attendance, starting in kindergarten.
  • Help parents of older students understand that excessive absence is a critical warning sign for dropping out.
  • Partner with schools to provide social work and case-management supports to families of children with extended absences.
  • Address barriers to attendance by offering services (economic supports, social services, etc.) at schools and referring families to other available resources in the community.

Versions of Humpty Dumpty end with the same phrase — All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again. Catching up in school when you’ve fallen behind is almost as hard.

The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading knows that closing the gap so that all children read at grade-level by the end of third grade — no matter what zip code they were born into — starts with people. Each step and every relationship is important, and perhaps that is the “connective tissue” the king’s horsemen have been missing to rewrite the ending.

All the kings’ horses and all the kings’ men
UNITED to put him together again.
They saw what had happened and learned from the past
to create a bright future and one that would last.
They worked hard to clear obstacles blocking the road
So Humpties can thrive in every zip code.

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