First Day Attendance Increase at Track E Schools 

CEO Brizard praises children and families for getting to school on the first day

August 12, 2011

Chicago Public Schools announced today that first day attendance numbers for Track E schools (Monday, August 8) is 88.1%, up from 86.8% last year. The numbers increased even with the addition of 52 new schools, bringing the total number of Track E schools to 247 with approximately 120,000 students. This represents the highest attendance for Track E since CPS began recording attendance figures using a new tracking system several years ago.


CPS launched an aggressive campaign in July that included grassroots and new media tools to build awareness among parents and students about the first day of Track E schools, which was Monday, August 8. CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard was pleased by the first day numbers and continues to remind families that children must maintain good attendance habits throughout the school year in order to succeed.


"I am excited to see this kind increase in first day attendance as it shows our families and students are engaged in returning to school this year. Getting students to class on the first day is critical to their success in the classroom as it sets the tone for the school year and helps build good attendance habits," said CEO Brizard. "I want to thank every partner we've had in this effort to help boost these numbers and we will continue using every tool at our disposal to make sure that parents, students and communities know when school starts for the next track on September 6th and work to get kids to schools on the first day and every day."


For the past two weeks, CPS engaged in a comprehensive back to school campaign to educate all Chicagoans on the importance of first day and every day attendance. The multi-faceted campaign has included door-to-door visits by Brizard and Mayor Rahm Emanuel to emphasize the start dates of CPS schools. CEO Brizard also participated in a CPS phone bank to parents.


Special Chicago celebrities and sports figures will also help continue the efforts to get kids back to school for Track R through PSAs and robo-calls covering all households. They include Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson, Hip-Hop artist Common, Israel Idonije of the Chicago Bears, Patrick Sharp Opens in a new window icon. of the Chicago Blackhawks, Kerry Wood of the Chicago Cubs, Marco Pappa of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club and Ozzie Guillen and A.J. Pierzynksi of the Chicago White Sox.


Click here to view our most recent PSAs visit the Back to School website.


Mayor Emanuel also issued a Call to Action for City departments and sister agencies, local businesses, faith leaders and community organizations to boost the Chicago Public Schools efforts to have students in school on the first day.


In two weeks, the following was done in targeted Track E, high truant areas:

  • 31,590 phone bank calls have been made to CPS households.
  • 30,600 door hangers were distributed to households.
  • 22,000 flyers have been distributed at El and Bus Stations.
  • 3,500 Back to School posters were posted in public areas such as corporate offices and retail stores.
  • 676,161 pre-recorded robo calls were made to both targeted and Track E households.


The campaign, which continues through the beginning of regular track schools on September 6th, includes the support of corporate sponsors such as Wal-mart Stores Inc., Clear Channel Communications Inc., Target Corp., BMO Harris Bank, Chartwell-Thompson Hospitality, Fleishman-Hillard, Comcast, Discover, Loop Capital, PNC Bank, Bank of America, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Foundation, the Chicago Tribune Foundation and The Museum of Science and Industry.


Also, Chicago Public Schools and Groupon’s G-team partnered on an offer that allowed Chicagoans to purchase school supply kits for CPS low-income students. The Kits for Kidz campaign was available for three days and Chicagoans pledged over $15,000 for over 1,200 kits – more money was raised through this effort with Groupon's G-Team than any other campaign in any other city. These kits were a vital part of helping our students get ready for the first day of school this past Monday.


CPS will continue to work with the faith community and local organizations throughout the city in building awareness and support for first day and every day attendance.


CPS will also continue to place a special emphasis to target the city's areas with the highest truancy rates. These areas are Englewood, Humboldt Park, East Garfield, West Garfield, North Lawndale, Woodlawn, and Austin.


Additionally, CPS will continue to utilize grassroots activities, advertising, and social media strategies, including: door-to-door outreach, robo-calls to households of CPS students, targeted literature drops at CTA stations, bus stations and neighborhood festivals, phone bank calls targeting parents, a CTA ad campaign, text messages and e-mail notifications and Google and Facebook ads.


Since CPS started full implementation of the IMPACT system tracking student attendance, the following represents Track E first day numbers for the following years:

  • 2010-2011 – 86.8%, 192 Track E Schools
  • 2009-2010 – 84%, 132 Track E Schools
  • 2008-2009 – 85.7%, 42 Track E Schools


Anyone wishing to volunteer for a phone bank shift for the back to school campaign for regular track schools can visit the Back to School website or call (773)553-3277.