Reducing Chronic Absence All Year Long!
A Note from the Executive Director

We are finishing strong as we come to the conclusion of a remarkable year. Chronic absence is now a required component of school report cards. Such data can allow families, students and communities to see if chronic absence is a problem in their schools and take action.

More local communities than ever are participating in our Attendance Awareness Campaign, crunching their data, identifying attendance barriers and bringing more students to school every day. Over 300,000 visitors used our website this year, and we have over 17,500 subscribers to our newsletters.

Early winter marks another key time for early intervention for reducing chronic absence. Identify the students with moderate chronic absence who need slightly more support to prevent them from falling into chronic absence. Implement strategies that include personal outreach, attendance plans that address barriers, and support from mentors.

Concerned about an attendance dip in the spring or near the end of the year? Find out more about anticipating and addressing attendance dips by taking Module 2 of our e-learning Teaching Attendance Curriculum.  Learn more and register.
If you haven't had a chance to donate, click here. Your support is more critical than ever to help us keep up with the mounting demand.

Happy Holidays to All!

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. 
Winter Weather Toolkit
Absenteeism often spikes in the winter months, as holiday travel, bad weather and illness conspire to keep students home from school. Attendance Works has developed Stay the Course: Support Attendance in the Winter Months for districts, schools and communities. Find sample letters to send home , tips for activities and strategies to overcome weather-related barriers that stand in the way of getting children to school. 
News Highlights
Policy Spotlight
Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, school report cards with chronic absence rates must be released by the end of December. Public school-level data can be used to mobilize families, students, and stakeholders of all types to address attendance barriers in their local communities. Click on the state names below to see a few examples of chronic absence data available online:
Practice Spotlight
  • Unpacking the health-related reasons that students miss school is critical for improving attendance. The Healthy Schools Campaign and Attendance Works have launched Here + Healthy, a national initiative to raise awareness about the chronic absence data now in state report cards, with a special focus on how schools and health providers can work together to address health-related causes of missing school. Learn more!

  • New research conducted by Johns Hopkins University on the Parent Teacher Home Visits (PTHV) model found that home visits really do improve attendance. Students whose families met with a teacher at home as part of the PTHV model were 21 percent less likely to be chronically absent and had improved scores on English Language Arts and math tests. The model also benefitted students even if their family didn’t participate in the school’s program! Read our blog and learn about the PTHV model.

  • Across the country, City Year AmeriCorps members are building positive relationships with students and are adding capacity to high-need schools as near-peer tutors, mentors and role models. Read how one AmeriCorps member worked with an eighth grader in Milwaukee to improve attendance. While you are at it, view the updated pages for City Year and Diplomas Now on our website.

Sample Tweet
Take action to improve educational equity in your school community by unpacking the health-related barriers to being in #SchoolEveryDay. What does that mean for you? Find out! #HereandHealthy 
Attendance Awareness Campaign
Participation in the  Attendance Awareness Month Campaign survey increased nearly 60 percent this year! The results show: 
  • 50% of participants surveyed represent K-12 education; 79% work at the local level 
  • 66% crunched data
  • 34% forwarded our resources to colleagues 
  • 90% agree that participation improved their knowledge of the issue, helped them identify local attendance challenges and develop strategies to reduce chronic absences.

Survey participants also told us what they wanted to learn more about in 2019:
  • Mental health 70% 
  • School climate 60% 
  • Physical health 45% 
Webinar and Podcast Spotlight
  • What is the role of principals in addressing chronic absence, how important is it to address absences in the early grades and what resources are available for principals? Listen as Hedy Chang discusses the role of principals in Chronic Absence, the Risks of Not Showing Up, a podcast from the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

  • Safe, positive, engaging learning environments motivate daily attendance even when it isn’t easy to get to school. The webinar Reducing Chronic Absence with School Climate and SEL, sponsored by Panorama and hosted by EdWeek, discusses how attendance and achievement improve when educators have the capacity to put in place the conditions for learning and engagement, even when students enter school challenged and upset by their experiences outside of school.
Research Spotlight
Absent from School: Understanding and Addressing Absenteeism, a new book from University of California Santa Barbara Associate Professor Michael Gottfried and University of Maryland Assistant Professor Ethan L. Hutt takes a fresh look at chronic absence research and school-based initiatives. Topics include transportation, student health, discipline policies, and protections for immigrant students, as well as interventions intended to improve student attendance.

Teachers who send text messages to parents of students who were chronically absent also boosted attendance among that student’s friend network, according to new research. In the working paper, Better Together? Social Networks in Truancy and the Targeting of Treatment, Magdalena Bennett and Peter Bergman from Columbia University show that the “spillover effects” of interventions, such as texting parent alerts, onto a student’s peers can reduce the cost of interventions to improve attendance. Read our blog about the research.

The Georgia Governor’s Office of Student Achievement used the state’s longitudinal education data system to examine the relationship between out-of-school suspensions during kindergarten- 3rd grade and success in English Language Arts and math from 3rd grade through high school. Read How Does Early Childhood Suspension Relate to Achievement in Reading and Math?
Services Spotlight
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.
A Special Thank You
We want to extend a special thank you to the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation for its generous general support contribution in 2018. Their funding helps makes it possible for us to update our strategies, our website and the many resource we make available to help ensure all students have an equal opportunity to learn and to pursue their dreams.
Attendance Works would like to express its deep appreciation to the philanthropic organizations that currently fund 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, Los Angeles Partnership for Early Childhood Investment, Open Society Institute – Baltimore, Rainwater Charitable Foundation, S.H. Cowell Foundation, San Francisco Foundation, Skillman Foundation, Stuart Foundation, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.