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'Showing Up Together': WASD Resurrects Campaign to Promote School Attendance

District Wide

August 24, 2023 | Community

Two campaign posters of the

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AUGUST 24, 2023) — Williamsport Area School District is resurrecting its “Be Present” campaign to raise awareness against and help mitigate chronic absenteeism.

And the timing is just right.

September is national Attendance Awareness Month, and the district has worked through the summer months to reorganize and reenergize its pre-pandemic “Be Present” campaign messaging under the new 2023-2024 slogan, “Showing Up Together.”

“Families play a key role in making sure students access learning opportunities and understand why attendance is so important for success in school and on the job,” said Dr. Brandon Pardoe, WASD’s director of student services. “It is our responsibility as a community to promote regular attendance. Regular attendance is a significant predictor of graduation rates and employment.”

Nationally, an estimated 5 million to 7.5 million students are at risk academically each year because they are chronically absent — missing up to 10 percent or more of school days in excused and unexcused absences, according to report issued by Attendance Works.

“When families understand the negative effects of chronic absenteeism on realizing their hopes and dreams for their children, we can work on improving attendance in WASD,” Pardoe added. “Too many parents and students do not realize that just missing two days each month equates to missing 10 percent of the school year. Families need to realize that absenteeism becomes habitual over a period of time and leads to significant academic deficiencies. Making school attendance a family-based regular routine in the early grades can influence their children’s chances of earning a high school diploma.”

Under amendments made to the Pennsylvania School Code (Act 138) in 2016, the state now “grades” districts on its attendance rates. As a result, the changes prompted WASD to re-work its own attendance policy in 2018. The district’s policy now stipulates “after three days of unlawful absences (including unexcused absences) within one school year, parents will receive a letter from their child’s school that outlines the consequences of habitual truancy and invites them to a School Attendance Improvement Conference. Additional absences beyond the first three unlawful absences may result in a referral to a school-based attendance improvement program, referral to Lycoming County Children and Youth services, and/or a citation for violating compulsory attendance laws.”

Pardoe added the goal is to more broadly mobilize the Williamsport community behind “showing up together.”

By launching its promotional efforts this fall, including a partnership with the City of Williamsport and Lamar Advertising, the district hopes to motivate students and parents by showcasing the academic and social benefits of attending school on a regular basis.  


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