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2012 has been an extraordinary year for Attendance Works, with the issue of chronic absence taking hold firmly in the education establishment and with our approach to student attendance—and our online tools and resources—reaching thousands of educators, community partners and parents across the country.

A number of communities are already seeing a difference. This month’s newsletter recounts how our work in Buffalo, NY, and Los Angeles has helped reduce chronic absence and, in the case of LA, save money. Attendance Works is also helping to catalyze and launch attendance efforts in more than six states.

We have more than 500 practitioners in our peer learning network. In partnership with Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, we have reached 124 communities, engaged 48 superintendents in a Call to Action and worked with mayors to secure unanimous approval for a chronic absence resolution by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Our website, which receives more than 10,000 hits each month, provides access to online tools for educators, community partners and parents. We maintain a consistent media presence: In the past year, chronic absence and our work has been citied in dozens of newspaper articles including the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle and Huffington Post – to name a few. And we’ve advised the Ad Council’s Boost Up campaign as it launched a series of PSAs about school attendance.

Please help us reach more districts, states and communities by making a tax-deductible contribution to Attendance Works.

donateSeason's Greetings,

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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NAEP Study Connects Absences, Poor Tests Results


Last week, Education Week reported on a new study showing that eighth graders with too many absences in the previous month had lower scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. What did that mean for fourth graders, we wondered?

Researchers Alan L. Ginsburg and Naomi Chudowsky were quick to share their findings and create new charts. They found that a quarter of fourth graders who scored below the Basic level in reading on the 2011 NAEP had missed three or more days in the previous month, compared with only 13 percent of the Advanced students.

On the other end of the scale, only 45 percent of the lowest scoring fourth graders, those below Basic, had perfect attendance the prior month compared with 58 percent of the students who scored Advanced in reading. An analysis of eighth and 12th grade students showed similar patterns, according to Time for Learning: An Exploratory Analysis of NAEP Data.

Read more


The Gift of Attendance: Holiday Messaging Toolkit for Schools

Absences often spike in the weeks before and after winter break as families try to squeeze in a few more vacation days. To break this cycle, Attendance Works has developed a Holiday Messaging Toolkit that includes talking points, sample emails to parents and incentive ideas for school leaders to use to encourage good attendance around the holidays.

To view our toolkit in both, English and Spanish, click here.


Dropout Prevention Ads Focus on Attendance

The Boost Up campaign, a partnership between the Ad Council and the U.S. Army designed to reduce high school dropout rates, targeted middle school chronic absenteeism last month with a series of public service announcements alerting parents of the direct impact of school absences on academic achievement and graduation. Boost Up’s attendance campaign includes:

  • A television ad expressing the vital role of parents in getting their children to school every morning.
  • A radio ad using alarm clock tones to express the importance of honoring a daily routine of attendance.
  • A page on Boost Up’s website offering resources for parents to counter barriers to attendance such as asthma, bullying, or other issues.

Read more

Los Angeles, Buffalo Describe Systemic Approaches

In Buffalo, NY, a plan that focused on attendance helped reduced chronic absence by 8 percentage points in its first year. In Los Angeles, a strategic push led to 48,000 fewer absences in targeted schools and saved the district $1.5 million. Both school districts rely on systemic approaches that capture the key ingredients for improving attendance: actionable data, positive messaging, capacity building and shared accountability.

Leaders from the two districts, along with Oakland Unified School District in California, spoke about how they worked collaboratively with their communities on our Nov. 13 peer learning webinar with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
Other recent webinars include:

  • We explored the connection between attendance health concerns, particularly asthma and the role nurses can play in a Dec. 13 webinar with the Campaign.
  • We highlighted the impact that good afterschool programs can have on improving school day attendance in a webinar with the Expanded Learning and Afterschool project.


Are you just starting to track chronic absence? Use our free data tools, the DATT and the SATT for districts and schools.


Attendance Works Director, Hedy Chang appears on NBC's Class Action
, NBC Class Action, November, 2012

An empty-desk epidemic, A series, The Chicago Tribune, 2012

School Reform Program Targets Students at Risk of Falling Behind, Dropping Out, PBS Newshour, December 12, 2012

Why a Principal Created His Own Currency, NPR, December 14, 2012


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


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.


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.