Count ME In

Count ME In is an innovative partnership of schools, parents, youth, and community organizations. The goal of Count ME In is to improve elementary school attendance by increasing the capacity of school staff, community-based organizations, businesses, and families to address chronic absenteeism. Count ME In seeks to decrease the number of students with chronic absenteeism in Cumberland County elementary schools by 50% by 2018. For this to happen it takes commitment, collaboration, and tailored approaches to the particular challenges and strengths of each school community.

Complex Issues Require Strategic Investments

One of the most important things your child can do to achieve academic success is also one of the most basic: going to school every day. In fact, research has shown that your child’s attendance record may be the biggest factor influencing her academic success.

Improving attendance and reducing chronic absenteeism is a complex challenge. Count ME In is using a data-driven, community-based model to address this challenge. Through utilization of a tool-kit, community partnerships, and data collection to track attendance and monitor interventions, Count ME In offers a universal preventative program for all students, an intervention program for students at risk of chronic absence, and a recovery program targeting students who were chronically absent in the prior year. Success is attainable through systemic reform, tailored programmatic responses, and personalized outreach.

Early Success

Count ME In works with pilot project partners to:

  • Identify improving attendance — in individual schools and district-wide — as a community goal.
  • Create school, agency, and business teams to support students and families and implement the Attendance toolkit.
  • Agree to review and revise district and community agency policies and practices for individual intervention and systematic problem solving.
  • Monitor attendance data for individual students and schools.
  • Engage parents and youth in attendance efforts.
  • Develop a comprehensive statewide early warning system to track student absences and interventions.

The Importance of and Impact of Elementary School Attendance

  • In the last two years, almost 1,000 of Cumberland County students missed more than 10% of their school year. Between 4% and 10% of students in kindergarten through fifth grade missed 18 or more days of school.
  • Starting in kindergarten, absences can affect academic achievement, especially for low-income students unable to make up for lost time.
  • According to research, students who arrived at school academically ready to learn but then missed 10% of their kindergarten and first grade years, scored, on average, 60 points below similar students who had good attendance. Intervening early can reduce the cost of helping students to reconnect and catch up with their peers.

Contact Susan Lieberman, Project Director, at 207-747-9059 or Count ME In.

Thanks to the following for their support of Count ME In.

John T. Gorman Foundation
United Way of Greater Portland
Sam L. Cohen Foundation
The school districts of South Portland, Westbrook, RSU 14, SAD 61, Gorham and RSU 75

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Maine
The Opportunity Alliance
Tri-County Mental Health Services