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CPS aims to increase first-day attendance

Back to school bells will be ringing soon, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett reminded families Wednesday in the hopes of increasing first-day attendance.

Emanuel and Byrd-Bennett spoke to the media Wednesday at Brennemann Elementary School, the school with the highest gain in ISAT scores — almost 28 percent — from 2012 to 2013 in the city. They emphasized the importance of CPS schools citywide having high attendance when school starts Aug. 26.

“I’m extremely excited about the countdown to the beginning of the school year because we are launching and continuing to build on the shoulders of great success over the last couple years,” said Emanuel. “The city of Chicago not only has the best graduation rate in its records, but also the best college attendance.”

This is the first year since the 2008-09 school year all CPS schools will start on the same day. In previous years, some CPS schools were on the “regular track,” while others were on “Track E,” which was a year-round schedule.

Byrd-Bennett said that a grassroots campaign — including emails, robocalls, yard signs and kick-off events — to encourage first-day attendance would aim to beat last year’s first-day attendance rate. In the 2012-13 school year, attendance hit almost 95 percent for kids in schools on the regular track and about 88 percent for kids in schools on Track E, said CPS press secretary Keiana Barrett.

“We know from all of the research, and I know from practice, that students who attend school on the first day are far more likely to attend school throughout the school year,” she said. “Starting on the right foot just sets the tone that we want, it sets our expectations for all students throughout the school year.”

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