Nearly 7.5 million students (K – 12th grade) are chronically absent every school year – missing enough school to put them at severe risk of dropping out or failing to graduate. Chronic absenteeism, which is defined as missing at least 10 percent of school days in a given year, or about 18 days, affects the educational outcomes of millions of students.
In order to inspire parents of 5th through 8th graders to recognize the crucial role regular attendance, even in the early years, plays in high school graduation, the U.S. Army and the Ad Council are unveiling a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) created pro bono by advertising agency Publicis Kaplan Thaler.
Every absence, in any grade – excused or not – can impact a child’s academic achievement. As early as 6th grade, missing 18 or more days of school in a year puts a child’s high school graduation at-risk. Missing just two days every month of the school year can allow a child to fall behind, increasing the likelihood of dropping out.
“The U.S. Army recognizes the immense importance of having an educated public and is deeply committed to programs that benefit America’s youth,” said Mark Davis, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Marketing/Director, Army Marketing and Research Group. “We are proud to further our collaboration with the Ad Council to launch these new PSAs on behalf of the BoostUp campaign, continuing our efforts to raise awareness about the dropout crisis and motivate parents to take action on behalf of their children’s education.”
Research shows that students who attend school regularly in their early school years are more likely to learn to read well by the critical third grade milestone, score higher on standardized tests, and graduate and go on to college than students who are chronically absent. Education is crucial to breaking the cycle of poverty, however chronic absenteeism is most prevalent among low-income students. Regular attendance in lower grades is just as important as it is in later years to ensure that a student stays on the path toward graduation.
“A day here or a day there may not seem like a lot, but when you add those absences up, there can be dire consequences,” said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “We hope this PSA campaign will shine a light on the problem of chronic absenteeism and educate parents about the importance of their children attending school every day in order for them to succeed academically and stay on the path toward high school graduation.”
The new English and Spanish-language PSAs ask parents to look at the influence they have over their children’s attendance reminding them that every day missed, excused or not, even in middle school, puts their kids’ graduation at risk. Another, community-targeted execution beautifully illustrates the staggering fact that 7,000 high school students drop out every school day by showing thousands of graduation caps falling from the sky. All audiences are directed to the campaign website BoostUp.org to find out how to help the students in their communities succeed and graduate.
“For us, it’s important that we aren’t simply ad guys, but citizens. And BoostUp is an initiative that is incredibly important to us. We hire young people all of the time. And because of that, there is no greater importance for us than to make sure young people stay in school and keep themselves competitive and prepared for their careers,” said Rob Feakins, Publicis Kaplan Thaler Chief Creative Officer/President.
BoostUp.org offers an assortment of information, resources and ways to get involved including state-by-state dropout statistics, real student stories and information about why students drop out of school and how to help. Parents can access an attendance calculator, courtesy of Get Schooled, where they can chart the impact of their children’s absences on their education. Visitors can also give students boost by submitting a text or video message of support on Boost Nation, a microsite developed in collaboration with the 26 Seconds BMOR campaign. NFL Philadelphia Eagles’ player David Simms is the latest athlete to upload a video on Boost Nation, to show students across the country that he cares that they stay in school and graduate.
“My mother strongly encouraged me to pursue my education, and with caring people in your life, you can reach your goals,” said David Sims safety for the Philadelphia Eagles. “That’s why it’s important we all do our part to inspire at-risk students stay motivated to keep their eyes on the prize and graduate from high school. Give students a ‘boost’ to show your support them and let them know you believe in them.”
Also kicking off today is a social media program designed to further extend the reach of the campaign messages in the online space. Parents, adult influencers, teachers, educational organizations, and advocates are invited to get involved with the BoostUp campaign at BoostUp.AdCouncil.org.