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August 29, 2013 at 07:45 AM EDT
Ad Council and U.S. Army Launch "Absences Add Up" Campaign to Boost School Attendance and Combat Chronic Absenteeism
New Text2Track SMS program helps parents chart the impact of their children's absences on academic success and high school graduation

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- To coincide with the start of a new school year and Attendance Awareness Month, the Ad Council and U.S. Army are releasing a series of new public service advertisements (PSAs) addressing the importance of regular school attendance in middle school in order for students to stay on course to graduate high school. Created pro bono by Publicis Kaplan Thaler, the PSAs illustrate the fact that every absence, in any grade, excused or not, can negatively impact a child's academic achievement and put their high school graduation at risk. To help parents keep track, two tools are being offered on the campaign website: a "Text2Track" mobile SMS program and a redesigned Attendance Calculator.

To view the multimedia assets associated with this release, please click: http://www.multivu.com/mnr/63028-ad-council-boost-attendance-absences-add-up

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130829/MM69303 )

Chronic absenteeism, missing 10% (just 18 days) or more of school for any reason, is a critical warning sign that a student will fall behind and risk not graduating high school. Nationwide, as many as 7.5 million students miss nearly a month of school every year. That's 135 million days of lost time in the classroom. In some cities, as many as one in four students are missing that much school.

All parents want their children to succeed, but according to an Ad Council survey conducted in March 2012, they often have misconceptions about the importance of attendance.  They believe:

  • Attendance really only matters in high school.
  • Excused absences won't hurt a child's academic performance. 
  • Consecutive absences can make a child fall behind academically but one or two here and there will not make a difference.

The new TV, radio, print, outdoor and digital PSAs are designed to specifically target parents of middle school children and drive home the message that absences add up. Whether a child is missing school for a family vacation, to take care of younger siblings or just to sleep in, the results are the same and academic consequences can be dire. In "Here," audiences see that if children aren't present in class, chances are they won't be present come graduation day.

"Oftentimes in public service advertising we are simply trying to make you aware of an issue. It's rare that we can give people information that can shape the course of their lives. This is a case where by introducing parents to the fact that if their kids miss 18 days of school or more in any grade, they may not graduate high school. A powerful piece of information we tried to dramatize," said Rob Feakins, Publicis Kaplan Thaler Chief Creative Officer/President.

All PSAs direct to a new campaign website, BoostAttendance.org, where parents can sign up for the Text2Track SMS program, chart the impact of their children's absences using the redesigned Attendance Calculator and find general information about how to keep their kids in school. Those who sign up for Text2Track will receive one text per week asking how many days of school their child missed that week. At the end of every month, Boost Attendance will reply with a sum of the days missed and the impact those absences could have on their child's math and reading scores and likelihood of high school graduation. Parents can also use the redesigned Attendance Calculator, courtesy of campaign partner Get Schooled, to visualize the correlation between their child's attendance and academic achievement based on the number of days of school missed. The site will also be available in Spanish.

"With this campaign, our main goal is to help parents understand that every absence in any grade can have an impact on academic achievement," said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. "Absences add up, which is why we're offering tools to help parents keep track. Our hope is that extra vigilance will equal better attendance and higher graduation rates."

The Ad Council is also partnering with Mayor Bloomberg's Interagency Task Force on Truancy, Chronic Absenteeism and School Engagement to localize the new TV and radio PSAs for the New York City market. The localized PSAs will drive to a special URL, BoostAttendance.org/NYC, where parents will be able to find borough-specific resources to address the problems keeping their children out of school – asthma, mental illness, bullying, housing or immigration issues and more.

Since its launch in 2000, the Army and Ad Council's High School Dropout Prevention campaign has received over $680 million in donated media across television, radio, outdoor, print and digital.

The Ad Council is distributing the new PSAs to its network of 33,000 media outlets nationwide. Per the Ad Council's model, all of the PSAs will air in advertising time that is donated by the media.

Ad Council survey results are from a March 2012 qualitative sample of parents of students in sixth through tenth grades who have high absentee rates (more than ten per year) in Dallas, Chicago and Los Angeles.

For more information about the campaign visit www.BoostAttendance.org or follow the campaign at facebook.com/BoostAttendance and Twitter @BoostAttendance.

U.S. Army
Education is a top-priority public service issue for the U.S. Army. In 2000, they partnered with the Ad Council to start "Operation Graduation." This was a national campaign to motivate and encourage students to graduate high school. In 2006, the Ad Council and the U.S. Army launched BoostUp, a new approach to this dropout prevention campaign. BoostUp targets adults that are interested in their community or in education, as well as parents and peers of at-risk students and connects them to opportunities to provide students with the support they need to stay in school and graduate. To find out more about the US Army go to www.goarmy.com.

Ad Council
The Ad Council is a non-profit organization with a rich history of marshalling volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to deliver critical messages to the American public. Having produced literally thousands of PSA campaigns addressing the most pressing social issues of the day, the Ad Council has effected, and continues to effect, tremendous positive change by raising awareness, inspiring action, and saving lives. To learn more about the Ad Council and its campaigns, visit www.adcouncil.org. You can also visit http://www.facebook.com/adcouncil or follow the Ad Council on Twitter @AdCouncil.

Publicis Kaplan Thaler
Publicis Kaplan Thaler is a fully integrated advertising agency with digital, social and technology at its core. With over 650 employees, it is the flagship of Publicis Worldwide in the USA, the North American operating unit of Publicis Worldwide, the largest global agency network within Publicis Groupe. The Agency's blue-chip client roster includes: Procter & Gamble, CITI, Nestle, Merck, Pfizer, TriHonda, Wendy's, L'Oreal, AFLAC, and NAPA Auto Parts, among others. To learn more about Publicis Kaplan Thaler, follow us @PKTtweets, find us on Facebook (PublicisKaplanThaler), or visit pkt.com.

SOURCE The Ad Council

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