FALL 2018
Chronic Absence Data Illuminates the Problem and Solutions
A Note from the Executive Director

We’ve just finished co-sponsoring the sixth Attendance Awareness Month and were excited to see the high level of participation at the school, district, community and state levels! Superintendents in 46 states plus D.C. included chronic absence in September messages, more than 6,000 people signed up for our webinars and over 16,000 received our weekly newsletters.

We have been thrilled by the popularity of our September brief, Data Matters: Using Chronic Absence to Accelerate Action for Student Success, released with the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University. Emphasizing the value of making chronic absence data transparent and available, it is accompanied by state level chronic absence data files, and  an interactive map from The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution which make it easy for everyone to find and compare levels of chronic absence across states, school districts and schools.

Keep in mind that improving attendance requires paying attention to chronic absence throughout the year. Schools should be using their data to anticipate and prevent attendance dips. See our materials about holiday messaging and student health in this newsletter. 

A next major opportunity to spur policy action is the release of state-level school report cards. Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, these must include chronic absence data and should be publicly released December 2018. The Healthy Schools Campaign and Attendance Works are co-launching a national awareness campaign called Here + Healthy to raise awareness about the chronic absence indicator, with a special focus on how schools and health providers can work together to address health-related causes of missing school. Watch for it!

Best wishes,

Hedy N. Chang
Executive Director, Attendance Works
Holiday Messaging
Families often don't realize how keeping their student out of school for extra days during the holidays can affect student achievement. Find targeted strategies and tools for educators in the Attendance Works Holiday Messaging toolkit.
How Sick is Too Sick?
Sometimes it's hard to know when to send a child to school or keep her home and manage chronic conditions. This handout helps explain
News Highlights
Attendance Awareness Month
From the first day of September until the last, Attendance Awareness Month drew an explosion of activity from schools and communities across the country. They recorded student PSAs, held rallies, issued proclamations, hung posters and, of course, calculated their chronic absenteeism data. We are especially appreciative of this year’s corporate sponsors: Scholastic, Safe and Civil Schools and French Toast.
Here are a few of the metrics we've gathered:

  • 6,306 people registered for one of our Attendance webinars
  • 16,345 people have signed up for our newsletters.
  • 673+ Superintendents in 46 states, plus DC pinned our Superintendents Map, a boost from 616 in 2017.
  • 16 attendance awareness updates emailed (Go here to see them all)
  • 1,157+ news stories and blog posts featured attendance issues or Attendance Awareness Month in July, August and September.
  • 7,110+ tweets featured the #schooleveryday hashtag in September alone, generating 19.6 million impressions, up from 17.6 last year.
  • 225,126 website page views in September

Help Us Improve the Attendance Awareness Campaign!
We are interested to know what you think about what worked this year, and what might be improved. Please take a few minutes and complete a short survey and don’t forget to provide your contact info to be included in a chance to win one of two $50 gift cards! Please finish the survey by November 5. Find the survey.
Research Spotlight
Interventions in Nebraska state intended to improve attendance are effective with students who miss the most school, or at least 20 percent of the year, according researchers at the University of Nebraska. Absenteeism Interventions: An Approach for Common Definitions in Statewide Program Evaluations, is published in Justice Evaluation Journal. 
The Economic Policy Institutes’ report uses National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data to describe how much school children are missing; which groups of children miss school most often; and any changes in these patterns between 2003 and 2015. Student absenteeism: Who misses school and how missing school matters for performance includes evidence showing that higher levels of absenteeism are associated with lower levels of student performance. 
ESSA Spotlight
In a new Learning Policy Institute blog, Attendance Works' Hedy Chang describes successful policies and practices some states have implemented to decrease chronic absence, including Connecticut, which has decreased chronic absence statewide for every subpopulation of students, by nearly 10,000 students overall. 

Washington state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction tool, “ Regular Attendance Deep Dive,” provides regular attendance data for 2015, 2016, and 2017 school years, along with detailed race and ethnicity data tied to outcomes including attendance. OSPI’s Attendance System Improvement Guide for school or district leaders, and teams including staff and community members, offers guidance on interpreting data and developing goals and strategies for attendance improvement.

With so many states using chronic absenteeism in their accountability rubrics required by ESSA it's important to understand how to use the federal law's funding mechanisms to improve attendance. A blog post from FutureEd with an accompanying table, lays out some of the options. 
Practice Spotlight
A toolkit created by Healthy Schools Campaign includes promising school-based programs to address some of the most common student health conditions. But schools don’t have to do this alone. Addressing the Health-Related Causes of Chronic Absenteeism: A Toolkit for Action recommends key partners in the health and public health sectors who can support efforts to address health-related absences. 

Over 700 people participated in Reducing Chronic Absence with School Climate and SEL, a webinar sponsored by Panorama and hosted by EdWeek. The webinar highlighted a new framework for understanding the connection between chronic absence and investing in social emotional learning developed by Attendance Works and the American Institutes for Research, and showcases work in Grand Rapids, MI and Ogden, UT.

Our blog post describes how a prior investment in social emotional learning was critical to the success of the Cleveland Metropolitan Schools Get 2 School, You Can Make It! Campaign. Lorri Hobson, CMS Director of Attendance, shares in a video interview how a school shooting in 2007 motivated her to oppose taking a punitive response to poor attendance and to emphasize support and engagement. Find the blog and link to the interview video.

REL West focused on chronic absence in its October newsletter: what it is and the work that educators and policymakers are doing to ensure that students receive the support they need to get to and stay in school every day. Find a variety of resources, from research reports to video resources to toolkits.
Attendance Team Guidance
Principals are uniquely positioned to ensure their school community adopts a comprehensive, tiered approach to attendance improvement and have a team to support implementation. Attendance Works has updated the attendance team guidance in our Leading Attendance toolkit for principals.
Webinar Spotlight
REL Mid-Atlantic will host a free webinar on promising strategies to reduce chronic absenteeism with a focus on state and local education agency staff, school counselors, and attendance officers. Join What Research Tells Us About Addressing Student Chronic Absenteeism on October 25, 2018, 2:00–3:00 p.m. ET. Register here.

Each webinar in the Team Up For Attendance! series illustrates how schools, districts, states and community partners can work together. Did you miss one? Find the presentation, discussion guide and recordings for Working Together Matters, Leadership Matters, Community Matters, and Data Matters on our website.
Technical Assistance Available
Need assistance starting a program to address chronic absence, or want to dig deeper to provide interventions to students who are missing too many days? In addition to free resources and strategies, Attendance Works offers fee-based consulting services tailored to individual state agencies, school districts and schools. Find out more.
Giving Tuesday
As you consider your Giving Tuesday contributions make sure to support Attendance Works! Your tax-deductible donation allows us to stay current with our strategies and makes it possible for us to provide Attendance Awareness Month materials, toolkits and other free resources free of charge. Your support helps to ensure that all students have an opportunity to thrive, do well in school and succeed. Take a moment to donate now.
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: The California Endowment, The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, First 5 San Francisco, Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, Hellman Foundation, Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Open Society Institute – Baltimore, The Patterson Foundation, Skillman Foundation, San Francisco Foundation, Stuart Foundation, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.