A Note from the Director


The 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.


Hedy Chang


Practice Spotlight



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 can do:



1. 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 others.


4. Sign up for our webinar on August 7: Absences Add Up: Practical Tips for Communicating to Parents and the Media.



More Powerful Version of K-5 DATT Now Available!


On Monday, 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



Policy Spotlight



State Legislative Action Targets Chronic Absence


Legislatures 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.



Civil 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.



Capitol Hill Briefing Focuses on Absenteeism


Attendance 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 suspensions.



Research Spotlight



Central Texas Study Reveals Causes of Absences


An analysis 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?


Just 5 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.




New York 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 Present, here.

About Attendance Works



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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Bringing Attendance Home: Engaging Parents in Preventing Chronic Absence 


Created with the help of practitioners who have worked successfully with families to improve attendance, this toolkit is filled with ideas, activities and materials that you can use to spark conversations with parents.




Count Us In! Working Together to Show that Every School Day Matters


If you are recognizing September as Attendance Awareness Month, use our toolkit to start planning what activities you want to pursue. 


New Video-- Attendance Works: A Community Imperative


Attendance Works has created this video to explain the problem of chronic absence-its prevalence across the country and its impact on student achievement at every grade level. We also offer solutions that can engage the school and the community in building a culture of good attendance.



In the News



Upcoming Webinar



August 7: Absences Add Up! Practical Tips for Communicating to Parents and the Media


September is Attendance Awareness Month. How do you plan to raise awareness about this important issue? Join us to learn about communication strategies and tactics to maximize your media outreach efforts and engage parents in your community. 






Do you love our online tools, resources, webinars and up-to-date information on attendance research and news? Donate to Attendance Works! 

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. 


Contact Us




For more information contact: info@attendanceworks.org



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.


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