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The United Way Encourages Kids to Go to School the Last 30 Days

The ever greening landscape might make it seem like summer, but there are still 30 days until Pittsburgh Public Schools finishes its year, and the United Way of Allegheny County wants to make sure the students attend each one of them.

That’s why it is kicking off the “Finish the Year Strong: 30 Day Attendance Challenge” Friday.

“The 30 Day Challenge is a program to encourage kids to attend school for the last 30 days,” Christy Stuber, Volunteer Initiative Director, said. “Research has shown that as the school year progresses absenteeism increases, and we want to encourage kids to be there every day for the last 30 days of the school year.”

Volunteers will greet students Friday at Pittsburgh Schiller, Grandview, Faison and Woolslair K-5 schools. Some of hem will do it again in the Swissvale Elementary in Woodland Hills District on Monday.

They will be passing out kits with pencils, erasers and bracelets to encourage the kids to “Be There” for the last 30 days.

According to Stuber, there is a direct link between regular attendance and student outcomes.

“Students only really need to miss ten percent of the school year before their performance begins to suffer, and so that’s only 18 days,” Stuber said. “And increasing a student’s attendance by ten percent has the likelihood of raising the student’s GPA by at least a point.”

The “30 Day Challenge” is the wrap up of the United Way’s “Be There” campaign combatting chronic absenteeism.

The effort started at the beginning of the school year, and as of the end of February many Pittsburgh schools reported improved attendance.

With about 20 percent of students chronically absent in the 2013-14 school year compared to the 33 percent in 2012-13, Woolslair K-5 has seen the most improvement.

However, not all schools have seen the same success.  The number of students who are chronically absent at Uprep 6-12 at Milliones has increased by about 15 percentage points over the last year.

According to Stuber, the United Way will continue it’s “Be There” campaign next year.

“People might think that one or two days doesn’t make a difference, but one or two days does add up,” Stuber said. “And every day that you miss, you’re missing something that you could be learning at school to prepare you for finishing the year, accelerating to the next year and for the rest of your life.”