Attendance Works News

June 29th, 2016

Data Tools to Drive Action

Too often, parents, students and sometimes teachers don’t realize how quickly absences, excused as well as unexcused, can add up to academic trouble. At the same time principals, district leaders and community members often don’t know if chronic absence is a significant problem in local schools.

Research shows that missing as little as 2-3 days every month is considered chronic absence, and can translate into third graders unable to master reading, sixth graders failing courses and ultimately, teens dropping out of high school. Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 10.18.04 PM

We’ve found that the best way to identify students with poor attendance is to calculate the data that schools are already collecting. Analyzing local attendance data can help determine chronic absence levels, and show patterns across students and schools. This is a good first step towards designing strategies to help students get to class every day possible.

Analyzing district-level data also can highlight schools that are making good progress. What’s happening in these schools that serve similar populations of students, but are achieving better-than-average results? By looking into what works in these schools, you can identify effective practices that others could replicate.

We’ve partnered with Applied Survey Research and developed some tools to simplify the process. Please share with your districts, schools and communities. The self-calculating spreadsheets for school districts are called the District Attendance Tracking Tools (DATTs). These free tools are especially effective for smaller districts with more limited data capacity.

The companion tools are the School Attendance Tracking Tools (SATTs), which provide school-level analysis down to the individual student level.

The release of national chronic absence data from the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) shows chronic absence data for most schools in every district in the country. The heat map (also on this page) developed by DOE for its web based data story provides a quick view of the issue in each district.  The DATTs and SATTs can facilitate a deeper analysis of DOE’s Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) for your district or school.

  • Click here to find our more about OCR’s national chronic absence data, including a link to Attendance Works’ guide to help filter the CRDC data for your state.
  • We looked at how state and local innovators are already using chronic absence analyses to galvanize action in our May 17, 2016 webinar. If you missed Using Data to Drive Action: Portraits of Chronic Absence, you can find the webinar recording and presentation slides here.

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June 28th, 2016

Attendance, Early Reading Success Featured in 2017 All-America City Awards

The National Civic League (NCL) and The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading are seeking applications for the 2017 All-America City Awards showing efforts to bring about measurable progress for low-income children on the key drivers of early reading success. Projects that demonstrate attendance, school readiness, summer learning and increasing the number of students reading at grade level are especially welcome.

NCL announced the 2017 award focus at a multi-day conference in Denver at which 10 cities received the 2016 award. Last year the awards sought projects aimed at improving health and educational success. More than 550 communities have won the All-America City Award since the program was launched in 1949. Click here to find the 2016 Award winners.

“These All-America cities are doing amazing work to engage their communities in helping to assure the well-being of young people,” said Doug Linkhart, President of the National Civic League. “We’re constantly impressed by their dedication in bringing together groups and individuals to address critical issues such as health and educational success. While there are certainly many other successful community engagement efforts to improve opportunities for young people, All-America City winners clearly rise to the top.”

Here is a schedule for the Application Process:

  • September 1, 2016 — Submit Letter of Intent to Apply
  • Filing a letter of intent will enable you to participate in a series of monthly webinars beginning this fall offered by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. The webinars are designed to support communities through the application and planning process, and will help communities develop plans for accelerating progress and reaching bigger outcomes on grade-level reading by 2020.
  • January 31, 2017 — Submit Application
  • Semi-finalists will be identified using a peer review process involving all applicants. Award-winners will be named at the NCL’s Annual Conference on June 14-17, 2017.
  • June 14-17, 2017 — All-America City Award Event

The All-America City Award event will take place in Denver, Colorado. The event is a multi-day celebration that includes peer-learning workshops, presentations from each finalist, panel discussions, and cultural showcases.

Click here for more information about the 2017 All-America City Award application.

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June 22nd, 2016

Several “Firsts” Bring National Attention to Chronic Absence

The second week in June was a watershed for chronic absenteeism with a flurry of activity on the national level that put the issue front and center in education circles. Group ESED

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) on June 7 released the first set of national data on chronic absence, shining a spotlight on the size and scope of the issue. Hundreds of media outlets published articles about the data release, which found that 6.5 million students (13%) missed 15 or more days of school during the 2013-14 academic year. A separate data story, Chronic Absenteeism in the Nation’s Schools, released by DOE Secretary John King includes interactive charts and a national heat map of the data.

On June 9th and 10th, DOE held the Every Student, Every Day National Conference: Eliminating Chronic Absenteeism by Implementing and Strengthening Cross-Sector Systems of Support for All Students, attended by teams of state officials, social workers, district leaders, early learning providers, and others from 37 states.

Earlier in the week, leaders from the 30 cities participating in the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Success Mentors Initiative gathered in Arlington, Va. for a national training summit to prepare for the start of the school year. Participants heard how to identify and support students who are, or are at risk of becoming, chronically absent from school, and steps to help them succeed. Attendance Works was pleased to participate in one of the sessions at the training summit.

The ESED National Conference

The excitement among participants during the two-day ESED National Conference was palpable. Part of President Obama’s MBK Initiative, the event was designed to support and expand chronic absenteeism work being done across the county and expose educators and practioners to guidance from federal agencies.

Attendance Works is proud to have played a key role, along with Healthy Schools Campaign, in helping DOE design and staff the conference The goals were clear: support states, districts and schools in developing effective policies and practices, showcase how schools are addressing the root causes of chronic absence, and strengthen the capacity of cross-sector efforts to link students to a comprehensive, multi-tiered set of interventions, programs and preventative services.

Ann Whalen, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Education, and James Cole, General Counsel and Co-Chair of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force with DOE delivered the opening remarks.

Drawing on the support from the White House, DOE, and the Departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Justice, participants heard presentations that would foster cross-sector collaboration on topics such as protecting privacy when sharing student data, engaging and addressing challenges for migrant students, and a joint DOE-HHS healthy students initiative to expand school-based health services.

Attendance Works’ Executive Director Hedy Chang and Johns Hopkins’ researcher Robert Balfanz from the Everyone Graduates Center together discussed the causes of and scalable opportunities available to address and eliminate chronic absence, especially using a Success Mentor program.

“As awareness of chronic absenteeism builds across the country, the opportunity before us is to use it as a call for collective problem-solving and action, rather than making the all too common assumption that children are not in school because their parents do not care,” said Chang. “The attendance data that schools and districts collect every day can be used as an early warning sign that shows us students who need support and triggers interventions aimed at helping students overcome the challenges they face when getting to school.”

One of the conference highlights was a plenary “Fireside Chat” with Marian Wright Edelman of Children’s Defense Fund, HUD Secretary Julian Castro and DOE Secretary John King.

Below are resources from the three activities:

Updated June 23, 2016

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