Oxford Elementary School will be taking steps to combat truancy in their building

By Shelby Stewart-Soldan
Staff Writer
OXFORD TWP. — During the Oxford Community Schools Board of Education meeting on April 23, Oxford Elementary Principal Jeff Brown presented on their current Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) work and what they plan to do next school year for the current student absentee rates.
“This is nation-wide data. I was shocked when I found that only 37% of students nation-wide have 95% or better attendance rate. That is concerning,” said Brown. “We’ve got 180 school days, 10% of that is 18, so 5% is nine school days.”
At Oxford, he compared attendance numbers before the COVID-19 pandemic and after. For the 2018-2019 school year, the average attendance rate was 95.8%, with 15 students who were between 80-90% attendance and two students below 80% attendance. Below 80% attendance is considered truant.
In the 2023-2024 school year, the current attendance rate is 92.6% attendance, with 87 students between 80-90% attendance and nine students below 80% attendance.
“That number between 80% and 90%, they haven’t hit the threshold where we would typically be reporting to a truancy officer, but they’ve hit the point where their attendance is affecting their academic learning,” said Brown. “It’s not just a child’s fault that they’re not coming to school when they’re eight, nine, 10 years old.”
Brown said when staff pulled the attendance data, they noticed the children who were receiving tier two PBIS intervention with the check-in/check-out system had higher attendance rates. Students with that system receive extra check-ins throughout the day to see if they’re meeting their goals, and it includes a morning check-in.
“So one of the ideas we came up with for our attendance students for next year is we’re going to involve them in the check-in/check-out program,” he said. “They don’t need the sheet of paper to take around, they just need the high five, the hello, the handshake to start their day.”
School staff are also attempting a parent-involvement goal for absences.
“When a child reaches five absences, our part-time office secretary is going to alert the teacher, the teacher is then going to be asked to make direct contact with that family,” he said. “A phone call or a letter. They’re going to ask two questions: ‘We noticed your child has been absent for five days, is there anything going on we should know about?’ and ‘How can we help you with attendance?’ By fostering more connections, we’re hoping that won’t go from five to 10.”
Brown also said they will do a lunch club with students who have excessive absences.
“Our goal is to meet with those kids over pizza once a month just to hang out and build relationships with those kids,” he said. “This is not an OES problem, this is not an Oxford problem, this is not an Oakland County problem. This is a nationwide problem since COVID. But we can’t have 87 kids missing between 80-90 percent.”

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