Teens and Their Families

High school attendance presents a different set of opportunities and challenges than elementary or middle school. As students mature, they increasingly make more decisions for themselves about what matters, including where to engage and show up.

Choose from the resources linked below to use in your interactions with students or families, including during morning greetings, calls home, parent teacher conferences or during school or community events. With all of the challenges students face in attending school today, what makes them want to go to school?

Positive Conditions for Learning

High school students face an array of challenges to being in school. Districts and schools can work towards reinstituting the foundational supports so necessary to creating a positive learning environment that engages students and families and also motivates them to attend. Learn more about positive conditions for learning.

Bright Spots

Read how high schools in Connecticut engaged students using positive conditions for learning.

High schools in California are improving attendance in the aftermath of the pandemic:

Engage Teens In Tracking Their Attendance

Among middle and high school students, it is important to empower students to develop their own strategies for getting to school and to monitor when absences add up.

Outreach to Students and Parents

In middle and high school, it’s important to target messages toward students as well as parents. Schools can engage students with incentives, contests and strong messaging. Sports stars can be particularly powerful messengers.

Health-related absences can often be avoided.

Handouts to give to families of teens.

Use these research-based handouts developed by the University of Chicago Consortium of Chicago School Research with talking points for the high school years.

Bullying and Attendance

A quarter of U.S. middle and high school students report that they are bullied at school, and about 15 percent of those bullied student miss school because of it. See these resources:


Mentoring has proven an effective strategy for improving attendance among teens who are chronically absent or at risk of becoming so. Different models use school staff, peers or National Service workers.

  • The national Success Mentors initiative uses an evidence-based and data-driven mentor model and student support system to tackle chronic absenteeism. The initiative connects students with dedicated Success Mentors to help them navigate their school experience, improve attendance and become college and career ready.

  • Check & Connect assigns trained mentors to at-risk students to improve engagement with school and learning through close monitoring of their attendance, behavior, and grades.

  • City Year uses AmeriCorps members who commit to a year of full-time service in schools, where they work as tutors, mentors and role models. Attendance is a key focus.

  • Peer Group Connection: The Center for Supportive Schools uses a peer learning model to ensure a better transition from middle to high school.

  • RAMP: The Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program uses group, peer, and individual mentoring to build on existing career development efforts by schools and employers.