State education policy is especially important because federal law often relies upon states to specify how key concepts are defined and generally carried out. For attendance, states determine the age of compulsory education, how truancy is defined and addressed and whether attendance (in the form of average daily attendance or membership count) is used to allocate funding. State guidance, support and policy can promote action at scale across school districts. Affecting state policy is very doable, especially if key stakeholders can work together to push for improvements.
State Level Analysis:
Attendance Works has worked in several states to develop chronic absence analyses or promote policy advances. These include:
- In California, Attendance Works teamed with the California Attendance and Absence Partnership, a coalition of advocates to advance legislation and promote regulatory change. We organized state policy forums in 2011 and 2013
- In Indiana, Attendance Works assisted the Indiana Partnerships Center, the Center for Evaluation & Education Policy at Indiana University and other partners in preparing a report showing that more than 55,000 students are chronically absent each year. Our 2012 policy brief suggests recommended changes, some of which were made by the legislature in 2013.
- In Maryland, Attendance Works conducted a preliminary analysis of the state’s chronic absence data to assess geographic and demographic trends.
- In Oregon, Attendance Works supported the release of a statewide analysis that showed 23 percent of the state’s students are chronically absent. The 2012 report, prepared by ECONorthwest with support from the Children’s Institute and Chalkboard Project, garnered widespread media attention and prompted policy changes.
- In Utah, Attendance Works assisted the Utah Education Policy Center at the University of Utah in developing a 2012 statewide analysis of chronic absence data that showed the prevalence of chronic absence among certain student populations and its effect on achievement and dropout rates.
The Education Commission of the States prepared this report comparing truancy policies among the states.
The Education Commision of the States preared this report on compulsory education ages in all 50 states.
- Conduct statewide analyses of chronic rates and patterns.
- Publish reports that show chronic absence data in state school districts. Rhode Island KIDS COUNT includes the data in its annual Fact Book.
- Arrange briefs and presentations for policy makers to explain the importance of the problem and to discuss policy solutions
- Use internal publications and reach out to media to explain chronic absence.
Influencing Policy Implementation
- Grant Applications: Ensure that state applications for federal education grants include chronic absence as a key component.
- School Success Measures: Push policymakers to use rates of attendance and chronic absence, as well as standardized test scores, to measure a school’s improvement.
- Fiscal Incentives: Structure state funding to provide fiscal incentives to schools and districts that improve attendance.
Pushing for Regulatory Change
- Data Bases: Federal law requires states to set up a longitudinal data base tracking each student’s test scores through their school careers. Encourage state officials to include data on regular attendance and chronic absence, plus total days enrolled.
- Annual Reports: Find out if state regulations ensure attendance data is being tracked annually and, if so, whether such information is then used to analyze and report levels of chronic absence and regular attendance. If it is not tracked, then educate policymakers about how they can adopt regulations to ensure this important data is included and examined.