Community Schools

Reducing chronic absence takes an entire community, so community schools initiatives have a special role to play. Chronic absence is an excellent tool for community schools efforts because it is an easy to understand measure that encourages collaboration between educators and community partners.  Community schools can call for chronic absence data and use it to understand which students, families and schools need help the most. And they can use the data point as an indicator that helps partners see how their collective efforts makes a difference.

Case Studies
  • New York, NY:  Following the first three years of NYC’s Community Schools initiative (2016-2018), chronic absenteeism was 7.3 percentage points lower in community elementary and middle schools, and 8.3 points lower in high schools. Disciplinary incidents also declined sharply with the performance of students in demographically-similar non-community schools. Read Illustrating the Promise of Community Schools: An Assessment of the Impact of the NYC Community Schools Initiative by the RAND Corporation.

  • Baltimore, MD: Almost 50 community schools in Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) use attendance data to inform action plans that encourage participation in out-of-school-time (OST) and school programs. School-based health centers and OST programs that are engaging for students are improving attendance rates in BCPS. Baltimore Teachers Union (BTU) members play a key role at school sites as well as at the district and city levels.

  • Grand Rapids, Mich.: With support from the Kent School Services Network, community schools and tracking chronic absence and tapping community agencies and foundations to intervene with students. The network also uses the chronic absence data to evaluate the success of its effort.

  • Oakland, Calif.: As a full services community schools district, Oakland has built chronic absence tracking into its work at every grade level. Efforts include professional development for principals and teachers, community outreach through the Oakland Education Cabinet and an aggressive messaging campaign to parents.

Self Assessment

This assessment sheet can help you examine the extent to your community schools effort is addressing chronic absence and where it could be strengthened.

Community Self-Assessment