Friday, November 11, 2011

Toolkit Provides Strategies to Improve Student Attendance

Attendance Works has developed a toolkit to help city leaders and communities address chronic absenteeism among students – a seemingly basic, yet critical, step in a student’s academic success. According to the toolkit, chronic absence is defined as missing 10 percent of schools days. Nearly one in 10 kindergarten students misses a month of school each year, which can dramatically impact a student’s ability to fully comprehend key concepts. Data from the toolkit suggests that, on average, students who were chronically absent from school during their kindergarten and first grade years scored roughly 100 points below their peers on third-grade reading tests. Studies also suggest that, at older ages, chronic absenteeism becomes a strong predictor of high school dropout rates. The stakes are even higher for low-income children, who are four times as likely to be absent from school and tend to enter school underprepared when compared to their peers.

In an effort to address chronic absenteeism among students, Attendance Works toolkit provides city leaders and community residents with case studies of cities that have effectively reduced student absences, tools that can be used analyze attendance data and 5 specific strategies that can be used to engage schools, community residents and families in improving student attendance rates. These strategies include:

  1. Get, share and monitor chronic absence data. Partnering with schools to gather attendance information and sharing it with the community can help to identify the problem and its solutions.
  2. Make student attendance a community priority. Developing community task forces and educating residents and families about this issue can ensure that the community is informed about the consequences of absenteeism and the relationship between attendance and academic success.
  3. Partner with schools and city funded agencies to nurture a culture of attendance. City leaders have the capacity to build public awareness campaigns, direct funding towards schools and programs that require additional resources to address chronic absenteeism and develop programs or volunteer initiatives that can target students struggling with attendance.
  4. Identify and address systemic barriers to school attendance. City leaders, schools and families can use data to identify barriers and develop solutions that meet the unique needs of students and families in the community.
  5. Advocate for stronger policies and public investments. Developing school policies and standards of data collection can ensure that chronic absenteeism remains an important issue and receives support.

For more information about the Attendance Work and access to their toolkit, please click here.

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