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The first webinar of the 2024 Attendance Awareness Campaign – On the Front Line: The Crucial Role of Teachers (April 3) – investigated support systems that can equip teachers to forge relationships with students and their families.

Hedy Chang, executive director of Attendance Works, and Kwesi Rollins, vice president for leadership and engagement at the Institute for Educational Leadership, kicked off the webinar. Kwesi introduced the theme of this year’s AAC Campaign – Be Present, Be Powerful! – along new badges with variations for younger and older students.

The key to reducing chronic absence is addressing the barriers that cause students to miss too much school, Chang explained. A multi-tiered support system developed by the district or school, is necessary to reestablish those relationships with students and their families to help increase engagement.

Featured speakers:

  • Kaaren Andrews, national director, Center for High School Success
  • James Arndt, principal, Camelback High School, Phoenix Union High School District, AZ
  • Isis Blass, teacher, Camelback High School, Phoenix Union High School District, AZ
  • Mayte Ramirez, principal, Campus Park Elementary, Livingston Union School District, CA
  • Laura Tellez, dual language academy teacher, Campus Park Elementary, Livingston Union School District, CA
  • Maria Torres-Perez, director of categorical programs & special projects, Livingston Union School District, CA

Mayte noted that Campus Park Elementary lowered its chronic absence rate by 3.7% in the 2023-2024 school year. She highlighted the school’s communication strategy for students and families, shared during the transition back to school, that communicated clear pandemic-era guidelines.

At Camelback High School, the freshman chronic absenteeism rate dropped by over 13% in 2023-2024 as a result of a 9th grade success program that utilizes a core team of teachers, student surveys and data to help address the academic, social and attendance health of each individual student, Arndt said.

Both teachers made clear that relationships were central in their classrooms. At Campus Park Elementary, Tellez explained how daily student check-ins and consistent communication between the teacher and the attendance team l) made identifying patterns of absences easier.

At Camelback High School, Blass identified transportation as being a prominent barrier to attendance, but a welcoming environment and personal relationships were key to encouraging older students to attend classes. Clear expectations of accountability, visibility on campus and timely communication are all helpful in building relationships with students, according to Isis.

Andrews shared how the Center for High School Success partners with high schools to improve graduation rates by focusing on 9th grade attendance and achievement. The Center for High School Success helps schools to make the most of their average attendance reports to understand the root cause of absences and craft appropriate support measures.

Torres-Perez defined the role that districts play in making sure that key support systems are in place in their schools. Livingston Union School District focuses on family engagement with ongoing communication across a variety of platforms; in addition to, calling on their relationships with community partners and county agencies for support and services. At the district and school level, attendance teams are in place, she said.

If you missed this event, click here and scroll down for the archived recording and materials.

Save the date and register today for the remaining Attendance Awareness Campaign webinars.

  • Essential Partnerships for Showing Up: Families, Youth and Community
    Wednesday, May 15, 2024: 12-1:30pm PT / 3-4:30pm ET
    Register for webinar #2
  • Creating a Culture of Belonging and Engagement: Principals In Action
    Wednesday, August 7, 2024: 12-1:30pm PT / 3-4:30pm ET
    Register for webinar #3
  • Leadership for Sustainability: Superintendents Making a Difference
    Wednesday, September 25, 2024: 12-1:30pm PT / 3-4:30pm ET
    Register for webinar #4

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