Fulton Public Schools recently released attendance data for the 2022-23 school year, with the district falling short of the overall attendance goal.
The district had 81.55 percent of students attend school for 90 percent or more for the school year.
The highest percentage of students who attended 90 percent or more was kindergarten, with 90.06 percent. Third and second grade closely followed with 89.70 percent and 89 percent, respectively.
The lowest percentage of students who met the attendance goal was 12th grade, with 66.86 percent.
Data released by the district also shows attendance breakdown by building. Bartley Elementary School had 90.21 percent, Bush Elementary School had 86.10 percent, McIntire Elementary School had 86.43 percent, Fulton Middle School had 79.86 percent and Fulton High School had 74.15 percent.
Chris Hubbuch, assistant superintendent for FPS, said the district had a goal of 85 percent attendance overall. This would be an improvement of 10 percent over last year's attendance rate of 74.9 percent.
The average student attendance over the past decade is 83.8 percent, Hubbuch said.
2022-23 was the first time FPS implemented an attendance awareness campaign.
"The expectation of the awareness campaign was to inform students and families of the importance of regular attendance, monitor and report progress throughout the year, and celebrate improvements," he said.
The 6.65 attendance improvement over last school year is a "significant improvement," Hubbuch said.
The largest improvements from last year are in kindergarten (11 percent), 11th grade (12 percent) and first grade (13 percent).
FPS is encouraged by the attendance improvement, even with the district shy of the overall goal.
"This year's attendance rate was the best in Fulton since the 2019 school year, which means more opportunities for student learning and mastery of grade-level competencies," Hubbuch said. "Some of the greatest improvements this year occurred in grades K-3, which are critical years for literacy development. We are optimistic about the new school year and look to build on this year's progress."
The district expected attendance rates to decrease from elementary school to high school. This issue is not unique to Callaway County, Hubbuch said. He added that district staff is working to minimize this decrease through the awareness campaign and "ongoing communication and partnership with families."
It was anticipated for FHS to have the lowest attendance overall.
"However, FHS did show an attendance improvement of 8.9 percent, outpacing the district improvement of 6.65 percent," Hubbuch said.
The factor that influenced attendance the most over the past four years has been the lasting impact of the pandemic, Hubbuch said.
Since 2018-19, statewide attendance has decreased by 11 percent.
"The disruption in regular attendance, intermittent quarantines, shifts to virtual learning, and the lack of socialization created resistance to regular attendance for some students," Hubbuch said.
To encourage student attendance throughout the school year, FPS communicated regularly with families about "the importance of regular attendance and how quickly absences can add up and impact their student's education. This communication was done through social media posts and signage on campuses.
Each building in the district had leaderboards that visually showed the proportional attendance for each grade level each month.
The monthly attendance rates and grade-level attendance percentages were also shared each month on social media.
Attendance goals for the 2023-24 school year will be set by the district attendance committee prior to the start of the school year, Hubbuch said. The goal will be set after review of the previous year's data.
The state goal for the upcoming school year is for 90 percent of students to attend school 90 percent of more.
"Fulton will continue to aim for that target while celebrating incremental improvements in that direction," Hubbuch said.