9 things schools can do today to improve attendance

Learn how your district can address chronic absenteeism

5. Collect and act on real-time data
While behavior challenges are common reasons why students miss school, few districts actually have systems to regularly check in on a student’s behavior and daily interactions. Using a behavior management system or school culture system such as Kickboard, we can intentionally set behavior goals and monitor culture data in real time, as well as celebrate progress or provide support when students need it. Further, this type of data system can help clarify which interventions are effective, when to intensify supports, and when schoolwide systems may need to be revised to improve student attendance.

6. Develop positive relationships
A student’s emotional attachment to school can also be increased by developing positive student-to-teacher relationships. When students feel safe and seen by their educators, school begins to feel more like a home away from home. Having positive peer relationships can promote healthy attendance as well. Using structures like student government and morning meetings, we’re empowering students to have an active presence and helping them develop a collective identity. We’re also working toward implementing restorative justice practices to create a bigger impact next school year.

7. Promote equity
Our belief in equity is rooted in the fact that our differences as individuals strengthen our schools. To live this belief, we need to make sure all students are welcomed, accepted, and protected against discrimination in our schools. To make this a reality, we’re working to eliminate bias in our systems and interactions. In addition to revising our discipline policies and implementing more proactive interventions, we’re committed to providing ongoing professional development on culturally relevant practices, instruction, and leadership to make sure all students receive access to rigorous coursework and supports to meet their unique needs.

8. Involve families
Students are more likely to have a positive experience at school if their parents or guardians are actively involved. Last year, many families told us that they didn’t feel welcome and they weren’t given enough opportunity to interact with their child’s school. To change that, every school is designating a family liaison. We’re creating a calendar of events to help students and parents develop positive connections to the school and district. We’re also conducting ongoing family surveys to determine what we can do to provide more opportunities for parents to contribute to their child’s learning.

9. Develop community partnerships
Schools may not have all of the resources required to support chronic absenteeism improvement. In LCS, we have established a Community/Business/School Partnership team to identify and collaborate with community resources, such as social services and housing agencies, to ensure that no student need goes unmet.

Students need to be at school to learn. The more absences each student has, the more likely they are to not meet learning goals. There are a number of ways that schools and districts can address scholars’ needs to improve attendance, using in-school supports and community resources. The key is to intervene before it’s too late.

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