Glenville’s “Fight for Five” Attendance Campaign Curbs Chronic Absenteeism
Chronic absenteeism — missing 15 days or more in a school year, as according to the U.S. Department of Education — is a national epidemic. High school students are at the highest risk for absenteeism, and minority and low-income students face the largest social and economic hurdles contributing to continued truancy.
One CMSD school, Glenville High School is incentivizing students who show up on time for classes five days a week. Glenville is one of 25 schools implementing United Way of Greater Cleveland’s wraparound strategy. As part of the wraparound strategy, the school has a site coordinator to help struggling students overcome outside barriers to education, including poverty, health care and family needs.
“Fight for Five” identifies chronically absent students and connects them with a staff mentor. Mentors include all Glenville High School staff, from resource officers to science teachers. Each mentor is matched with five mentees, making it easier for school administrators to see if a student’s absenteeism lessens over time.
Sydney Wheatley, a sophomore at Glenville, made a “complete turnaround” during her freshman year, because of Fight for Five. Starting out, Wheatley didn’t take things seriously — skipping classes, missing full days and eventually marked as chronically absent. Intervening before the problem became any worse, she was placed in the program by Glenville’s site coordinator, Kellee Smith. Wheatley was pair with Andretta Montgomery, an English and special needs teacher.
“Before we started Fight for Five, I was late to class,” Wheatley says. “Then, once Ms. Montgomery presented Fight for Five to me, I was motivated to come to school [and] be on time to classes because I’m not going to get anywhere [in life] if I’m late to class or just at home in my bed.”