Students, teachers and parents gather outside Horace Mann Elementary School in Dayton at the end of a school day. Horace Mann had the second-highest attendance rate of Dayton Public Schools in the first semester. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF
Photo: JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF
Photo: JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF

Dayton schools’ student attendance flat despite incentive campaign

First-semester student attendance rates in Dayton Public Schools were almost exactly level with last school year, after an attendance decline in November and December.

The overall student attendance rate was 90.59% in the first semester, 0.03% ahead of the same period last year, according to district documents. As of Nov. 8, the attendance rate had been 91.63%, which was 0.21% ahead of that date for 2018-19.

NOVEMBER: Dayton schools’ attendance push off to slow start

DPS launched a good-attendance campaign this summer, featuring incentives including gas cards for parents, bike and movie ticket giveaways for kids, plus parties for the classes that have the highest attendance.

Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said in August that attendance is crucial to student achievement. State data shows a clear correlation between districts with high student absenteeism and those with poor scores on state tests.

Dayton ranked among the state’s bottom 10 school districts in attendance for each of the past three years, and Assistant Superintendent Shelia Burton said the hope was to see at least a 1 percentage point increase per year, with a long-term goal of 95% attendance.

District leaders cited some first-semester positives from the Be Present for a Better Future campaign this week.

AUGUST: DPS launches new attendance campaign

** The chronic absenteeism rate — students who miss more than 10 percent of the school year – was 25.5% in the first semester, 2.15% better than the same period last year. Again, that rate suffered in November and December, but not as badly as it did in those months last year.

** Overall, 1,022 students were offered free Wright State basketball tickets for having perfect first-semester attendance.

** And attendance improved on some “Be Present” days – targeted days where attendance has traditionally lagged, such as the days before or after holidays. On the last day before Winter Break, attendance was up 5.03% compared to last year, according to DPS officials.

On an individual building level, 12 schools’ attendance rate is up from last year, 12 schools are down, and one (River’s Edge) is exactly the same. Stivers (95.25%) and Horace Mann (94.92%) had the highest first-semester attendance rates, while Thurgood Marshall (81.18%) and Meadowdale (84.15%) were lowest.

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Dunbar and Louise Troy had the biggest year-over-year attendance increases (up 3.64% and 1.78% respectively), while Thurgood Marshall and E.J. Brown had the biggest decreases (down 4.86% and 3.02% respectively).

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