Attendance, Behavior and Courses: Why the ABCs Matter

By Rodney Robinson, Treehouse Education Services Regional Manager

In our role of supporting youth in foster care as they set goals and complete high school, we often are asked: “Why do the ABCs (attendance, behavior and courses) matter?”

While it seems simple to make a correlation between regular school attendance, positive behavior and passing courses to the probability of graduating from high school, it is most important to stay aware of what any deficit in these factors tell us about the progress of youth toward graduating. Evaluation conducted by the University of Minnesota through their evidence-based Check and Connect program model proves that tracking the deficits in the ABCs provide early warning indicators.

At Treehouse, we also believe these indicators provide a better picture of how we can support the positive skills needed to help youth in foster care launch successfully into adulthood. We use attendance as a launching point into the discussion on perseverance and intrinsic motivation. A deeper understanding of what leads a student to having behavior issues helps identify the opportunity to strengthen their skills in interpersonal communication, conflict resolution and ability to stay mindful in the moment. Our consistent evaluation of a student’s course progression leads to guiding youth in self-advocating for the resources they need to be successful, action planning and time management.

As our youth are expected to age out of foster care between the ages of 18 and 21, these skills are essential for “adulting.” Through our Graduation Success program, our staff have been able to couple these essential skills with relationship building and continuous monitoring of the ABCs. They play a key role in celebrating with our youth when they achieve their goals, while also identifying solutions when they are at risk of not achieving their goals.

Along with giving us the ability to introduce high-level life skills through the lens of education, the ABCs serve as another critical building block in our youth’s success. By showing our dedication to the youth’s well-being and our willingness to stick with them and hold them accountable for both their successes and missteps, we demonstrate that we are committed to the youth’s continuous improvement.

Sometimes, the most powerful step to success is having true and authentic support—someone showing faith that you can achieve your goals, especially when you might not believe in yourself.

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About the Author

Rodney is working hard to introduce Treehouse to new communities with the expansion project for Graduation Success and our statewide advocacy program. Through community partnerships, outreach and a concentration on building natural supports for youth involved in the foster care system, Rodney is excited to be a part of the systematic change of how we support youth in our local communities.

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