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The Family Attendance Project: An Early Intervention to Truancy

At any given time in the city of Philadelphia, there are approximately 11,000 students who are absent from school without an excuse. This translates into two million instructional days that are lost annually to unexcused absences. There are approximately 30,000 chronically truant children in Philadelphia. Last year, 32% of students were truant according to the School District of Philadelphia Blue Ribbon Commission. 

At Olney East High School, Principal Newton Brown wanted to develop an innovation to help students and their families tackle truancy. He wanted to see truancy education classes that would help to break the cycle of truant behavior.

The Philadelphia Education Fund facilitated a school-community partnership and collaboration that was able to bring Mr. Brown’s vision to fruition. The Family Attendance Project, a series of truancy intervention classes, was born out of several discussions and planning meetings among our partners. The goal is to communicate the serious negative impact of truancy on students' futures and to keep students and their families from having to enter the court system. The series included sessions on truancy laws in Pennsylvania, improving communication among parents/caregivers and their children, adolescent development, problem solving, understanding the CSAP process and using community resources. Classes were conducted for four sessions of one and a half hours each.

One of the unique factors about this series is that parents and children attended together. They explored obstacles that prevented students from getting to class on time and developed strategies to overcome them. They explored their personal school profiles to find out exactly how many cuts, tardies, and absences each child had. The parents and students also explored each child’s academic standing. At the conclusion of the series, students met with the Student Services Advisor to sign their truancy contract. Parents were enthusiastic about the series and commented about how much they learned. Attendance records for participants are being tracked to assess the effect of the student’s attendance.

Partners involved in conducting these classes included the School District of Philadelphia, Office of Attendance and Truancy, The Logan/Olney EPIC, Truancy and Parenting Program of Carson Valley Children’s Aid, Olney High School East school staff, and a Stoneleigh Foundation Policy Fellow. The series was generously funded by the Olney High School Alumni Association.

The next series of the Family Attendance Project will be conducted in Spanish and will begin in March.

A mother and son complete the Family Attendance Project.

Ed Fund Supports Germantown High School Parents with Dinner Series

On October 8, 2010, Ed Fund staff organized a dinner for parents of Germantown High School students. This was the second dinner of the 2010-11 school year, part of a series intended to engage the community in school news and happenings. The event included a presentation by the Ed Fund’s Allie Mulvihill on Early Warning Indicators research.

Ed Fund to Release Secondary Education Blueprint

Please check back again soon, as the Ed Fund will release the Secondary Education Blueprint and an accompanying brochure about the Community Partnerships for Neighborhood High Schools.