FALL 2021
A Note from the Executive Director
The very high levels of chronic absence schools are experiencing at the start of this school year, when students are typically learning fundamental skills, are alarming and troubling. Research shows that absenteeism in the first month of school can predict poor attendance throughout the school year.

Even in schools or districts that had relatively high attendance before Covid-19, there have been significant increases in absenteeism. See this initial study from California. Students who quarantine over a two week period are chronically absent, and schools and districts should have in place contingency plans or options for continuing instruction remotely.

This year’s Attendance Awareness Campaign theme, Rebound With Attendance, reminds everyone to review their absenteeism data from the first months of school. This data will help to see early on which students are in need of additional support. If absenteeism affects a large group of students, it is a sign that systemic solutions are needed to ensure equal access to learning opportunities. Learn more from the Pathways to Engagement toolkit.

Building relationships – a smart strategy before the pandemic – is critical now. Schools should make sure families and staff feel safe and supported by listening to their needs and by taking a positive, problem-solving approach to individual circumstances. Ensuring that Tier 2 relationship building supports are in place at scale for all students who were quarantined can help them to keep learning from home and to catch up when they return.

Tier 2 supports include meetings or home visits (in person or virtual), developing individual attendance plans with families and students, and tutoring and offering participation in expanded or out-of-school time learning. Find more examples of Tier 2 interventions in the Attendance Playbook we developed with FutureEd.

I recently had the opportunity to be interviewed for Dateline:Schools, a daily radio and video streaming program that highlights the positive happenings in the schools of St. Clair County, Michigan. In five short videos I answer questions about chronic absence during the current crisis. Find the videos on our blog.

Although turning around chronic absence at scale can seem daunting, numerous examples of schools and districts using effective practices – some adopted prior to the pandemic and others developed during – are engaging families and students to address and overcome attendance barriers. Read Rural Maine: Relationship Building Improved Outreach During Covid-19.

With gratitude,

Hedy N. Chang
Executive Director and Founder
Your gift will help schools and communities adopt innovative and equitable practices, while addressing the challenges of Covid-19, that enable students and families to achieve their dreams. Help us close the attendance and achievement gap by making a donation today!
News Highlights
Attendance Awareness Campaign 2021
We and our AAC partners just closed the ninth annual Attendance Awareness Month Campaign held during September. We saw activities from schools and communities across the country who developed PSAs and videos, shared posters, created contests, issued proclamations and monitored absences.

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

  • 15,517 people registered for one of our Attendance Awareness Campaign webinars, compared to 9,971 last year
  • 37,780 people are signed up for our newsletters, compared with 34,430 last year
  • 12 attendance awareness updates emailed (go here to see them all)
  • 101 national and state level partners disseminated information to their constituents
  • 1,100+ news stories and blog posts featured attendance issues or Attendance Awareness Month in July, August and September
  • 325,000 website page views in July, August and September
  • 1,439 tweets featured the #schooleveryday hashtag in July, August and September, generating 13,180,244 million potential impressions 

Read about more metrics here.
We are especially appreciative of this year’s corporate sponsors: EveryDay Labs, French Toast and Kaiser Permanente.
AAC 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 an Attendance Works three-part training series for educators to learn proven, evidence-based, tiered strategies to promote attendance and engagement during the pandemic. Find the survey here.
Resource Spotlight
We are regularly updating our Family Handouts for elementary and secondary (middle and high school) families to respond to changes related to the pandemic. Please look at the date on the handout so you know you have the most up-to-date version. Family Handouts.

We’ve updated for Covid-19 a sample letter that can be used to alert parents and caregivers when a student is chronically absent. Download one of the sample letters and personalize it for your school or district.

Student Attendance Success Plans are designed to help parents track their children’s attendance and work with teachers to set appropriate goals. We’ve updated the Success Plans for Covid, for elementary families and secondary students. They are also in new translations. Find the Success Plans.

The nonprofit MENTOR’s relationship centered schools approach encourages intentional adult-student relationships to inspire learning and improve attendance. Learn more.

Have you adapted attendance strategies for virtual or remote learning aligned with your local, district or state guidance? Please email and share your innovation with us at info@attendanceworks.org
Research News
A new study from the Annenberg Institute finds that sworn law enforcement officer (SRO) presence in public schools increases chronic absenteeism, particularly for students with disabilities. Researchers also found SRO presence intensified the use of suspensions, expulsions and police referrals, which are consistently over two times larger for Black students than white students. Read the study.
In The Arts Advantage: Impacts of Arts Education on Boston students, researchers with EdVestors saw that access to arts classes had consistent positive effects on student attendance, especially for students who have a history of chronic absenteeism. Arts education increases student and parent school engagement, and has modest effects on student achievement, particularly in English Language Arts for middle school students. Find the report.
Federal News
The U.S. Department of Education’s latest resource, Supporting Child and Student Social, Emotional, Behavioral and Mental Health, highlights seven key challenges to providing school- or program-based mental health support across early childhood and K–12 schools and offers seven corresponding recommendations. Find the report.

A fact sheet from the Education Department lists action steps to create a school and learning environment that is responsive to students with mental health disabilities, and educational and crisis resources for students, families and educators. Resources in the American Rescue Plan can be used right now to support expanded mental health services in schools. Find the Fact Sheet.
State News
Preliminary analysis of student-level data from 22 local education agencies in California shows that more high school students struggled to attend, engage in school and pass their classes in the 2020-21 school year than in the past. Education Analytics found that the number of students who are attending school less than 80% of the time (or missing on average one or more days of school per week), doubled in the 2020-21 school year. Read more in this the blog post.

Districts and schools continue to wrestle with challenges to attendance, enrollment and learning from Covid, and we are pleased to offer guidance. Find a list of the latest news stories with quotes from Attendance Works.
We were delighted to participate in the National Governor Association’s Oct. 22 webinar, Strategies for Reengaging Students During and Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic. We discussed strategies for helping students get back on the path to graduation and reducing chronic absenteeism. Find the recording and related resources.

Our four Attendance Awareness Campaign webinars offer promising strategies being used in districts, schools and with communities that are engaging students and families and resulting in strong attendance, whether teaching is virtual, in-person or a blend. We’ve posted the presentation slides and link to the event recording for all four webinars on our website.

The National Association of Elementary School Principals has posted the recording of the Oct. 27 webinar, Reducing Chronic Absence: Insights from Successful Principals. We joined principals Andrea Walley and Armando Duenas and shared strategies for school teams to address and reduce chronic absenteeism. Find the webinar.
In addition to free resources and strategies, Attendance Works offers fee-based consulting services tailored to individual state agencies, school districts and schools. Our virtual options provide the same high-quality technical assistance. For more information email cecelia@attendanceworks.org
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 Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, GRoW @ Annenberg, Heising-Simons Foundation, Hellman Foundation, Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Open Society Institute–Baltimore, The Patterson Foundation, Rogers Family Foundation, Stuart Foundation, United Way of Greater Kansas City.