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According to the website attendanceworks.org an estimated 5 – 7.5 million U.S. students miss nearly a month of school each year. In addition, Absenteeism in the first month of school can predict poor attendance throughout the year. Half the students who miss 2-4 days in September go on to miss nearly a month of school.

There can be lots of reasons for absences, from low-income students dealing with housing or transportation issues beyond their control, to student involvement in gangs or drugs, to single-parent households where there is little time to focus on academic performance or attendance.

Whatever the reason for absences, the research consistently shows that it has a dramatic and cumulative effect on the student’s academic performance and prospects for post-secondary education or employment. In fact, by 6th grade chronic absence from school becomes the leading indicator that a student will drop out of high school.

One of the most effective ways of dealing with absences is to engage students and parents in positive ways and provide mentors for chronically absent students.


Relatrix’ EZVolunteer software can help with student absences in several important ways. First, our latest release includes a new feature for tracking student late arrivals and early departures at school, to help identify students who may be at risk. Second, EZVolunteer can be used to recruit, match and track volunteer mentors working with students who are chronically absent.

Our EZVKiosk module now allows you to setup a separate sign-in (Late Arrival) or sign-out (Early Departure) for students. In addition, we can synchronize your student enrollment at each campus so that students can sign-in or out with either their Student ID or Name and Date-Of-Birth. If you operate at the Elementary School level front office staff can do a quick look-up of the student in the EZVolunteer database and sign-in or out on behalf of the student. Late arrivals get a Tardy Pass to take with them to class. You can also run reports, by school to see which students and how many times in a month, semester or year they arrive late or depart early.


Whether you track students with EZVolunteer or a different attendance system you can identify students with a pattern of absences and then use EZVolunteer to find a mentor with whom to match them. Mentors can make a big difference in reducing absences and improving academic outcomes. With EZVolunteer mentors can sign-in through the EZVKiosk and indicate they are mentoring a student, which then logs the hours spent mentoring that student. Alternatively, mentors can sign-in to their EZVolunteer account and record the hours and which student they are mentoring.

Schools engage parents, community leaders, and business partners to volunteer in and out of the classroom throughout the year. Recruiting these volunteers presents its own challenges – both in terms of finding people willing to serve and matching them with activities in which they are interested.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics school and youth services was the second most active volunteer segment in the US during the 2012 and 2013 school year with over 16.2 million volunteers and more than 800 million hours of volunteer time. So how do you get these volunteers into your schools?

First, let’s examine who volunteers. Thirty percent of volunteers in the BLS study were 35 to 44-years-of-age, and while school volunteerism tapered off with age, seniors volunteered more than 80 hours during the year, compared to a national average of 50 hours.  Among the volunteers with school age children, 44% were moms and 38% were dads. While parents in all educational levels were more likely to volunteer than non-parents, the levels went up with bachelor and post-graduate college education.

Of all volunteers in the BLS report 43% were motivated to seek volunteer opportunities with their school or district on their own, while 40% were recruited by someone in the volunteer organization. This makes outreach to parents, family and community members vital in creating a broad and effective volunteer program.

Looking where volunteers choose to donate their time the BLS report showed that overall the following activities were most popular with volunteers – collecting, preparing and serving food (10.9 percent); fundraising (10.0 percent) and tutoring or teaching (9.8 percent).  Men most often provided general labor or coached, refereed, or supervised sports teams, while women prepared and served food, fund-raised, or tutored students.

Why do people volunteer?  Often parents find time to volunteer in their child’s school to have a first-hand account of what their son or daughter is doing and to get to know the staff. However, according to Joanna Saisan, M.S.W., Melinda Smith, M.A., and Gina Kemp in Volunteering and its Surprising Benefits there are four top reasons why volunteers are motivated to serve:

  • Volunteering connects you to others
  • Volunteering is good for your mind and body
  • Volunteering can advance your career
  • Volunteering brings fun and fulfillment to your life

EZVolunteer helps you reach out to your community to build your district-wide corps of volunteers with eNewsletters on your volunteer and partnership efforts.  You can also send targeted messages to registered volunteers based on their interests (e.g. – coaching or tutoring) and affiliations (e.g. – parents or seniors) to help recruit for specific programs and events.

As an enterprise solution there is no more separate sign-up required for each school where your volunteers will work. EZVolunteer provides a simple online registration process where volunteers choose their schools and interests, and you can screen them in real time before they are added to your list.

The takeaway is that volunteer and partner recruitment is crucial, and like all communications, developing a targeted message to different segments of your community will improve the outcome of your efforts. Make the process of getting involved easy for volunteers and simplify how you manage volunteers from the district and the campus level, and the prospect of beating the average in volunteer numbers and hours goes way up!

To learn more about EZVolunteer visit:
relatrix.com/products/ezvolunteer

To check out the details of the Bureau of Labor Statistics data referenced in this post visit: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/volun.htm

To learn why volunteers engage in volunteering check out http://www.helpguide.org/life/volunteer_opportunities_benefits_volunteering.htm

As you scan down your list of volunteers to determine who to give the biggest shout out, it might be worth noting how much time they really spend on behalf of your schools and students.  While most don’t do it for the recognition, there are some good reasons why you should keep track of volunteer hours.

Reason#1:  Time Is Money

When your school and district can demonstrate on a grant application how many community members are engaged in your schools the chances of your grant award only goes up.  When you can actually provide quantitative data on volunteer hours the odds improve even more.  In fact, more-and-more socially-minded, non-profit organizations require engagement metrics either as part of the application or as part of the reporting of outcomes.  Make your application stand out with verifiable details like growth in volunteer numbers and hours, year-over-year and school-by-school.

Reason#2:  Engagement Equals Student Success

Because the research shows that student outcomes improve when parents actively participate in their children’s education, family engagement is becoming a requirement in a growing number of schools.  Making sure that family and community members are matched to useful in-class or office volunteer opportunities and that you record their hours helps quantify that engagement when looking at end-of-term results.

Reason#3:  Community Partners Seek ROI

Collaboration between your school or district and local partners highlights the business or organization that is working with your students. Often the partner is contributing employee time, as well as other material and supplies.  Tracking all those hours and their value, and then sharing that back with those organizations shows your commitment and can help build an even stronger, sustainable partnership.

Reason#4:  What About House Bill 5?

If you work for a Texas school district, someone in your central office has started pouring over the new education statutes from the recent Texas legislative session.  As part of those statutes in House Bill 5 is a requirement to begin reporting at the district and campus level on ‘community and student engagement’, assign a rating and report the rating to TEA.

While we found no explicit requirement for quantitative data on volunteer numbers and time, what better way to create a metric that addresses accountability, promotes volunteerism, and leans toward legislative intent in measuring engagement in your schools.

In other states there may not be specific legislation yet that requires you to track volunteer hours.  However, there is a growing emphasis by state K-12 agencies and legislatures to quantify and report on community involvement.  We have spoken to districts in several different regions where similar bills are on the legislative agenda.

To learn more about Relatrix and how our EZVolunteer and EZPartner products can help support your efforts to recruit volunteers and partners, as well as record and report hours by campus, visit our website to Contact Us or call our offices at 800.570.6234 ext. 1.