Archive for the ‘Elementary’ Category

October 28th, 2016

CA’s AG Finds 7.3% of Elementary Students Chronically Absence

California Attorney General Kamala Harris has released a new report showing that 7.3 percent of elementary students in California missed 10 percent of the school year in 2015-16. The report —which draws from a sample of almost 500,000 students from nearly 200 districts—also describes significant progress being made as districts take action to improve attendance. screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-12-06-12-pm

In School + On Track 2016 is California’s fourth annual report on chronic absence, and pulls from data over the past four years beginning with the 2012-13 school year. The numbers paint a portrait of a state that still faces an attendance crisis, with an estimated 210,000 students in kindergarten though 5th grade missing almost one full month of school. Chronic absenteeism is most prevalent among African American, low-income, special education and highly mobile students such as homeless and foster youth.

The data also illustrate that early attendance patterns can affect a child’s academic achievement. For example, 75 percent of students who were chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade failed to meet California’s state standards in math and English language arts in the 3rd grade.

“Chronically absent children are far more likely to drop out of high school and enter the criminal justice system,” Harris said. “This is a solvable problem: with better data, monitoring, and communication with parents, we can continue to make significant strides towards ensuring students are in school and on track to meet their full potential.”

In School + on Track cites a number of steps taken in Calfornia to improve chronic absenteeism, such as:

  • Ninety-nine percent of districts surveyed have, or plan to, put in place policies and programs designed to improve attendance this year.
  • Forty-seven percent of districts (up from 18 percent in 2014) included chronic absence data in their Local Control Accountability Plans, which outline how districts will improve student outcomes.
  • Eighty-five percent (up from 12 percent in the 2013) of districts reported that they track attendance over time. This step allows teachers and administrators to find the students who are missing too many days, and to craft interventions to help overcome barriers to being in school every day.
  • Discipline policies are changing: 34 percent of districts surveyed said they have changed their attendance policies to reduce suspensions.

School suspensions also increased the state’s attendance crisis, the report notes. Suspensions have an oversized impact on boys, low-income students and children with special needs. The report also finds that while African America students make up just 5 percent of the elementary school population, they represent 22 percent of all suspensions.

The report includes a description of recent changes in collecting and tracking student attendance in California policy as well as new chronic absence reporting requirements in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

New Policy Brief for California

Attendance Works has developed a policy brief to help district decision-makers in California think about how they might collect and use chronic absence data. The brief describes how districts can use their Student Information Systems (SIS) to support this work. It lays out steps districts can take to maximize the opportunities provided by the CALPADS new attendance data collection for 2016-17 school year, and the new reporting requirements in the ESSA.

Download the full Brief: Making Data Work in California: Leveraging Your District’s Data and Student Information System (SIS) to Monitor and Address Chronic Absence

Data on missed days and information on how to help families interpret the data can be included on student report cards. Click here to find sample report cards with chronic absence data.

Click here to find In School + on Track 2016, and the reports from 2015, 2014 and 2013.

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October 24th, 2016

New Head Start Standards Require Attention to Chronic Absence

High quality preschool programs prepare children to enter kindergarten with school readiness skills, and are an ideal time to instill strong attendance habits in children and families. The recently released Head Start Performance Standards include a new provision that requires Head Start programs to address chronic absence.

The new provisions will move Head Start programs beyond treating attendance simply as a matter of compliance to using data to identify when absences are undercutting a child’s opportunity to learn. The new standards introduce the term chronic absence, or missing 10 percent or more of the school year for any reason. This information can help Head Start staff recognize and address cumulative absences spread over time that may have gone unnoticed in the past.

The requirements make it clear that agencies must begin to track children’s individual attendance, engage parents in understanding the relationship between attendance and success in school, and develop local strategies that encourage positive attendance habits from the outset of schooling. The Attendance Works’ toolkit,  Early and Often: Showing Up in Preschool Matters provides a wealth of strategy suggestions, downloadable materials and research to help Head Start programs implement these concepts.

Collecting, analyzing and using data to target action is central to every successful chronic absence strategy. To expand access to such data, Attendance Works is developing an excel-based Preschool Attendance Tracking Tool (PATT) and encouraging major Head Start data providers to integrate chronic absence reports included in the PATT directly into their data systems.

COPA, a technology provider for Head Start programs, has been the fastest to respond and has already integrated chronic absence reports into its system. COPA report 241 compiles the data necessary to track chronic absence, and report 241 S provides statistical analysis that is required by Head Start and recommended in the PATT. The two reports are connected so agencies can identify how many and which children are moderately chronically absent (absent 10 to 19 percent of the time) or severely chronically (absent more than 20 percent) by classroom and site.

Child Plus, another technology provider for Head Start programs, has indicated it will create an opportunity at its annual conference October 24-27 for its users to vote, by applause, on whether Child Plus should add in new chronic absence data into its regular reports.

In January 2017, Attendance Works will release our Preschool Attendance Tracking Tool (PATT) along with a manual describing how to use it in conjunction with any data management software. If you are interested in registering for access to the tool once the PATT is available, please email

We applaud the new regulations and congratulate the Office of Head Start for its thoughtful attention to chronic absence. “These standards recognize that helping young children and their families develop the habit of daily attendance and overcome barriers to getting to class lays a strong foundation for student achievement. The focus of the new standards on both individual student attendance and family engagement improves the odds that children will start kindergarten with attendance habits that will serve them well throughout their education,” said Hedy Chang, Attendance Works executive director.

Please email if you would like to register for access to the Preschool Attendance Tracking Tool (PATT) tool once it is available.

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September 28th, 2016

NCFL Boosts Attendance, Family Bonds and Literacy in SW Detroit

Throughout the country students who miss the most school often come from our more vulnerable populations: English Language learners, children with disabilities and students eligible for free or reduced-price meals. screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-10-06-47-amIt can be tough to address the barriers families with these challenges face when trying to get their children to be in school every day. The National Center for Families Learning (NCFL)’s family literacy model has seen success in bringing together families to build relationships that lead to improved attendance while boosting reading and writing skills.

In southwest Detroit the NCFL’s Family Literacy program is doing just that as part of a Social Innovation Fund project with partners Southwest Counseling Solutions and United Way for Southeastern Michigan. Detroit leads the nation with almost 58 percent of students chronically absent in 2013-2014. Today the increased connection to school and community experienced by families participating in the program has had a positive impact on student attendance. For the 66 children participating in the Southwest Detroit Family Literacy Program, students attended 369 more days of school than comparison children. This comes to more than two additional weeks of instruction over their comparison peers. When parents participated in the program, their children had a higher rate of attendance
(96.89 percent) than comparison children whose families were not involved (92.63 percent).

The Southwest Detroit NCFL program involves mostly Hispanic, low income, English language learner families with children. The model is a family-centered approach to education with four components: Adult Education, Child Education, Parent Time and Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time®. In the Parent Time classes, family members learn parenting skills, increase their understanding of child development, and support each other in their growth as parents. NCFL’s two-generation approach strengthens the bonds between parents and their children to help those who are most at risk of failing economically, emotionally, and socially.

Detroit parent Brenda Cienfuegos says her participation in the NCFL program has helped her daughters feel more comfortable in school. “My oldest daughter Emily had been crying for the past two years because she didn’t want to go to school and I had a hard time taking her to school every day. When I started the program she changed completely. Emily felt safe and she was content knowing that I was at school. This was as reassuring to her as it was to me,” Cienfuegos says.

“It might sound wrong to say it, but it was through this program that I learned more about my daughters. [During] parent time in the classroom I learned certain topics that lead me to understand my daughters better. … I was able to apply what I had learned to help them instead of reprimanding them. This is why I feel that our relation grew stronger,” Cienfuegos adds.

In Detroit the programs are held in classrooms in four public elementary schools. Each day, parents attend classes on site, learning English using a vocabulary that corresponds to the subjects the students are learning in school. For example, parents might learn about cause and effect so they are able to talk with their children about their schoolwork. Parents also spend 30 minutes each day in their child’s classroom, interacting with their kids and engaging in classroom activities.

The final piece of the Detroit program, Family Service learning, brings parents and children together to develop a service project to benefit their community. Families begin by looking around their community to see where there is a gap. With their children’s input, the family investigates what solutions could help, and they all develop a plan. Project development involves computer skills, research, and writing and reading skills, all which improve literacy.

One Detroit family noticed the number of homeless people living on the streets, developed a plan to sew blankets and collect cloths to donate, and finally spent a day preparing food at a local homeless shelter. As families complete projects they become connected to resources in their community, and to leaders in their community, and they become leaders in their school and other groups they have joined.

During the parent education classes, there is a lot of discussion about the importance of attending school every day, There are times when a parent might miss a day or two and they feel uncomfortable coming back, and they often miss another day and fall farther behind. Program leaders help parents understand that the children might have those same sorts of feelings when they miss school, and nudge them to see how much learning they miss when they aren’t in class.

NCFL’s model has found success with lower income families throughout the U.S., including Native American, African American and white families.

Since 1989, NCFL has helped more than two million families make educational and economic progress by continuously developing, implementing, and documenting innovative and promising two-generation practices, networks, and learning tools. To learn more, visit NCFL’s website or contact Sharon Darling at

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