A Principal-Led Team Overseeing Attendance

Improving attendance is not a solo sport. It requires a team that meets regularly (ideally weekly) to coordinate efforts to reduce chronic absence, including the work of success mentors. Each principal and school will need to determine whether this should be a team devoted exclusively to attendance or an existing team that has attendance added to its broader functions and responsibilities.

Teams responsible for improving attendance are successful when they involve the right people and maintain a clear sense of purposes. Principal leadership is especially essential. Principal leadership sends the message that attendance is a top priority and ensures that insights gained about what contributes to poor attendance directly informs the school’s overall approach to improving academic outcomes.


As part of establishing this component of the work, the district might also consider what term is best used to describe it. In some places, it is called the school attendance team. In New York City, the Mayor’s Office called this component “student success meetings” to underscore that the purpose of the effort isn’t about compliance but is about driving student achievement.

Regardless of its title, this team is responsible for organizing the schools’ attendance strategy. Team members have a two-fold responsibility. First, they are charged with looking at individual students who are chronically absent and ensuring their needs are met using all available resources. Second, they monitor what is happening overall for all students and student sub-groups at a school site.

Ideally they
  • Coordinate the school’s multi-tiered strategy to reduce chronic absence.

  • Use qualitative and quantitative data to understand the attendance challenges at their school.

  • Use trend data to identify which sub-groups of students are most vulnerable to absenteeism.

  • Ensure that success mentors receive guidance and support to help mentees overcome barriers to attendance.

  • Connect families and students to need-based resources.

  • Monitor progress.

Who Should Serve on the Principal Led Team?

The Following People Should be Considered for Membership
  • Principal and/or another high level administrator

  • School social worker

  • Nurse

  • Guidance counselor

  • Attendance clerk or School Secretary

  • Site coordinator for success mentor program

  • Teachers (engage on an as-needed basis, related to specific students, classrooms, or grades)

  • District staff (engage as needed, to identify resources and partnerships)

  • Parent liaison (engage as needed, focus on whole school and population strategies)

  • Site-based community partners (engage as needed, focus on whole school and population strategies)

To increase the effectiveness of meetings, identify a lead to facilitate the meetings while another member takes notes.

Here are Tips for Organizing an Effective Team

Here are resources that teams can use to examine how they can improve attendance practice for the school as a whole.