Chicago Public Schools announced that first day attendance numbers for regular start schools (Track R) on Tuesday, September 6th, was 94.7%, up from 92.9% last year. This represents the highest attendance for Track R schools since CPS began recording attendance figures using a new tracking system several years ago.
CPS launched an aggressive campaign in July that included grassroots and new media tools to build awareness among parents and students about the first day school for both early start schools (Track E) and Track R schools. The District previously reported an increase in first-day attendance at Track E schools, which began August 8th, to 88.1%, up from 86.8% in 2010.
CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard praised the CPS back-to-school partners for their efforts to help build awareness to get students to school on the first day.
“This year, we took an unprecedented approach to build awareness among families and students all over the city about the importance of being in school on the first day, which is critical to student success in the classroom as it sets the tone for the school year and helps build good attendance habits,” said CEO Brizard. “All of our partners really stepped up this year and I’m very grateful for all they did to help us boost these numbers to have a successful first day.”
On Tuesday, September 6, CEO Brizard joined Mayor Rahm Emanuel to ring in the new Track R school year at STEM Magnet School, one of three schools that voted last Friday to lengthen their school day to include 90 minutes of additional instructional time.
First day for Track R was also supported through a unique partnership between CPS and the Chicago Transit Authority. Students and parents or guardians accompanying them were able to ride CTA buses and trains to and from school free of charge yesterday.
During the summer and right up until the start of school on Tuesday, CPS engaged in a comprehensive back to school campaign to educate all Chicagoans on the importance of first day and every day attendance. The multi-faceted campaign has included door-to-door visits by Brizard and Mayor Rahm Emanuel to emphasize the start dates of CPS schools. CEO Brizard also participated in a CPS phone bank to parents.
Special Chicago celebrities and sports figures also helped the efforts to get kids back to school through PSAs and robo-calls covering all households.
Mayor Emanuel also issued a Call to Action for City departments and sister agencies, local businesses, faith leaders and community organizations to boost the Chicago Public Schools efforts to have students in school on the first day.
The campaign drew the support of corporate sponsors such as Wal-mart Stores Inc., ClearChannel Communications Inc., Target Corp., BMO Harris Bank, Chartwell-Thompson Hospitality, Fleishman-Hillard, Comcast, Discover, Loop Capital, PNC Bank, Bank of America, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Foundation, the Chicago Tribune Foundation and The Museum of Science and Industry.
Contributions from the following members of the business community helped subsidize the cost of students riding the CTA for free on the first day of school: Garrett Popcorn Shops, Discover Financial Services, AT&T, Microsoft Corporation, PNC (Bank), Hyatt Hotel Corporation and Preferred Meal Systems.
Also, Chicago Public Schools and Groupon’s G-team partnered on an offer that allowed Chicagoans to purchase school supply kits for CPS low-income students. The Kits for Kidz campaign was available for three days and Chicagoans pledged over $15,000 for over 1,200 kits – more money was raised through this effort with Groupon’s G-Team than any other campaign in any other city. These kits were a vital part of helping students get ready for the first day of school.
CPS also worked with the faith community and local organizations throughout the city in building awareness and support for first day and every day attendance.
During the campaign, CPS placed special emphasis to target the city’s areas with the highest truancy rates. These areas are Englewood, Humboldt Park, East Garfield, West Garfield, North Lawndale, Woodlawn and Austin.
Additionally, CPS utilized grassroots activities, advertising, and social media strategies, including: door-to-door outreach, robo-calls to households of CPS students, targeted literature drops at CTA stations, bus stations and neighborhood festivals, phone bank calls targeting parents, a CTA ad campaign, text messages and e-mail notifications and Google and Facebook ads.
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