A Note from the Executive Director
Chronic absence data are increasingly available to the public (as required by the  Every Student Succeeds Act), and more schools are being held accountable for reducing absences. With this increased attention on improving attendance, it is more important than ever to use chronic absence data to promote positive problem solving and prevention.

As schools develop their school improvement plans for the next year, they can take stock of chronic absence levels and identify which students are most affected. Taking steps to improve chronic absence is especially important for ensuring an equal opportunity to learn and succeed for our most vulnerable students. 

Schools and community partners can use data to understand what the challenges are — inside and outside of school — that make showing up to class difficult. Schools can, for example, ask students and families if they are encouraged to show up every day because they feel safe, supported and engaged. They can ask if students experience challenges such as poor health, unsafe routes to school or unstable housing. Schools don’t have to address these issues alone. Rather they can forge partnerships with community partners to develop and implement solutions. 

These last few months of school are a critical time for ensuring students have the supports they need to avoid chronic absence this year, and for developing plans to achieve even greater success next year. Improving outcomes requires avoiding blame, maintaining a focus on positive engagement and finding ways to integrate attention to attendance into existing improvement efforts.  

Hedy N. Chang
Executive Director, Attendance Works
Our ability to continue to provide free resources and tools, webinars, technical assistance and guidance depends on our foundation partners, colleagues and you. 
Next Webinar!
Thursday, May 16, 2019:
Nurture Dreams

2:00pm – 3:30pm ET/ 11:00am – 12:30pm PT

Registration link coming soon!
News Highlights

Michigan Minds Podcast: Reduce Chronic Student Absenteeism by Addressing Poverty, March 7, 2019

Sonoma schools absenteeism varies widely, Sonoma Index-Tribune, March 7, 2019 

A High-Crime Neighborhood Makes It Harder to Show Up for School, WAMU 88.5 American University Radio, February 13, 2019

February 13, 2019
Attendance Awareness Campaign
We’ve launched the 2019 Attendance Awareness Campaign! This year, we’re using our seventh annual Attendance Awareness Campaign to encourage everyone to remember that students are more likely to come to school when they feel safe (emotionally + physically), connected, supported, and believe they can learn and achieve. This year’s theme, We Belong in School, emphasizes the role everyone, from educators to health professionals, to local agency and business partners can play in creating welcoming and engaging schools that encourages showing up every day even when it isn’t easy. We all can help connect students and families to needed resources to overcome barriers to getting to school. Use our updated key messages.

Look for a special focus on health providers and the transition to kindergarten. With so many decisions being made at the state level, we will again call attention to the leadership role states can play as they proceed with ESSA implementation. We’re also inviting state-level nonprofit groups and agencies to join the Campaign as state collaborating partners. 

We broke a record with 2,000+ registered for our first AAC webinar! If you missed our 3/21 webinar, Lay a Foundation: Engage Families to Address Chronic Absence in the Early Years, find the webinar recording, presentation slides & discussion guide on our website here. Future webinars are set for May 16, August 8 and September 10. Save the dates!
Research Spotlight
Researchers from John Hopkins University wanted to find out if absenteeism results from a dangerous commute to school. The study, Danger on the Way to School: Exposure to Violent Crime, Public Transportation, and Absenteeism, found that students whose estimated routes required walking to and waiting at transit stops along streets with higher violent crime rates have higher rates of absenteeism throughout the year. Find the study and read an NPR story about it. 

A mentoring program in high schools leveraged teen peer power and asked high school students to create caring school communities. The result? A study of 30 peer mentoring projects, involving 8,100 teens living in high-need urban and rural communities, found that participants attended school more often than their peers. Today over 180 schools nationwide are currently implementing the program developed by the Center for Supportive Schools (CSS). Read more in our blog post
Tools Spotlight
New! Early Matters Toolkit

  • Early Matters: Integrating Attendance into Kindergarten Transition, our latest toolkit, is a guide to including attendance awareness and introducing strong attendance habits during the transition into elementary school. It offers ideas, resources & success stories for schools, preschools and community agencies. And it outlines how districts, community partners and policy makers can put in place systems to promote the widespread use of attendance practices. Find the toolkit.
  • The Roadmap: Attendance Awareness During the Transition into Kindergarten is a year-round calendar for incorporating attendance activities during this critical time. Find the Roadmap. 

Sample Tweet!
@attendanceworks' new toolkit supports a real community-wide approach to attendance awareness in the early years w. info for principals & preK directors; teachers, social workers & pediatricians; districts, policy makers & funders. Explore: https://www.attendanceworks.org/resources/toolkits/integrating-attendance-into-kindergarten-transition/

Build a Belonging Classroom Video
Edutopia’s video, Building a Belonging Classroom, shows how one teacher encourages his students to feel safe, cared for and emotionally connected to him and to each other. The video is part of the Edutopia’s How Learning Happens series, developed in collaboration with the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. View the video.
Addressing Health-Related Absences
The American Academy of Pediatrics’ policy statement, The Link Between School Attendance and Good Health, presents an incredible opportunity for educators to connect with health care providers as key allies in the effort to reduce health-related student absences. The Council of Chief State School Officers president Pedro Rivera applauds the AAP statement saying pediatricians can be players in every state’s effort to create safe, supportive and engaging schools. Read our blog post.

Attendance Works and the Healthy Schools Campaign are collaborating on the Here + Healthy Campaign to raise awareness nationally about the connection between chronic absenteeism and health. Fortunately there are many evidence-based interventions that can address these health-related absences. Learn more at hereandhealthy.org

The National Association of State Boards of Education released a policy brief, Examining Chronic Absence through a Student Health Lens. Developed in collaboration with Attendance Works and the Healthy Schools Campaign, the brief recommends state boards examine data on student health and suggests questions for state boards to ask and actions they can take to address chronic absence. Find the brief. 
Consulting Services
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.
Event Spotlight
The California School-Based Health Alliance (CSHA) and the L.A. Trust for Children’s Health are hosting the 2019 California School-Based Health Conference: Advancing Wellness & Best Practices for the Future, at the Crowne Plaza Redondo Beach and Marina Hotel in Redondo Beach on May 9-10, 2019. Register!
Thank You Corporate Sponsors
A special thank you to our Attendance Awareness Campaign corporate sponsors for their commitment to help ensure that every child is in school every day. Their generous investment makes it possible for us to provide you with free strategies and materials. Thank you Safe and Civil Schools, French Toast, and In Class Today!
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, Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Los Angeles Partnership for Early Childhood Investment, Open Society Institute –Baltimore, S.H. Cowell Foundation, San Francisco Foundation, Skillman Foundation, Stuart Foundation, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, and Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.