WASHINGTON, D.C. /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 addressing the importance of regular school attendance in middle school in order for students to stay on course to graduate high school.

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.

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.

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.

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.

More information can be found by clicking on this link.