Ready Freddy teaming with Arlington PreK-2 to improve the attendance of kindergarteners
Starting this fall, parents of children attending kindergarten at Arlington PreK-2 are receiving friendly supportive calls when their children are absent from school, through a partnership between the school and the Office of Child Development Ready Freddy program.
School of Social Work graduate student Rodney Glover makes weekly calls to families with the leadership and support of the school's Principal Holly Ballard, Assistant Principal Denise Deltondo, social worker Jennifer Tyler, and kindergarten teachers Lisa Bruckman, Adria Rau, and Lauren Thear. Families receive calls from Mr. Glover in order for the staff to learn if they have any problems getting their children to school.
The hope is parents will develop an appreciation for the school and a belief the staff want to support them. Ultimately the goal is to reduce chronic absence by helping parents understand the importance of kindergarten attendance.
In addition to phone calls, Mr. Glover is creating an attendance competition bulletin board with attendance rates for grades kindergarten, 1, and 2, complete with frogs and lily pads. Students in the winning grade level will receive a small prize at the end of the month.
He also has worked with the school to produce an Arlington PreK-2 Parent Newsletter full of helpful information about monthly lessons, school holidays and off days, and facts about the importance of regular kindergarten attendance.
According to the research one in 10 kindergarten children are chronically absent nationwide. In some districts, that ratio is as high as one in four. Only 17 percent of kids who are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are proficient in reading by the end of third grade. And, 70 percent of kids who don't read well by the end of third grade never catch up, which is an early sign of drop out.
With support from the Birmingham Foundation, and a partnership with Pittsburgh Public Schools, Ready Freddy has been working with Arlington PreK-2 for the past three years, and this year began a similar relationship with Grandview K-5 School where plans are underway to carry out similar attendance work as well as an evaluation of the program.
The Ready Freddy program is designed to help children, their families, communities and schools implement and celebrate successful, positive transition into and through kindergarten and is part of the University of Pittsburgh's Office of Child Development, whose mission is to improve the lives of children and families.