Tag Archives: Austin ISD

Aim Featured in Building a Grad Nation – An Annual Report from Johns Hopkins University and America’s Promise Alliance

GradNation has an ambitious goal: to increase the graduation rate to 90% by 2020 through research and data-informed strategies. In their annual report released in April 2014, the organization highlighted Aim as a service provider working at the state and local level to increase attendance rates and reduce chronic absenteeism.

The Civic Marshall Plan is part of the report and is described as, “an evolving framework that seeks to share research-based solutions, highlight concrete progress in schools and communities, spark innovation, and build more momentum across the nation to end the dropout crisis. It is not a prescription – every school and community has its own unique set of challenges. Rather, it offers stakeholders a set of 10 evidence-based planks that can be implemented in a variety of innovative ways to improve high school graduation rates and prepare students for college and the workforce.”

Two of the 10 recommendations relate specifically to Aim’s initiatives: Reducing Chronic Absenteeism and Providing Mentoring.

“Before a student can thrive in school, he or she must regularly attend school. As we continue our work toward achieving a national 90 percent high school graduation rate, a focus on reducing chronic absenteeism must be a priority,” says the report.

Aim’s initiative with Austin ISD is highlighted where we worked with over 1,000 students and families and increased attendance rates of participants an average of 15%.

“The AimTruancy model targets numerous factors that contribute to chronic absenteeism. But even when those factors are identified, addressing them solely through school resources can be an overwhelming proposition. Fortunately, there are many promising examples of schools and districts collaborating with community partners, sharing data about the students who consistently miss school, and working jointly to tackle multiple barriers to attendance. This approach alleviates the burden on schools and provides students with the right supports at the right time to keep them in the classroom.”

Since Aim’s intervention strategies are rooted in mentoring and building trusting relationships the recommendation of having adult and peer supports also supports Aim’s strategies.

“Positive role models can help young people develop skills often not systematically taught in the classroom, such as self-awareness, self-control, persistence, collaboration, and conflict resolution. Beyond the classroom, young people benefit greatly from the support of an adult or peer to can help guide healthy decision-making during challenging circumstances.”

“Research affirms that having these non-academic components in place results in increased academic achievement, social competence, and civic engagement, regardless of race or family income (Balfanz et al., 2007). These supports are therefore a key component to move the nation closer to our 2020 goal.”

We encourage you to read the full report that is full of useful resources and information:
Building a Grad Nation – Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic
A Report By:
Civic Enterprises
Everyone Graduates Center
at the School of Education
at Johns Hopkins University
America’s Promise Alliance
Alliance for Excellent Education
Lead Sponsor
Supporting Sponsor
Written by
Robert Balfanz
John M. Bridgeland
Joanna Hornig Fox
Jennifer L. DePaoli
Erin S. Ingram
Mary Maushard
Data analysis by
Mark Pierson
Vaughan Byrnes

5 Recommendations To Reduce Truancy and Improve Attendance from Arne Duncan

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan along with Kamala D. Harris, the attorney general of California, penned an Op-Ed appearing in the LA Times with their thoughts on solving problems of truancy. While the focus was on California, the advice resonates anywhere students are missing school.

“It’s clear that intervention helps,” the op-ed says. “As needed, schools should connect families with social services, public health and community resources to address underlying problems. Parents must be held accountable, and law enforcement should support interventions that educate and bolster struggling students and parents.”

The Op-Ed coincides with the release of an in-depth report on Truancy in California, which is available at http://oag.ca.gov/truancy, but the key findings include five recommendations for schools and districts:

1) Accurately track individual attendance in order to make informed intervention decisions
2) Intervene quickly – even after the very first unexcused absence
3) Collaborate with local service organizations including public agencies and faith-based communities
4) Design and implement a communication strategy to educate families on the importance of school attendance, including the legal consequences
5) Reassess any policies that may be counterintuitive, such as suspending a student for non-attendance or expelling a student from school when an alternative learning environment would be more beneficial

“The Key recommendations in the California study mirror the services that Aim provides districts everyday,” said Aim’s founder Paul Pottinger, Ph.D Clinical Psychlogy. “Early identification of at-risk and truant teens, increasing accuracy in school attendance reporting, educating parents and students about attendance, and working with local organizations to help families resolve whatever issue may be keeping their student from attending school are all under the umbrella of our current offerings.”

Austin ISD’s Carstarphen Weighs in on AimTruancy Program

August 22, 2013 – AUSTIN, TX – AimTruancy Solutions provided mentoring and case management support services to over 1000 students and families in Austin ISD during the 2012-2013 school year, and during an interview with NBC affiliate KXAN, Superintendent Meria Carstarphen discussed what the district’s priorities for the upcoming school year and also weighed in on the success of the AimTruancy program.

When asked if the Aim program helped contribute to the district’s 95% attendance rate, $5 million in additional funding, and record-high graduation rates – Carstarphen responded, “Oh Absolutely. Yea – some of it’s out-of-the box, some of its age-old and true. It’s a combination of things because every student has a different circumstance. Every child and their family has their own context that they’re trying to live in and go to school in.”

Aim provides students with positive one-on-one mentoring to help students succeed. Goal setting, accountability, and giving students hope are all key components to what we do.

Watch the full report from KXAN here:

Austin ISD Earns Additional $250,000 With Help from AimTruancy Mentor Program

February 8, 2013 – AUSTIN, TX – AimTruancy solutions is currently working with over 800 students in 9 Austin ISD high schools and the preliminary results are in. According to Austin ISD’s Attendance Report, the campuses AimTruancy currently serves are up an average of 2% during the third six weeks, which translates into an additional $250,000 just during that period.

Annually, that increase would mean additional $1.5 Million for Austin ISD from those schools alone.

KXAN-TV News in Austin did an in-depth investigation into the program and spoke with Austin ISD officials, students on the program, and parents of students enrolled.

“I’m glad AISD did this,” said Bertha Cherry, the Dropout Prevention Specialist at Akins High School which has over 200 students currently receiving mentoring services.
One parent whose child is enrolled in the program told KXAN, “I’m glad they picked her (to participate) because it’s definitely helped her a whole lot.”

Watch the full investigative report from KXAN here:

AimTruancy Solutions Increasing Attendance in Austin ISD


Copyright: Austin American-Statesman

January 3, 2013 - The Austin American-Statesman recently took an in-depth look at Austin ISD’s use of the AimTruancy program in nine of it’s high schools.

“It’s very helpful,” one student enrolled in the program told the newspaper. “At the beginning of the school year, I messed up a lot, and I skipped. I decided to take the second chance they were giving me and be in the program. Ever since I’ve been in that program, it made me focus more on my classes.”

“If our students don’t attend, they can’t get the instruction they need from their classes,” Crystal Bernard, the district’s administrator supervisor for high school programs told the paper. “It’s marrying the technology that our students are already comfortable with, to get them excited about coming to and attending school.”

The article added that increasing attendance in Central Texas by as little as 2% would increase district income by $34 million.

For the full article, please visit the Austin American-Statesmen.

Austin ISD Expands AimTruancy Program to Eight High Schools

After a successful pilot of the AimTruancy Solutions program at one high school, Austin ISD is finalizing its expansion into an additional seven high schools with over 1000 students expected to take part in the program.

“We were looking for something innovative, unique — something that we hadn’t done before,” said Lisa Goodnow, former Interim Director of High Schools for the Austin Independent School District while speaking to KXAN-Austin News.

Average attendance for kids in the pilot program at Eastside Memorial jumped from 78 percent to 90 percent, and twelve out of thirteen seniors in program graduated.

“It’s hard to say for sure the students wouldn’t have made it, but I think that we’re beginning to see results that suggest that it was a critical component,” said Goodnow.

Source: KXAN News

Texas Judge Says Truancy Program is a “Huge Success”

February 22, 2012 – Bryan, TX – Judge Tommy Munoz is passionate about getting students on the right track to graduate and be productive citizens of his community. Two years ago he partnered with AimTruancy Solutions to help combat the number of truancy cases in Brazos County and Bryan ISD.

“I think it’s been a huge success.”Munoz told local news station ABC40, “We’ve had a lot of students written letters and parents sending thank you notes.”

“The truancy program not only serves as a tracking device, but more of a mentoring system.” Munoz continued, “They have coaches, mentors that talk to the students.”

Aim’s dropout prevention and truancy reduction program currently serves hundreds of high schools across Texas and the United States.

“We listen to what’s going on in their life and we start leading them to what is ultimately much more decisions, much better quality of life,” AimTruancy CEO Travis Knox told ABC40, “but it all starts with education and education starts with getting to school on time.”

La Joya ISD Teams with AimTruancy Solutions

October 12, 2011 - Texas law requires that students who fail to go to school be filed on – and in La Joya ISD, the number of truancy cases last year was nearly 1,200.

Students and their parents can face steep fines, community service, and be required to pay court costs on each of these cases.

It’s the district’s goal to keep kids out of the courtroom and in the classroom, and has now partnered with AimTruancy Solutions to increase attendance.

Aim’s approach combines one-on-one mentoring and the responsibility of carrying a GPS location verification device to help students get back on track to graduate.

Several local news stations covered the new partnership, and below is a clip from News Center 23.

AimTruancy Solutions Visits National Dropout Prevention Conference

October 10th, 2011 - AimTruancy Solutions is in the Greater Chicago area this week for the annual National Dropout Prevention Conference, where truancy experts and educational leaders from across the country gather to share the latest research and approaches to dropout and truancy prevention.

“Keeping students in school though high school graduation is critical to their future success and to the success of our country,” said Illinois Governor Pat Quinn when welcoming the participants to the 2011 Dropout Prevention conference.

AimTruancy Solutions will be on hand to answer questions about the approach that continues to help districts across the United States increase school attendance and achievement.

“When truants become graduates, they break the dropout-to-prison cycle,” says Travis Knox, president of AimTruancy Solutions. “Truancy is the first step to dropping out, and dropping out often leads to joblessness, welfare, crime, and prison – the costs to society are staggering.”

Texas Governor Signs Truancy Prevention Amendments Into Law

July 26, 2011 - New Texas Legislation was recently signed into law, and while Senate Bill 1489 has many different parts, one section deals specifically with how schools handle truancy cases.

The new bill amends the Texas Education Code and requires school districts adopt truancy prevention measures prior to referring and filing a truancy case with the courts.

According to the new legislation, the truancy programs must be designed to “address student conduct related to truancy in the school setting,” and “minimize the need for referrals to juvenile court” or “justice court alleging truancy,” among other filing requirements.

Aim’s current clients are likely already in full compliance with the new requirements under this specific part of the new law.

For more information on the specifics of the law, visit Aim’s 1489 Compliance Section.