past three months have been an extraordinary time for Attendance
Works and our efforts to spread the word about the value of good
attendance. We've been joined by some incredible partners and
dozens of communities in planning for Attendance Awareness Month in
September. We've released two toolkits, one video and an updated
data tracking tool. And we've seen state and federal policymakers
recognize the need to pay attention to chronic absence. We
hope you enjoy this month's newsletter.
Communities Across the Country Join Attendance
Awareness Month Effort
Attendance Awareness Month is this
September and momentum is growing all around the country! More than
4,000 people have downloaded our Count Us In! Toolkit to help plan
Attendance Awareness Month activities and more than 600 people
representing schools and communities nationwide have signed up to
raise awareness about the importance of attending school every day.
There is still time to participate! Here's what you
Sign up to receive our
Attendance Awareness Month Updates.
2. Download our Attendance Awareness Month Materials:
3. Already planning activities in your community? Pin it on our map to share with
4. Sign up for our webinar on August
7: Absences Add Up: Practical Tips for Communicating to Parents and
Powerful Version of K-5 DATT Now Available!
July 1, Attendance Works is releasing a more powerful version of
our K-5 District Attendance Tracking Tool (DATT). In response to
requests from many communities, the new version of the K-5 DATT
generates reports showing chronic absence patterns by ZIP code and
by gender and ethnicity combined.
Since the release of the first version of the K-5
DATT last year, dozens of districts have used this free tool to
analyze their attendance data to see if chronic absence is a
problem for their students, schools and community. To register for
the latest version of the K-5 DATT, click here.
Legislative Action Targets Chronic Absence
in several states approved measures this spring aimed at tracking
chronic absenteeism, intervening with at-risk students and
improving attendance rates.
- Indiana now requires
educators to address absenteeism in school improvement plans
and adds chronic absence to school data reports.
- Illinois established a
task force to examine "issues regarding truancy and
excessive absences" and identify strategies to improve
attendance. The legislation was inspired by a series in the Chicago Tribune.
- California is including
chronic absence as one of eight priorities for accountability
in its new school funding formula, which allows more local
control and adds funds for high-needs students to take into
account the higher costs of educating them.
Rights Data Could Incorporate Chronic Absence
The number of chronically absent students would be
added to the metrics tracked by the U.S Department of Education's
Office of Civil Rights, under a proposal released in the Federal
Register. The current proposal calls for asking state education
departments and local school districts to provide information on
how many students miss 15 days in a school year. It would also add
information on how many days students miss to suspensions.
Attendance Works is pushing for a common definition of chronic
absence as 10 percent of the school year-or 18 days in a typical
180-day school year.
We plan to comment on the administration's proposal and urge you to
do the same. We'll post guidance on what to say in our website's
federal policy section in the days ahead.
Hill Briefing Focuses on Absenteeism
Works' senior policy associate Sue Fothergill spoke last week at a Capitol Hill briefing on
absenteeism in the middle grades. In front of a packed room,
Fothergill explained that more needs to be done to educate state,
local and federal policymakers about chronic absence-an important,
but not widely understood, indicator that a student is falling off
track. "Chronic absence is a flare in the dark that should
prompt us to ask 'what is going on in this child's life,'"
said Fothergill, who also leads the Baltimore Student Attendance Campaign. Fothergill
described how Baltimore has cut middle grade absences in half by
refiguring schools and modifying the discipline code to reduce
Texas Study Reveals Causes of Absences
of student absences in two central Texas school districts found
that about half of all missed days were due to acute illness.
That's not surprising. But what about the other half?
percent resulted from skipping school; another 5 percent of
absences were due to dental or doctor's appointments, according to the study, released
in June by E3 Alliance and Children's Optimal Health. About 4
percent were caused by family emergencies and 2 percent were lost
to travel. In nearly all categories, low-income and at-risk
students had higher rates of absenteeism than their peers.
This study is the sort of tool
that can help communities crack the code on why students are absent
and do something to turn around the trends. Austin's E3 Alliance has been collecting
and analyzing data since 2011 and bringing together the community.
Last September the group launched the region-wide Missing School Matters campaign,
and this September they're celebrating Attendance Awareness Month.
Students Survey Peers About Absenteeism
A group of
New York City students conducted their own research to determine
why 40 percent of the city's high school students are chronically
absent. What they found in their year-long project with the Center for Court Innovation was
remarkably similar to what academic researchers have found: We need
to talk about excused absences, as well as truancy. We need to make
students understand the connection between school and their future.
We need to provide mentors for students and support for parents. Beyond
that, the students identified a barrier to attendance we hadn't
thought of: metal detectors and security at the front door.
Classmates said they often wait in line 20-30 minute to be scanned
and end up late to class. Read their report, From Absent to
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.
Be sure to
follow us on Twitter and Pinterest and like our Facebook page!
Education officials seek team approach to
fight chronic absenteeism, EdSource, June 13, 2013
Advancing Family and Community Engagement in
San Antonio, The U.S. Education Department Blog, June 3,
Nearly 12% of Sac City students chronically
absent, UC Davis study finds, The Sacramento Bee, April
you love our online tools, resources, webinars and up-to-date
information on attendance research and news? Donate to Attendance
Your gift is tax deductible and will support forging a national
consensus on the need to monitor, report and address the effects of
chronic absence. I hope that you will stand with as and support our
work as we work to reduce chronic absence and achieve better
outcomes for all students.
Attendance Works would like to express its deep
appreciation to the foundations supporting our work nationally and in
communities across the country: The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The
California Endowment, The San Francisco Foundation, David and Lucile Packard
Foundation, Community Foundation of Greater New Britain, William Caspar
Memorial Foundation and Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.