Since the launch of Attendance Works,one of our primary goals has been delivering a strong message about the importance of school attendance, starting in kindergarten. We began helping people recognize the need to look beyond average daily attendance and truancy numbers to seeing how many students were missing too many days in excused and unexcused absences. We also shifted what we tell parents about attendance, stressing its importance for their children’s future, rather than the legal requirement.

Now we’re fine-tuning our message even more. Last month, we released a messaging toolkit that shared strategies and good work going on across the country. In Indiana, for instance, billboards and refrigerator magnets proclaim “Missing School Matters.” In Baltimore, the “Every Day Counts” campaign is partnering with the mayor’s office on a series of attendance contests. This fall, we’re enlisting local superintendents in a Call to Action and asking them to use their megaphones to proclaim how much attendance matters.

Hedy Chang

Attendance Works is a national and state initiative that promotes awareness of the important role that school attendance plays in achieving academic success. It aims to ensure that every school in every state not only tracks chronic absence data for its individual students but also partners with families and community agencies to help those children.

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Superintendents Pledge to Promote Attendance Early and Often

Thus far, 31 local school superintendents from 17 states have joined Attendance Works and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading in supporting the Call to Action for improving school attendance. From big cities such as Los Angeles to small places such as Petal, Miss., school leaders are agreeing to spread the word about the importance of school attendance, dig deep into their data and mobilize entire communities to get students to school on time every day.

We are still seeking district leaders to join the Call to Action, so please share this link and any of our materials with your superintendent. You can use our letter to superintendents or share a printed version of the Call to Action.

Utah, Indiana Studies Reveal Statewide Trends

Statewide studies in Utah and Indiana shed new light on chronic absenteeism and its connection to high school graduation.

Researchers at the University of Utah used five years of the state’s attendance data to determine that the odds of a student dropping out are 7.4 times greater if he or she is chronically absent in any year, starting in eighth grade. The new study, discussed in our Sept. 5 peer learning webinar, also teased out the role that absenteeism plays, as opposed to other risk factors, finding that “70 percent of the relationship between chronic absenteeism and dropping out can be accounted for by the indirect effects...and 30 percent...is completely independent of GPA.”

An Indiana University study released in July found that chronic absence correlated with lower test scores and higher dropout rates for all students, regardless of socioeconomic status. The Indiana Partnerships Center, which initiated the study, is following up with a public messaging campaign and policy initiatives.

Attendance Competition Reduces Absences in PreK and K

Recognizing that chronic absence starts early, Baltimore’s mayor and school district began the school year with a month-long attendance contest aimed at preK and kindergarten students. Under the rules, the school that showed the most improvement over the previous year would receive a $1,000 grant and win a day for its students at a children’s museum. The winner, announced Friday, was Westside Elementary School, where preK and kindergarten attendance shot up from 89 percent last year to 95 percent this fall.

“Attendance is an ongoing focus for our school, so winning the first Mayor’s Attendance Campaign competition is tremendous — because it recognizes the hard work of our students, teachers and families,” Westside principal Brian Pluim said.

How is Westside going to spend its $1,000 grant from Comcast?

Extra school uniforms.

Read more

Updated K-5 DATT and SATT Make Sharing Student Data Easier

Get the updated data tools now! The DATT and SATT still generate colorful, handy charts to show your district's and school's chronic absence patterns. New sections to the Handbooks give more options to help you maintain student confidentiality when sharing with partners outside of your school district.

Click here to register for the revised tools. Keep in mind, these tools are designed for use by the district data staff.


Oct. 11:

Workshop presentation at Communities for Change 2012, nFocus Solutions and Search Institute. Houston, Texas.

Oct. 19:

Workshop presentation at Illinois Community Schools Forum, Chicago, Ill.

Nov. 13:

Peer learning webinar with school district leaders, 1-2 p.m. ET.


Make Every Day Count: This Attendance Works toolkit can help jump start attendance campaigns in schools and communities across the country. Click here to get started.



Skipping to Nowhere: Students share their views about missing school, in a report by Get Schooled!


Nancy O’Malley and Tony Smith: We must work together to get children to attend school, Contra Costa Times, September 6, 2012

Addressing student absenteeism, Cincinatti.com, September 21, 2012



For more information contact: info@attendanceworks.org or
Attendance Works Director
Hedy Chang at hedy@attendanceworks.org.

Attendance Works would like to express its deep appreciation to the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for investing in our development and launch as a national initiative. In addition, we thank The San Francisco Foundation and The California Endowment for supporting our campaign in California.