One big lesson we took from Attendance Matters Month was the importance of supporting data. When you are trying to bring stakeholders on board to support your effort—whether it’s improving attendance or implementing breakfast-in-the-classroom—data-driven arguments are crucial to your success. Each stakeholder group has their own lens through which to view your program, and each one will see a unique set of challenges and opportunities; it’s important for you to understand your audience, anticipate their questions, and listen thoughtfully to their concerns.
A new report recently hit our inbox—Data Matters – Using Chronic Absence to Accelerate Action for Student Success from Attendance Works. This report is a deep-dive into how many schools face high levels of chronic absence, including national and state analyses. If improved attendance is one of your breakfast-in-the-classroom goals, this report could help you make your case.
Data Driven: Breakfast in the Classroom
It’s common to encounter stakeholder resistance when they first encounter the idea of breakfast-in-the-classroom. Different stakeholders have different concerns. Some of the most commonly-cited concerns can be dispelled with peer-to-peer question-and-answer sessions, training, and site visits to observe an existing BIC program. Bringing data to support your positions will help you underscore the effectiveness of breakfast-in-the-classroom each step of the way.
Myth: Breakfast in the classroom will not have enough of an impact on participation to make it worth the trouble.
Fact: BIC is the most effective way to increase participation at the start of the school day, and research shows that children who eat their morning meal at school perform better academically, are on time, have fewer absences, and fewer trips to the school nurse and principal’s office. [Source: Timing is Everything: A Closer Look at School Breakfast Service Times]
Myth: Teachers won’t accept breakfast-in-the-classroom.
Fact: Breakfast in the classroom is great for teachers, who spend hundreds of dollars a year providing food and school supplies to their own students. Teachers also love the results of breakfast-in-the-classroom: data shows eating breakfast at school (closer to class/test-taking time) improves standardized test scores; hungry students are more likely to act out or be tardy or absent. Breakfast-in-the-classroom is also a great resource for teachers. [Source: The NEA Foundation School Breakfast Toolkit]
Myth: Breakfast-in-the-classroom is disruptive and chaotic.
Fact: Principals and administrators turn to breakfast-in-the-classroom to help create calmer, more organized morning routines in their schools; rather than loitering in common areas, students go directly to the classroom where their school day begins with a morning meal and structured socialization. [Source: FRAC’s Breakfast in the Classroom Project Handbook]
Find more data on the benefits of school breakfast and breakfast-in-the-classroom to help you build your case with stakeholders:
- Breakfast in the Classroom Resource Center, School Nutrition Foundation
- School Breakfast Program, FRAC
- Breakfast in the Classroom technical assistance videos, Partners for BIC
- Breakfast in the Classroom fact sheet (PDF)
- Stakeholder stories & testimonials, BeyondBreakfast.org