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Academic Success

The Academic Success Strategy Network is focusing on reducing chronic absenteeism, defined as missing 10% or more of the school year. The MCSD has made this a major focus of their internal operations. Many community organizations have come together to support the school district in their efforts after realizing the importance of school attendance to our community. According to Attendance Works, absenteeism contributes to high school
dropout rates, because students don’t have the academic credentials and skills needed. Regular attendance also prepares students for the “soft skills” needed to be a reliable employee.

During the 16/17 school year, the academic achievement strategy network was able to quickly align many community resources to start a pilot 4-H leadership program with 6th graders called Ricochet. During the 2017/18 school year, ISU Extension & Outreach Muscatine County expanded the program to be available to a targeted group of 6th and 7th graders at both middle schools. While these students aren’t the typical students who are chosen for leadership opportunities, the school staff sees great potential in these students. The goal is to teach students leadership skills in a group setting with adult volunteers so that they are able to apply those skills to improve their school attendance and engagement.

Long term, this network is looking at how all the needs of students and families can be met in a more coordinated way to help students be successful in school. Central Middle School and many community organizations came together the end of the 2016/17 school year to see how everyone can work together better to coordinate services around students and families in crisis. This group expanded to both middle schools in the 2017/18 school year. With the addition of Trinity Public Health Resource Navigators, the day to day crises of students and families are being addressed quickly. Starting with the 2018/19 school year this group will begin looking at and addressing systemic barriers and root causes of struggles students are facing.

Another cross-collaborative group of school district administrators and community organizations are looking at how to change the culture of Muscatine’s community to value the importance of school attendance. They are implementing a community-wide marketing campaign. Attendance videos can be found on the MCSD Youtube channel. 

Organizations focused on chronic absenteeism:

Absenteeism Strategy Network
Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach – Muscatine County
Muscatine Community School District
UnityPoint-Public Health
United Way of Muscatine
Middle School Coordinated Services (specifically focuses on middle school attendance)
Big Brothers Big Sisters
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach – Muscatine County
Juvenile Courts
Muscatine Community School District
Muscatine Police Department
Muscatine YMCA
UnityPoint-New Horizons
UnityPoint-Public Health
UnityPoint-Robert Young