Stanislaus COE knows that Every Day Counts
A countywide attendance campaign pays for itself
group of kids pose together on a school bus
The research is clear — students who attend school regularly have been shown to achieve academically at higher levels than students who do not have regular attendance. Equally important, chronic absence is associated with lower levels of educational engagement, social-emotional development and executive functioning, according to a recent CSBA brief on the topic of chronic absenteeism. California and the nation, however, have a serious chronic absenteeism problem (defined as missing 10 percent or more of school days).

At the state level, 2022–23 data showed 24.3 percent of students chronically absent, an improvement from 30 percent in 2021–22, but still an alarming figure that needs to be reduced. Local educational agencies around the state are implementing attendance campaigns and supports to address the problem and bring students back to school. In Stanislaus County, the county office of education spearheaded a messaging campaign that is improving attendance throughout its 25 school districts.

“A positive and vibrant school ennvironment, driven by enagaged students, motivated teachers and involved parents, fosters a culture of learning and achievement.”
Judy Boring, director of communications, Stanislaus COE

The Stanislaus County Office of Education rolled out the “Every Day Counts” attendance campaign for the 2023–24 school year. The campaign includes radio and cable TV spots, social media, billboards, posters in school offices and hallways, vinyl banners and window clings to place on windows and vehicles. To add extra motivation for high school students, the COE partnered with Modesto Toyota to give away a new car to a graduating senior. Each month that a student has perfect attendance, they are entered into the end-of-year drawing for a vehicle.

“The Every Day Counts — Attendance Matters campaign is not just about individual students; it has a broader impact on entire school communities,” said Judy Boring, Stanislaus COE director of communications. “When attendance rates improve, schools can better allocate resources, invest in facilities and provide more robust support services for students. A positive and vibrant school environment, driven by engaged students, motivated teachers and involved parents, fosters a culture of learning and achievement.”

Consistent messaging through various media and in-school placements reinforced key points:

  • When students miss school, they miss access to resources and support services
  • If students aren’t in school, they miss out on learning
  • If they don’t learn, they won’t graduate
  • If they don’t graduate, their chances for success are limited
Creation, implementation and goals
All 25 school districts in Stanislaus County reported that overall daily attendance in the 2022–23 school year was below 95 percent. The attendance campaign was created to increase student attendance in every district by 0.5-1 percent in the 2023–24 year by education students, parents/guardians, staff and the community about attendance issues and the importance of coming to school every day.
every day counts - Attendance Matters campaign poster

The first step in even approaching a countywide campaign like this is to secure funding, Boring said — and in this case, money talks. The cost of the full campaign — including TV and radio commercials, school banners and posters, attendance certificates, billboards and media buys — was $261,000. Boring and her team more than justified the expense by calculating that if the campaign hit its goal of improving district attendance by 1 percent throughout the county, that would equal $12 million in average daily attendance funds.

The requirements set by the COE to implement the campaign included participation from every district, buy in from district leaders and a commitment to promoting the campaign. Once those elements were in place, the COE hired a design firm to concept a logo and create related commercials, radio ads and billboards.

The COE provided support to districts by providing attendance campaign resources and materials for Back to School Nights, monthly parent and staff letters, monthly social media graphics and captions, vinyl school banners, posters and attendance certificates. The COE also offered occasional Zoom office hours for district contacts should they have questions or need extra support.

The four commercials ranged from the practical, with messaging on how important school is to students’ futures, to the hilarious — as in the spot asking how to keep children safe from “snapping turtles” while showing a warning sign, followed by the voiceover, “The first is making sure they know how to read!” Each radio and TV commercial ends with the tagline: “Brought to you by the Stanislaus County Office of Education and all 25 school districts.”

Coverage across the community was widespread. “You’d have to be living under a rock in Stanislaus County to not know we are running an attendance campaign,” Boring said.

Check out the different elements of the campaign at