Attendance Awareness

Lake County, Illinois Attendance Awareness - Students at desks
History of Attendance Awareness in Lake County
Since 1988, the Lake County Regional Office of Lake County has hosted an annual Attendance Week Competition for Elementary schools to compete across the county. In recent years, there has been some changes to the competition:
  • 2003 - Divided the "Top Ten" awards into 2 categories
    • Schools with less than 650 students and schools with more than 650 students. This was done in response to a request that it would be harder for large elementary schools to compete with the smaller schools.
  • 2005 - At the request of the Communications Department's Lake County TV division, we began hosting an Attendance Week "Top Ten" Award Ceremony.
    • Each year since then, Lake Count TV has taped the Attendance Week Top Ten. They then run the story on the Lake County TV cable channel and online.
  • 2008 - Attendance Week had grown so much, that the elementary schools were divided into three categories and in addition, we added High Schools as well.
    • Elementary Schools (K-8) were divided up into 3 categories:
      • Less than 450 students
      • 450-624 students
      • More than 625 students
    • High Schools
One of the biggest changes came in 2013. This was a result of a new National Campaign by Attendance Works and many big partners, like America's promise Alliance, Get Schooled, United Way, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Taco Bell Foundation, State Farm and many others. Attendance Works developed what is now known as "Attendance Awareness Month". They have designated September as the month to promote attendance. Each year, they host monthly webinars starting in the Spring to help schools to plan their awareness month activities. In this, they talk about including organizations that are in the communities to participate as well and make it a community effort.

Toolkits
Attendance Works has also prepared different toolkits that are available and free to use. We encourage Lake County schools to take advantage of these tools that are research based and are based on "Best Practices" in the field of attendance. Different toolkits are directed toward a different population: parents, teachers, principals and communities. They have also created posters, brochures and handouts that we are encouraged to use.

Excused Versus Unexcused
This campaign also brings awareness to the fact that whether absences are excused or unexcused, they still count. While "truancy" normally includes only unexcused absences, excused absences add up and they can be just as detrimental for the students academic success. They have even researched information regarding missing school for family vacations.

Lake County's Participation in Attendance Awareness Month
In response to the new Attendance Awareness Month, the Attendance and Truancy Division (ATD) of the Lake County Regional Office of Education has joined with Attendance Works to celebrate the month of September for Attendance Awareness Month. Each Monday through the month of September, the Director of ATD sends out emails to all of the School Administrator's in Lake County with attendance tips and links to resources. One week is selected during September and is still designated as Attendance Week, in which schools compete for recognition of the "Top Ten" in their category. From now on, each year, this Attendance Week will be the first full week of September after the Labor Day holiday.
Top Ten Awards Ceremony
On September 30th of each year, ATD celebrates the end of Attendance Awareness Month with the Top Ten Awards Ceremony. This event typically is held at the College of Lake County's Grayslake Campus. This is an awesome event for the students to participate in. Each school uses different criteria to select which students are invited to attend the award ceremony. Many of the students are selected based on their good attendance, while others might have been part of the planning team for their schools activities during Attendance Week. Some of the schools have invited parents to attend as well, which promotes Parental Involvement.

The ceremony event actually has 2 components - the Award Ceremony and a breakfast. While eating, the students are at tables with students from other schools across the county. They are able to network with their peers in a positive environment.
Attendance Award Ceremony