Reducing chronic absence takes an entire community, so community schools initiatives have a special role to play. Chronic absence is an excellent tool for community schools efforts because it is an easy to understand measure that encourages collaboration between educators and community partners.  Community schools can call for chronic absence data and use it to understand which students, families and schools need help the most. And they can use the data point as an indicator that helps partners see how their collective efforts makes a difference.


Attendance Works has developed a version of our video that focuses specifically on what communities schools initiatives are doing to track, monitor and address chronic absence

Chronic Absences Community Schools rev3 from N.A.K. Production Associates on Vimeo.

Case Studies:

  • Baltimore, Md.: Community schools are part of a district-wide push to reduce chronic absence, with strategies including health clinics embedded in schools, data sharing with the Social Services Department and an explicit focus by afterschool providers.
  • Grand Rapids, Mich.: With support from the Kent School Services Network , community schools and tracking chronic absence and tapping community agencies and foundations to intervene with students.  The network also uses the chronic absence data to evaluate the success of its effort.
  • Oakland, Calif.: As a full services community schools district, Oakland has built chronic absence tracking into its work at every grade level. Efforts include professional development for principals and teachers, community outreach through the Oakland Education Cabinet and an aggressive messaging campaign to parents.

Self Assessment

This assessment sheet can help you examine the extent to your community schools effort is addressing chronic absence and where it could be strengthened.

Community Self-Assessment


Attendance Improvement: Presenting “A Do It Together” Toolkit for Community Schools

At the April 2014  Coalition for Community Schools National Forum, Attendance Works and the Children’s Aid Society led a panel discussing how chronic absence is a proven early warning sign of academic risk and an easily understood and readily measured goal that can help unify and validate the contributions of multiple stakeholders.


  • Hedy Chang, Director, Attendance Works
  • Sarah Jonas, Director of Regional Initiatives, National Center for Community Schools, The Children’s Aid Society
  • Abe Fernandez, Director of Collective Impact, The Children’s Aid Society