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Ohio takes the pledge to Stay in the Game!

State and local officials, and members of Stay in the Game! Attendance Network highlighted commitment to improving school attendance

Stay in the Game Foundation article

Strong school attendance takes a team.

The state of Ohio and the Stay in the Game! Attendance Network are taking another step in improving school attendance across the state.

On Oct. 27, the Stay in the Game! Attendance Network, along with Lt. Governor Jon Husted, Supreme Court of Ohio Chief Justice Sharon Kennedy, Interim Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Chris Woolard, CEO of Haslam Sports Group Dee Haslam and other partners highlighted Ohio's commitment to improving school attendance statewide at the Ohio Takes the Pledge to Stay in the Game! event at Columbus City Preparatory School for Girls.

"Together, we're showing why school attendance is important for every student and how Ohio's commitment to supporting these efforts reaches beyond the school walls," Woolard said. "We must examine barriers to attendance, strengthen outreach, adjust practices to prevent chronic absence and provide extra support when necessary so we can ensure students are present and ready to learn each day."

During the event, members of the Ohio Attendance Taskforce announced recommendations to improve school attendance and reduce chronic absence. These recommendations are intended to help schools and districts across Ohio implement effective prevention and early intervention strategies to improve attendance and decrease chronic absenteeism. They recommended five overarching ideas that include the following:

  1. Attendance is a Team Sport: Working together, build awareness and galvanize statewide support for role of attendance to student success in academics, careers and life including expanding the Stay in the Game! Attendance Network to a comprehensive statewide messaging campaign for every district to leverage. 
  2. Strengthen the Team: Foster engagement, build trust and belonging, and address local challenges with students, families and educators. 
  3. Create a Rewarding and Relevant Team Experience: Cultivate engaging and relevant learning environments so students want to attend at all Ohio schools.
  4. Support the Players and Coaches: Adjust systems and resources to support schools and districts in their attendance work. 
  5. Adjust the Playbook: Work with policymakers to inform comprehensive policy changes to support student attendance.

Check out photos from the Ohio Takes the Pledge to Stay in the Game! event at Columbus Preparatory School for Girls on Friday, Oct. 27.

"Too many of our kids are chronically absent, and they are missing out on more than just reading and math, but also other support services and the life and job skills that come with attending school," Husted said. "The recommendations the taskforce has put forth will help address the underlying cause of absenteeism so that Ohio students are prepared to succeed in school and life."

The state of Ohio defines chronic absence as a student missing 10 percent or more of school hours. In the 2022-2023 school year, Ohio's chronic absence rate was 26.8 percent, meaning more than 418,000 students in the state were chronically absent. This number is something Ohio officials, Stay in the Game! and its partners have taken notice of and why the commitment to improving attendance statewide has become a focus.

Students who attend school regularly are 6.7 times more likely to read on grade level by third grade and nine times more likely to graduate high school on time. Every person can play a role in improving attendance and Ohio is focused on working together as a state and community to increase the number of students going to school every day.

Husted, Kennedy, Haslam, Woolard and others signed the Stay in the Game! attendance pledge on stage Friday to demonstrate their commitment to improving school attendance statewide. They were followed by the students in attendance who came up on stage to also sign the pledge to show their continued commitment to attending school. To join the Stay in the Game! Attendance Network's and its partners efforts, you can also take the pledge.

The Stay in the Game! Attendance Network was launched in 2019 by the Cleveland Browns Foundation, Ohio Department of Education and Workforce and Harvard's Proving Ground. The Network currently represents more than 40 districts and 250,000 students.

Districts in the Stay in the Game! Attendance Network had lower rates of chronic absence for the 2022-23 school year compared to the statewide rates. For the 2022-23 school year, Ohio saw a decrease of chronic absenteeism of 3.4 percent compared to 2021-22. There was also a 5.2 percent decrease in chronic absenteeism with seven of the 17 districts significantly outperforming the state, lowering chronic absenteeism between 8.5-10.9 percent.

Consistent school attendance has a broad spectrum of benefits, including engaged learning, improved mental health and positive impacts on families and communities. When all those involved – from schools, families, students and communities – come together, they can help keep kids in the game for future success.

"We are committed to creating opportunities for our youth so that they can reach their full potential and getting to school every day and staying engaged sets the foundation for their success and the future of our state," Haslam said.

The event concluded with the opening of the sixth Crew and US Soccer Mini-Pitch with the support of Nationwide and, which included a ceremonial first kick. It's the Club's sixth installation in the past five years.

Students from the Columbus City Preparatory School for Girls soccer team participated in on-pitch activities with Crew 2 players, and members of the pep squad and band performed for those in attendance.

The project is part of the Crew's ongoing efforts to advance education and youth soccer in Columbus. It extends beyond Columbus, as the Browns have also opened 14 football fields as part of an effort to engage students through sports. Nine of the football fields have been in Stay in the Game! districts in the Northeast Ohio area.

"Through the Stay in the Game! Attendance Network and our installation of youth soccer and football fields in Ohio, we want to help provide students and districts access to the resources they need so they can excel in the classroom and beyond," Haslam said.

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