Doughnuts, pizza parties and adults in dinosaur costumes were a few of the ways Michigan schools tried to entice students to show up for “count day” this month — one of two days throughout the year that are used to determine school funding, according to Chalkbeat.
Because most of the funding is based on the October count, schools get pretty creative in planning their fall activities to encourage attendance.
The count days have become increasingly important to schools in recent years as the school-age population has declined, Chalkbeat notes.
According to the article, Michigan is one of nine states that uses a couple count days during the year to determine funding levels. Average daily attendance is another method used in some states for allocating funding to local schools, but researchers note that it negatively affects schools with high chronic absenteeism rates and can negatively affect those with higher populations of low-income and minority students.
Other methods, according to this review by the Education Commission of the States, include counting periods that can last as long as 40 days to average daily membership, which focuses on students who are enrolled for an entire year but didn’t necessarily have good attendance.
There are strengths and weaknesses to each method, experts say. And even though some schools and districts are still going all out to get students in the door on “count” day, it’s clear that the focus on the negative effects of high absenteeism in recent years have led to ongoing efforts to ensure that students, and their parents, understand the importance of coming to school every day. Attendance Works, a national campaign, suggests that “teaching attendance” is more than just taking roll every day. The organization’s new toolkit provides guidance on what individual teachers can do as well as examples of whole-school approaches and parent engagement strategies.