Draft Action Research Project Progress Report
a. Title – How Do We Increase Student Attendance?
b. Needs Assessment – The Site Based Decision Making Committee met in the fall of 2011 and student attendance was one area that the committee mentioned they would like to see improvement. When speaking with my site supervisor, student attendance was the first thing she brought up. Dee Arterburn, our campus principal and my site supervisor, showed me current attendance data and pointed out the economically disadvantaged subgroup which had a noticeable difference from other subgroups. This data supported the need for improvement in this area.
c. Objectives and Vision of the action research project. (ELCC 1.1)- An incentive and reward system will be put into place on our campus during the spring 2012 semester. Each grade level will compete for the best attendance and the grade level with the highest attendance at the end of each six weeks will be rewarded with a party.
d. Review of the Literature and Action Research Strategy (LCC 2.3) – I am still in the process of researching my chosen topic of study, however, I have been able to gather valuable information from several sources.
- Ken Reid. (1999). Truancy and schools. London: Routledge.
- Eric Blyth , & judith Milner, (1999). Improving school attendance. London: Routledge.
- Douglas B. Reeves. (2008, May). Improving student attendance. Educational Leadership, 65(8), 90-91.
e. Articulate the Vision (ELCC 1.2) – As I created a vision of what a successful attendance reward program would look like, I began to put it together in a way that I hoped would attract students as well as teachers. Most teachers I met personally with to discuss the improvement plan. We discussed how great it would be to have our kids in the classroom, instead of missing valuable instructional time. All teachers I spoke with were all for the plan, but some were skeptical that it would work. Following the personal contact with the teachers and staff, teachers received a memo in their box as well as a friendly, positive e-mail from me stating that our campus would be implementing an Attendance Race in hopes of increasing student attendance and asking them to encourage the students and spread the word. Students were informed through our daily campus televised announcements. With the help of one of our amazing tech savy teachers, I created an ad that was televised weekly. Our campus art teacher also helped me create a Guitar Hero monitor that was placed in the front entry of our school building so students could easily see what grade level had the best attendance each week. The grade level with the highest percentage of attendance would be rewarded with a party.
f. Manage the organization (ELCC 3.1) – Organizing implementation of the project took lots of work, and help from many faculty members. Rhonda White, our art teacher, helped me design and create a very large Guitar Hero monitor that was strategically placed on the wall at the front entry of the school. This way all students could easily see which grade level had the best attendance each week . With the help of Ann Witherspoon, I was able to develop and create a commercial on the Attendance Race that we played during our televised student announcements. By adding fun music and several popular movie clips, we were able to catch students’ attention. Deborah Blansit was responsible for keeping accurate attendance and sending it to me weekly. In addition, she also sent me an official copy of our campus attendance from central office every six weeks. Diana Bales, our campus secretary, is amazing and was responsible for all of the finances, including purchasing food and drink for the reward parties, and preparing the six week attendance gift cards for the students. Our librarian, Becky Schuffield, was a huge help during the 5th six weeks Movie Party, helping me set up the projector and video, as well as assisting with the student attendance survey at the end of the 2011-2012 school year. Mrs. Leslie Kyle, our technology teacher, was responsible for running the Attendance Race commercial so that students had a weekly reminder. During the entire research project I had to stay very organized and learned just how important effective communication really is. Another factor that was very critical during this research project was time. This action research project took more time than I anticipated. There was weekly data to calculate, and so many people involved, that I had to make sure that I was on top of my game. I found myself doing all kinds of random jobs, that I would not normally do, including bagging popcorn for one of our reward parties. I am grateful that I have made so many strong relationships on my campus, because without them I would have had a much more difficult time. Materials that were used included art supplies, video ad, movie, karaoke machine, ice-cream, snacks, and monetary rewards. During this entire process the students came first above all else. An example of this took place during the 6th six weeks Attendance Reward Party when seventh grade students were free to move from gymnasium to the cafeteria, playing ball, hanging with friends, and singing karaoke. I was the acting administrator, and had many teachers helping me supervise the event. However, several students were anxious to get on the bus, and while some teachers were playing ball with the students, others were busy socializing with each other. At one point I noticed two or three students attempting to sneak off towards the bus line. I had to act quickly, but was able to stop them before they got too far. I then had to ask a couple of teachers to manage that area of the cafeteria in order to avoid a similar incident. Above all else, students’ safety comes first.
g. Manage Operations (ELCC 3.2) – During this project I was fortunate to have a principal that was very willing to listen to my ideas and quick to let me take charge. After deciding together what our campus needs were, I was unltimately responsible for everything. I made my own set of priorities, and was responsible for recruiting help, delegating jobs, and communicating with the staff. It was a true test of my ability to lead. I am grateful to have had the opportunity.
h. Respond to Community Interest and Needs (ELCC 4.2) – I feel that my action research project with serve all students, due to the fact that students need to be in the classroom in order to avoid missing valuable instructional time. Specifically, I feel that my research project will help those students that are economically disadvantaged. I feel that if we can just get those students to class, it will make a world of difference for them. In addition, an Attendance Reward Party may be so very special to them. Something as simple as popcorn and a movie, might be extra special.