FALL 2020
Data for Problem Solving, Not Blame
A Note from the Executive Director
This year’s Attendance Awareness Campaign theme, Present, Engaged and Supported! is more important than ever this fall. Our return to school has been the most challenging in memory; every month still feels like a year. We know that students drop out, change schools and miss more days in transitions years — kindergarten, 6th and 9th grades. More recently we see a drop in student attendance across all grades as schools have transitioned to virtual, in-person or blended learning. It’s vital to keep students present, engaged and supported no matter how lessons are presented.

This fall we are grateful and overwhelmed by the response of educators throughout the country who have pivoted to create engaging online, in-person and blended lessons. This past quarter, Attendance Works has reenvisioned a number of our resources to help educators address attendance during the Covid-19 era:

Find more of our updated resources below, including new materials for students and families and recommendations to guide state and local policy that leverage data on absences to identify and address equity gaps.

As we move through the fall, we urge everyone to review their absenteeism data from the first months of school. This data will provide feedback on how new approaches to teaching (in person, virtual or a blend) are working, as well as act as an early warning sign for which students are missing too much class, (two days or more a month), and require additional outreach and support. If data affects a large group of students, it is a sign that systemic solutions are needed to ensure equal access to learning opportunities.

We also can use the data and experience from the first months of school to better understand what are the most meaningful early warning metrics and how can they be collected easily and efficiently without creating an undue burden for teachers. Read this blog to learn more.

Keep in mind that effective practices adopted prior to the pandemic can help lay a foundation for continued success during in-person, distance and blended learning. To see how this can be done, read The Covid Pivot: Addressing Chronic Absence Made a Difference for Hickman Mills

With gratitude for your outsized efforts to keep students learning, attending and moving forward,

Hedy N. Chang
Founder and Executive Director
As the coronavirus continues to change the way schools operate, we are committed to doing everything we can to help states, districts and schools understand how to use all of their data to achieve their goals, and we are reinforcing the importance of building relationships with families and students now and in the future. Our ability to provide free strategies, resources and technical assistance depends on our foundation partners, colleagues and you. Please consider donating to Attendance Works here!
News Highlights
Attendance Awareness Campaign 2020
Although the return to school this year was challenging, the Attendance Awareness Campaign during September was celebrated with virtual and in-person activities from schools and communities across the country. They recorded rap videos, shared posters, created contests, issued proclamations and monitored absences. We are especially appreciative of this year’s corporate sponsors:  EveryDay Labs, French Toast, Kaiser Permanente, Safe and Civil Schools, and Remind.

Here are a few of the metrics we've gathered:

  • 9,971 people registered for one of our Attendance Awareness Campaign webinars, compared to 8,426 last year
  • 34,430 people signed up for our newsletters, compared with 21,200 last year
  • 9 attendance awareness updates emailed (go here to see them all)
  • 99 national and state level partners disseminated information to their constituents
  • 1,005 news stories and blog posts featured attendance issues or Attendance Awareness Month in July, August and September
  • 268,000 website page views in July, August and September
  • 700 tweets featured the #schooleveryday hashtag in July, August and September, generating 11 million potential impressions 
  • 319 messages were posted during our September 29 Twitter chat, generating 4,100,000 potential impressions

ACC Survey!
Please give us feedback on this year's Attendance Awareness Campaign and offer ideas for how we can improve. Our short survey will just take 5 minutes to complete. Fill in your contact information and enter a drawing to win one of two $50 gift cards. Find the survey here.
Resource Spotlight
Attendance Works has updated a number of our resources to reflect teaching and learning during the Covid era. Download them and share with your students and families.

  • New Family Handouts for elementary and secondary (middle and high school) families and help send the message that attendance matters regardless of whether school is in-person or a blend
  • Student Attendance Success Plans are designed to help parents track their children’s attendance and work with teachers to set appropriate goals. Download our updated Success Plans for elementary families and secondary students. 

From July to September, Education Week tracked the first-day instructional plans for over 900 of the nation’s 13,000 public school districts. Take a look at what these school reopenings looked like.
Research News
The Council of State Governments Justice Center report summarizes key findings from an unprecedented research study on the impact of juvenile justice system involvement — particularly probation — on school attendance in South Carolina. Rethinking the Role of the Juvenile Justice System: Improving Youth’s School Attendance and Educational Outcomes finds that kids involved in the juvenile justice system in South Carolina not only didn’t experience attendance improvements, but their attendance actually got worse. View the infographic.

This year in particular, schools can play a pivotal role in preventing, assessing, and addressing trauma in order to support students’ well-being. In a new brief published by PACE, Kevin Gee and colleagues at the University of California, Davis explain a “trauma-informed” approach using a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) model. Read Multi-Tiered System of Support to Address Childhood Trauma: Evidence and Implications.
Policy News
Given the pandemic, measuring attendance and noticing which students are facing difficulties in showing up for learning is more essential than ever. Attendance Works has released new policy recommendations that promote taking daily attendance and using multiple measures, including chronic absence, to trigger support for students and families. These policies will help ensure a positive, long-term recovery. Learn more.
State News
States are facing significant challenges to assessing student progress this year. State assessment results, for example, can’t be interpreted this year without a better understanding of the circumstances and opportunities facing students. This is Not a Test, This is an Emergency: Special Considerations for Assessing and Advancing Equity in School Year 2020-2021 from The Aspen Institute recommends a new system that includes measuring “Opportunities to Learn” (OTL) that include students’ access to resources, tools, and experiences they need to learn.

Districts and schools are grappling with challenges from Covid-19, and we are pleased to offer guidance. See a summary of the latest news stories with quotes from Attendance Works.
Attendance Works Training
Are your schools struggling to keep students showing up and engaged during Covid-19? Attendance Works is offering a three-part training series to help educators track and monitor attendance and participation whether learning is in-person, virtual or a blend. Attendance Works staff will explain evidence-based tiered strategies that have been successful in schools and districts. Participants will be able to interact with their peers and the Attendance Works team in virtual breakout rooms. We will charge a fee for participation in this series. Stay tuned for registration and fee info, and Save the Dates! January 13, February 3, February 24. 
Join us on November 10, 2020 for Insights & Data Tracking: Eliminating barriers to attendance and participation, a webinar sponsored by SI&A. Our Executive Director Hedy Chang and a panel of educators will discuss tracking student participation and attendance data in real-time for early identification and individualized interventions. Attendees will walk away with strategies to improve data collection, foster a welcoming (virtual or in-person) school environment and identify students in crisis. Register today!

When Covid-19 led to school building closures in the spring, we developed five webinars to help guide district and school leaders as they managed the shift to distance learning. Each webinar featured our education and community-focused partners and presented a variety of approaches for reducing the adverse impact of the coronavirus on students, families and educators. Find links to each webinar recording and presentation slides on our website. Plan a get together with colleagues to watch and learn!

ICYMI: Our three Attendance Awareness Campaign webinars have been recorded, and links for the live event recording and presentation slides can be found here.
Consulting Services
In addition to free resources and strategies, Attendance Works offers fee-based consulting services tailored to individual state agencies, school districts and schools. We are developing virtual options that provide the same high-quality technical assistance. For more information email [email protected]
Attendance Works would like to express its deep appreciation to the foundations that are currently funding our work nationally and in communities across the country: Annie E. Casey Foundation, The California Endowment, The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, Heising-Simons Foundation, Hellman Foundation, Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Open Society Institute–Baltimore, Rogers Family Foundation, Skillman Foundation, Stuart Foundation, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, United Way of Greater Kansas City.