Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

May 31st, 2017

Teaching Attendance 2.0: everyday activities to reduce chronic absence

Teachers know first-hand that too many absences can disrupt learning, not just for the absent student but for the entire classroom. While teachers play a key role in improving attendance, we know that everyone in the school building— from the principal to the front office to the cafeteria—has a role in helping to improve attendance.

Missing as little as two days a month (or 10% of the school year) significantly impacts a student’s ability to achieve in school. Research  shows that students who miss this many days struggle to learn to read by the third grade, begin failing courses in middle school and drop out of high school. Chronic absence is often overlooked because educators in many districts only examine truancy (unexcused absences) and average daily attendance (how many students show up every day).

In collaboration with our partners American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association  and Parent Teacher Home Visits, we’ve updated our popular Teaching Attendance toolkit for educators. Teaching Attendance 2.0 shows that when schools and communities work together to provide a comprehensive, tiered system of supports to students and families—that address the reasons for student absences—they can reduce chronic absence.

Making a difference to a student doesn’t necessarily require extra work. Rather, it involves strategically infusing attendance and the power of positive relationships into everyday interactions with students and families.

We’ve developed four steps, or strategies for educators to use to improve attendance for all students. The four strategies are:

  • Create a welcoming environment that engages students and families
  • Engage families at parent-teacher or student-led conferences
  • Use data to ensure early intervention and secure needed supports
  • Advocate for a school-wide approach

The toolkit is filled with free, downloadable resources for everyone who understands that helping students get to school every day enhances the ability of teachers to teach more effectively.

Click here to go to the Teaching Attendance Toolkit and learn more about what you can do to improve attendance.

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Attendance Works has updated its popular toolkit for teachers! Teaching Attendance 2.0 has new research-based messages, resources and strategies for helping educators reduce chronic absence by integrating attention to attendance into everyday activities. Download the toolkit summary and find the complete toolkit on the Attendance Works website:

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December 21st, 2016

New Study: Strong Attendance Improves Reading Literacy

Researchers from Arizona State University wanted to find out which factors might negatively impact a student’s ability to read by third grade. The answer for students in Arizona was clear: good attendance makes a real difference.screen-shot-2016-12-14-at-8-38-20-am

The research is associated with Read On Arizona, a statewide public and private partnership aimed at boosting language and literacy skills for children from birth through age eight. The team used data from a variety of sources and an average chronic absent rate of 10 percent for schools statewide. The study found that for a 1 percent increase in third grade attendance rates, there is an average increase of 1.5 percent of students passing the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) third grade reading test at the school-level in 2013-2014.

On the other hand, for a 1 percent increase in chronic absenteeism (i.e. the percentage of students who miss 18 or more days in a given school year), there is an average decrease of 0.3 percent of students passing third grade AIMS reading, they found.

The researchers wrote about their analysis in a blog post for the Brookings Institution. While the data in this study are specific to Arizona, many of the challenges faced by Arizona are similar in states across the country. For example, in 2015, 38 percent of students in fourth grade fell below basic reading levels on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, placing the state only 6 percent below the national average, they wrote in the blog.

“Policymakers and practitioners are often faced with a variety of choices when it comes to ensuring that students reach their full academic potential,” the researchers wrote. “Although this seems intuitive, our analysis suggests that for those looking to improve student learning, particularly as it relates to literacy, increasing attendance rates may be critical first step.”

Find the full blog post here.

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November 7th, 2016

Let Teens Sleep in the Morning to Improve Attendance

It’s a true story in many families: the elementary child who happily agrees to turn out the lights at 8:00 pm gets to bed at 11:00 pm or later by middle and high school. Why is that so many teenagers stay up late and have trouble getting to school on time? Start School Later, a national nonprofit, believes the key to ensuring students get enough sleep so they can attend school every day−and stay healthy and safe−is to focus on when the morning school bell rings.start-school-later-md-teens

Since the 1970s and 80s, middle and high schools shifted their start times to begin classes earlier than elementary schools. Today the average morning bell time for middle and high schools is 8:03 am, and many start as early as 7:00 am. This leaves many students, and especially those who have to travel an hour or more to reach campus, bleary eyed when they rise from bed at 6:30-7:00 am to get to school on time.

Beyond making it challenging to get to school every day, teens who don’t get enough sleep are set up to be at risk for a variety of health issues including obesity, diabetes, depression and anxiety. And research shows that drowsy students who lack adequate sleep are more often chronically absent and tardy at school, and are in more automobile crashes.

Are teens just being willful, as some might believe? Studies also show that as children mature their sleep and wake patterns shift to later hours. With this in mind, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 2014 issued a brief urging high schools and middle schools to aim for start times that allow students the chance to get an optimal 8.5–9.5 hours of sleep a night.

As a mother of three, Terra Ziporyn Snider says she “lived and breathed this issue on both a personal and professional front for years” as she worked to change the 7:17 a.m. high school start times in her school system. The local school board was not able to make the change. She and Maribel Cabrera Ibrahim realized that a multifaceted approach was the only one that was going to work. The two women teamed up and created Start School Later.

Moving school start times affects a community’s entire day, from start times for after school activities or student jobs, to when parents get to work in the morning. The biggest hurdle in most communities is related to school bus routes. Most districts have a limited number of buses, which are shared among the entire student population.

Yet a shift in school start times has been picking up steam. Already districts in 44 states have moved to later start times for middle and high school students. The results have been swift: When schools have delayed the start of the school day, communities have seen reduced tardiness, as well as improved attendance, graduation rates and standardized test scores, studies show.

The call for a later school start time for teens is supported by a number of health organizations. In addition to AAP, the American Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a host of other national and regional groups support later morning school start times for teens.

Find out more at the Start School Later website:

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