Key Ingredients for Systemic Change
Take a Data Driven Systemic Approach
As the graphic below shows, improving attendance is a team not a solo sport and ultimately requires a systemic approach. Our experience working across the country tells us that while attendance improvements can begin in a single classroom or school, the most effective and sustainable approaches are data-driven, and are supported by strong district, school and community leadership. These key ingredients of change support taking a systems approach, and can be applied to district and state-level action and policy – which are ideally working in alignment with each other.
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Provide professional development to district and school staff and community partners so they have the skills and knowledge they need to take a data-driven, positive, problem-solving and multi-tiered approach to supporting student attendance, participation and engagement. During the 2020-2021 school year, capacity building requires a leadership team that ensures staff have the skills to manage blended learning environments and multiple school transitions, promote digital literacy, and respond to the social-emotional and physical needs of the school community.
Collect and report quantitative attendance and chronic absence data and qualitative analysis that can show reasons that students miss school that are accurate, accessible, timely, comprehensive and understandable. These data will inform the development of prevention and intervention strategies and allocation of resources that support student attendance. During the 2020-2021 school year, actionable data requires monitoring multiple metrics including chronic absence, contact, connectivity, relationships and participation. The data collection is used to activate positive supports, not punitive action.
Create a culture of attendance by taking a positive, not punitive, approach to absenteeism that is centered on belonging and engagement, and help everyone to understand why daily attendance matters in PreK-12th grade. Positive engagement for the 2020-2021 school year should ensure that blended and distance learning environments incorporate relationship and community building strategies and engage students and families when developing key decisions.
Strengthen and expand partnerships between the district, school and community to provide for a full range of resources and supports to address barriers to attendance. Engage outside partners that can support building relationships and engaging students and families in identifying and addressing attendance barriers. For the 2020-2021 school year, strategic partnerships should expand site-level capacity to address basic needs (i.e. food, physical and behavioral health services, economic support and housing), ensure access to the internet and technology, and provide additional opportunities for engagement and enrichment.
Absenteeism is a cross-cutting issue and cannot be solved by any one person, department or agency. Create systems and cross-departmental and infrastructure support for attendance, and hold stakeholders – students, families, educators, agencies and community partners – responsible for helping to reduce chronic absence. Shared accountability for the 2020-2021 school year should guarantee the regular collection, monitoring and sharing of attendance metrics to support problem solving and resource allocation.
Go to our newest toolkit, Present, Engaged and Supported and use the key ingredients to guide planning around the school transitions that will occur throughout the year.