Attendance Works News

August 27th, 2015

Are you ready for Attendance Awareness Month?

Attendance Awareness Month starts next week —Tuesday, Sept. 1. Are you ready?

Attendance Works and our partners have heard from so many schools and communities about what they’re doing. If you haven’t signaled your involvement yet, here’s what you can do.

  1. Post on the Attendance Action Map: We’ve got about 200 pins now but would love to see more. This is an easy way to alert us to what you’re doing. West Virginia got off to a strong start with more than 20 communities posting. California has now taken the lead, but schools and communities can pin until Oct. 1.
  2. Share your proclamations: We’re keeping a tally of school boards, city councils, county commissions and elected leaders who are issuing Attendance Awareness Month proclamations. Florida has five posted already. Share news and photos of your proclamation on this post or email
  3. Urge local superintendents to sign up our Call to Action. If your school leadership changed, make sure the new superintendent is still on board. Kudos to Georgia, which has gone from O to 14 names listed in the past two weeks. This year we’re featuring the superintendents on the Call to Action in an ad that will run the last week of September in Education Week. We need names by mid September.
  4. Tweet post and pin on social media. We’ve got some memes and prewritten tweets on the website, or create your own using the hashtag #schooleveryday. We’d love your help promoting our Mapping the Early Attendance Gap brief we’re releasing with the Healthy Schools Campaign on Sept. 1. We’ll share social media posts and a live link on Monday.
  5. Join our Mapping the Gap webinar on Sept. 9. Our final Attendance Awareness Month webinar expands on our brief about attendance gaps and features a panel of state leaders talking about how they are addressing chronic absence in their states. Don’t miss it.

Posted in Research | Comments Off on Are you ready for Attendance Awareness Month?

August 20th, 2015

Why Do Teens Miss School?

Why do teenagers miss so much school? And what can we do to get them to come back to class?

Get Schooled, a nonprofit that connects to thousands of students across the country, decided to find out. In late July, the group conducted an e-mail survey of 15,000 students active on the Get Schooled website. More than 1,300 students from 46 states responded, a mix of age groups and racial and ethnic backgrounds. Only a quarter of the students reported missing more than five days in the year.

The reasons they gave for missing school were enlightening:

  1. I wasn’t feeling well: 79%
  2. I had obligations with my family: 40%
  3. I didn’t feel like it: 21%
  4. I didn’t do my homework/study for a test: 17
  5. I didn’t have a ride: 10%

Breaking down the numbers even further, Get Schooled found some trends:

  •  Middle school students are more likely than high school students to cite social issues/bullying issue as a cause to miss school
  • White students are least likely to cite ‘no ride’ as an issue for missing school but most likely to cite family obligations and social issues/bullying as reasons for missing school
  • African American students are most likely to cite ‘no ride’ as a reason for missing school
  • Asian students are least like to cite “not feeling well as a reason for missing school

Among those students who said they occasionally miss and frequently miss school, a few reasons stand out:

  • Students who frequently miss and occasionally miss are most likely to cite homework/not ready for a test as a reason for missing school
  • Students who occasionally miss are most likely to cite family obligations as a reason for missing school
  • Students who frequently miss are most likely to cite “didn’t feel like it” as a reason for missing school

Most students – 95 percent – say their parents are largely aware of when they miss school, though that drops to 84 percent among students who miss the most school. Students are less certain that their teachers notice: Two-thirds believe that at least one teacher notices, though the numbers are slightly lower among middle school students.

What would bring them back to school? Incentives seem to be the answer. About three in five said they would be motivated by rewards. Nearly as many said they would be motivated by the opportunity to win an amazing experience if they had perfect attendance. More than half said they would come to school more often if they had a better understanding of the consequences of missing school and the connection to a dream job.

This is great information as schools and communities plan their messaging and activities for Attendance Awareness Month. It also informs Get Schooled efforts to encourage better attendance. Beginning in mid-September, Get Schooled will offer several initiatives that will reinforce key messages and encourage improved attendance. Any student in the country can sign up or participate in these activities on the Get Schooled website:

  • Get Schooled Calculator – Wonder if you absences are adding up? We have a calculator that can tell you if you’re missing too many days.
  • Get Schooled Breakfast Club – Students can sign up to receive daily inspirational messages and inside tips from Get Schooled celebrity ambassadors and more.
  • Get Schooled Perfect Attendance Prize Packs – If you check in on Get Schooled at your school every day for a month, students will be in the running to win a Get Schooled prize pack. We are also exploring the feasibility of offering the school with the most ‘full month check ins” could win a lunch for those students on us.
  • Get Schooled Perfect Attendance –Check in every school day for the whole school year and a luck student could be celebrating the end of the year in Times Square with us!











Posted in Research | Comments Off on Why Do Teens Miss School?

August 16th, 2015

New Head Start Rules Would Shift Approach on Attendance

From its start  50 years ago, Head Start has aimed to be a crucible for innovation and best practices in early childhood education. So we’re delighted to see that a proposed set of performance standards would include new rules about addressing absenteeism among the 3- and 4-year-old children attending the program. Still we believe they need to go further. The federal Administration of Children and Families is accepting comments until Sept. 17, and we encourage our allies to join us in urging even more changes to Head Start rules.

The new regulations proposed in June, the first major revision since the standards were created in 1975, acknowledge the growing body of research that demonstrates the importance of regular attendance in preschool. The proposal states:

Consistent with the research mentioned above, the central addition to this section is the requirement that attendance be tracked for each child. We also propose to require programs take actions including attempting to conduct additional home visits and provision of support services, as necessary, to increase child attendance when children have four or more consecutive unexcused absences or are frequently absent.

Attendance Works applauds these steps, but believes the goals of the updated performance standards could be strengthened significantly if revised in several ways. Here are the comments we are submitting, and we encourage our allies to submit similar comments. See this link for instructions on how to submit.

Our recommendations include:

  • Require full-day Head Start programs to use chronic absence, missing 10% of more of days, as an early warning indicator that a student is academically at-risk and requires immediate intervention.  Specifically in section 1302.16 Attendance a.2, language should be revised from using 4 unexcused absences to trigger a response to missing 10% or more of the Head Start program, starting with the second month of school. Chronic absence should be used as a trigger for contacting a child’s parents to ensure the family understands the benefits of regular attendance and to find out about any barriers to attendance. A 10% measure will also help ensure that program staff members reach students with challenges at home. Outreach should be verbal or face-to-face contact, rather than robo-calls. Research from the Baltimore Education Research Consortium demonstrates that absenteeism in the first month of the school year predicted a 50% likelihood that a preschooler will be chronically absent for the rest of the year. This is true whether the absences are excused or unexcused, consecutive or sporadic. Since these early absences often reflect unmanaged health challenges, programs should also consider chronic absence a trigger to check with families about needed health or mental health supports and related services as outlined in section 1302.42. Half-day programs should also monitor which students are missing 10% or more of days, but should be mindful of the contributing factors such as the lack of transportation or other logistical challenges posed by the half-day schedule.
  • Require programs to monitor the percentage of students who are chronically absent not just average daily attendance. The average number of children who show up on any given day can mask the number who are missing so much school they are academically at-risk. Studies of early childhood programs including Head Starts in Chicago, DC and Baltimore show that average daily attendance rates of 85% can hide chronic absence rates of 35% or greater. We suggest revising section 1302.16 to require full-day Head Start programs to monitor and examine the number and proportion of students missing 10% or more.
  • Use chronic absence to monitor need for systemic changes. Chronic absence data can identify both children at-risk of long-term academic challenges and systemic issues impacting Head Start populations. In section 1302.16 we encourage requiring programs to analyze chronic absence data by classroom, program and if possible neighborhood to spot concentrations of chronic absence with an eye toward systemic barriers (e.g. neighborhood safety, problematic program quality and health concerns.)
  • Equip teachers to discuss attendance and chronic absence through regular interactions with students and families. Attendance Works has learned through focus groups with parents of children in Head Start and other early education programs that they consider teachers as trusted messengers about educational opportunity. Those same parents say they hear very little from teachers about how absences can add up. Head Start educators have a unique opportunity to set the stage about why regular attendance is important and what children miss when they’re not in school. We suggest that teachers integrate attention to attendance into parent /teacher conferences and into welcome and orientation programs. Review of attendance data with families by teachers can be integrated into section 1302.34 b2
  • Set targets for improving chronic absence. The proposed regulation requires programs to use academic data to establish a baseline and identify goals for improvement. Attendance Works urges Head Start programs to establish baseline data for chronic absence and set targets for improvement based upon prior levels. In section 1302.102 b2c2 we would suggest adding attendance and chronic absence data as a measure of accountability.
  • Use chronic absence data to identify priorities for community partnerships. Concentrations of chronic absence among students from certain classrooms or neighborhoods could be an indicator of larger systemic issues. In section 1302.53 we recommend that Head Start programs use chronic absence data to understand underlying drivers of absenteeism and identify community based partners to help resolve barriers to regular attendance.




Posted in Elementary | Comments Off on New Head Start Rules Would Shift Approach on Attendance

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