Attendance is a major factor in student achievement, whether at the elementary or secondary level, and for several years now, schools across the nation have been battling student attendance issues. That battle is also taking place in the city of Cranston, as schools study their attendance data, trying to determine why students aren’t coming to school.
At Park View Middle School, the student School Improvement Team (SIT) worked with the faculty and staff to help attack the attendance issue.
“The student SIT team was charged with trying to come up with incentives to get kids to come to school,” said Rhonda Marro, a teacher at the school. “They decided to poll their peers first, to see why they weren’t coming to school to begin with. They did interviews in the cafeteria and they created polls, and many times the answer was that they weren’t coming to school because they didn’t feel like it.”
According to Marro, the SIT team decided to put together an incentive program for the entire student body, based on the past attendance data from the second quarter, and going forward through the third quarter. At the end of the third quarter a reward would be given to students who showed improved attendance.
The program that the students came up with was a four-tiered program. “Going forward, if the students missed zero to three days in the second quarter, they could not miss more than two in the third quarter,” she said. “If they missed four to six days in the second quarter, they had to cut that in half. If they missed seven to nine days in the second quarter, they could not miss more than four days in the third quarter, and if a student missed ten days or more in the second quarter, they couldn’t miss more than four in the third quarter. We know that students do get sick, and often they aren’t sick enough to go to a doctor to get a doctor’s note, making those types of days unexcused absences, so we figured in one or two unexcused days for everyone.”
Those students who met the goals set forth by their peers would have the opportunity to take part in a large-group Kahoot, a computerized trivia game often used for classroom study sessions, but able to be customized for any occasion. The big event took place on Friday, April 13, right before the school spring vacation began.
“The student SIT team worked incredibly hard on this. They created three different Kahoot games for the three different grades, each game having three different rounds,” Marro said. “We’ve had one student up in the booth running the games all day, and other kids working as emcees and still others reading out the questions. Each round has 30 questions. All three grades had a Pop Culture round and a Video Game round. The sixth-graders had YouTubers as their final round, the seventh-graders had Latest Trends as their final round and the eighth-graders had Park View Middle School as their final round.”
According to data from teacher Ryan Kavanaugh, the sixth grade had an 89 percent participation rate, the seventh grade had a 71 percent participation rate and the eighth grade had an 87 percent participation rate, with a total of 556 out of 679 students participating, or 82 percent.
With any good competition, there are prizes, and the student SIT team at PVMS came up with prizes that included incentives such as a pie in the face of an administrator, local restaurant gift cards, and lunch with friends served by Kavanaugh.
“They’ve been running the games all day and the students are having a great time,” Marro said. “The Kahoot requires a device, and most kids brought their own, but we had them for students who did not have their own so that no one would be excluded.”
According to Marro, the student-driven incentives were deemed a success.
“The third quarter data definitely showed improvement,” she said.