WINTER 2020
A Note from the Executive Director
As I look back upon the events of this tumultuous year, I am both alarmed and inspired. I am alarmed because of the tens of millions of children in our country who are losing out on learning and opportunities for development due in part to a lack of digital and personal connectivity, unstable housing, illness and trauma. I am concerned about the potential long-term impact of these worrisome trends, particularly for Black, Native American, Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latinx students and those living in low-income communities.  

I’m inspired because I also see evidence that learning loss is not destiny. Throughout 2020, we saw amazing and heartening examples of people, schools, community partners and public officials making a difference. It was our privilege to highlight the stories of courage and leadership during our webinars this past year. Each speaker showed how, for many children and families, schools are an essential connection to resources, and how educators and their partners can use absenteeism data to take strategic and preventive action. 

And I’m hopeful that our new report and scan of attendance policies across 50 states and the District of Columbia show that the majority have now reinstated the practice of taking attendance daily. (Find the report, Are Students Present and Accounted For? An Examination of State Attendance Policies During the Covid-19 Pandemic.)

I appreciate the growing number of partners and researchers who share our commitment to using the data and lessons learned from this fall to identify early warning metrics that can ensure that remote or blended learning offerings decrease rather than exacerbate inequities. As described in our memo for President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team, we look forward to the policies and support that could be advanced with a new administration.  

As we enter 2021, please join us in calling for everyone to do what is in their power to find the students we haven't found, partner with families to support the students struggling with learning, and use data to target investments where they are needed most.  

Many thanks to everyone for all of the extra hours spent ensuring students have access to learning. We hope you will use the holidays to renew your spirit and strength, and we look forward to working with you to continue our progress in the New Year!

Best wishes,

Hedy N. Chang
Executive Director and Founder
When schools fully reopen, it won’t be “business as usual.” Together we are creating practices that recognize this new educational reality and make better futures possible for our children and their families. Please consider donating to Attendance Works here!
News Highlights
Attendance Awareness Campaign 2020
The Attendance Awareness Campaign during September was celebrated with virtual and in-person activities from schools and communities across the country. Many communities also responded with food, computer devices, and other basic needs. We are grateful for these efforts and more carried out by teachers, staff, education leaders and community partners who invested time and energy to ensure all students have access to opportunities to learn!

Here are a few of the metrics we’ve gathered from the AAC:

  • 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

Resource Spotlight
Many parents and caregivers don’t fully understand the connection between absenteeism and academic achievement. We’ve updated our Parent Flyers with tips for learning during Covid-19. Email them to elementary and middle and high school families. (in English & Spanish!)

Through a collaboration with Discovery Education and Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Kaiser Permanente has expanded their Resilience in School Environments (RISE) initiative to include a new series of e-learning modules known as Ready, Set, RISE!. These no cost, on-demand learning reinforce the human connection and empathy in schools.

Reducing chronic absence goes hand in hand with cultivating positive conditions for learning. When adults and students have worked on social and emotional competence, the school climate improves. CASEL has released resources for adult SEL support: Strengthen Adult Social, Emotional, and Cultural Competence and Self-Care and Reenergizing.

MENTOR is celebrating students with disabilities during the month of December. Created by Partners for Youth with Disabilities, Best Practices for Mentoring Youth with Disabilities covers examples of mentoring models from across the U.S. that are designed and delivered in a way that is inclusive and supportive of youth with disabilities.
Policy Spotlight
With so many education changes brought about by the pandemic, measuring attendance and noticing which students are facing difficulties in showing up for learning is more essential than ever. Attendance Works has updated our policy recommendations for reducing the adverse and disproportionate impacts of Covid-19 on students and families and ensuring a positive, long-term recovery. Learn more.

We’ve revised our policy section on our website to respond to new challenges brought to light this year. Find updated policy guidance for federal, state and local officials, policy advocates and policy makers.
Research
Kindergarten and first grade students are missing more school than at any other point during the elementary years. New research from Michael Gottfried, J. Jacob Kirksey and Ethan Hutt find that new teachers entering these early grades understood chronic absenteeism and found their schooling requirements were helpful. The teachers felt better prepared to address absenteeism when they felt stronger support from their university supervisors. Find Can teacher education programs help prepare new kindergarten and first grade teachers to address student absenteeism?
State News
Taking and using daily attendance has been disrupted by the shift to distance and blended learning. With this in mind, we are pleased and impressed with Connecticut and California’s efforts to analyze and publicly share attendance data. The data is alarming, but is being used to inform action. Read our blog post.
Events
The Institute for Educational Leadership recognizes the importance of family and community engagement as an essential element in efforts to improve outcomes for children cradle to career. Save the date for the 2021 National Family and Community Engagement Conference, June 1-4, 2021.
Consulting Services
Need assistance starting a program to address chronic absence during this ever-changing school year, or want to provide interventions to students who are missing too many days? Attendance Works offers fee-based consulting services tailored to individual state agencies, school districts and schools, in addition to free resources and strategies. Find out more.
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.