February 23, 2024

5 Strategies for Getting Ahead of the Spring Slide

The Spring Slide refers to the lower attendance and loss of academic progress that can occur as students become distracted with warmer weather and the fast approaching end to the school year. But all hope is not lost. There are plenty of initiatives and campaigns you can try to beat the spring slide and ensure that students continue to attend and engage in learning through the end of school year. 

Read on to discover five strategies to beat the Spring Slide, including some bonus tips that you can leverage throughout the year from our partners at Elk Hills School District in California!

1. Create targeted “Spring Slide” campaigns

We’ve all implemented “Back To School” campaigns in August, but the spring is a severely underrated time to launch a campaign to engage families, teachers & students with a renewed attendance focus. Work with your attendance team to identify & share resources with staff and your school community around the importance of showing up to school before and after spring break, and implement creative and celebratory incentives to increase enthusiasm around showing up to school every day. Our partners at Elk Hills host an annual Easter Egg hunt the day before Spring Break, which is always well attended.   

2. Take another look at your school calendar

If it’s not too late, make sure your culminating events like prom and graduation are as late in the year as possible. These celebratory events signal to students that school is coming to a close, and attendance often dips significantly after these big events. The later you can put them in the school calendar, the better. 

While you’re reflecting on your calendar, it could be a good time to reconsider your holidays. Elk Hills returns from long holiday breaks on Tuesdays, not Mondays, and starts the school year a little bit earlier and ends a bit later. By getting ahead of vacation extenders, they’ve seen a remarkable increase in attendance. 

3. Ensure after school programs go through the end of the year 

Not having access to after school care is a significant barrier for families. Oftentimes after school care is contracted through a separate organization. When their calendar doesn’t align with the school calendar, this can mean significantly lower attendance on days when care is not provided. Take steps to ensure that families can access all day care, all the way through the last day of school. 

4. Design targeted interventions for students on the cusp of becoming chronically absent (ie: missing between 8-12% of school). 

In the early spring months, there is still time to catch students before they end the year being chronically absent (missing 10% or more of school). However, if strong interventions aren’t in place when spring approaches, the spring slide can lead to students falling behind and ending the year chronically absent. If you’re able, take a look at your attendance data to detect any patterns or trends that you can design targeted outreach for. For example, if you learn that a student at risk of becoming chronically absent is frequently missing Mondays, reach out to the family, determine what’s interfering with Monday attendance and tie an incentive to that day. 

5. Intentional family & community engagement all year long

When families, students, and other community members understand the importance of attendance, the slide shouldn’t be as steep. At Elk Hills, Community School Coordinator Cassandra McGowan has a multitude of fun initiatives underway all year long that nurture a positive school climate and build a culture of attendance. 

Cassandra hosts a monthly community bingo night that draws in both parents and grandparents. In between calling numbers, she quizzes participants with attendance related questions. With prizes ranging from PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention & Supports) points to housewares and science experiments, this popular event doesn’t just bring everyone together but keeps conversations around attendance flowing. Sometimes, when grandparents hear about a student’s low attendance, they even push parents to keep the student’s attendance on track. 

Elk Hills is serious about celebrating improved attendance and the work both families and students have put in to get there.  Throughout the year, Cassandra sends thank you notes to families of students who have improved attendance by 10% or more, acknowledging their efforts and applauding the great strides their students have made. 

Students are celebrated throughout the year as well, with “Most Improved Attendance Awards” and the “Elk of the Month” celebrations being just a couple examples. The “Elk of the Month” goes to one student in every class with the highest amount of PBIS points, no unexcused absences, and only one excused absence. They are honored with a special certificate and a gift card to get a Pizookie at BJ’s Restaurant! 

For those who don’t know, a Pizookie is a big cookie topped with ice cream :) 

These awards not only reinforce core values and good attendance, but by avoiding the “perfect attendance” trap, they are intentionally motivating and celebratory.

With dynamic initiatives and engagement in place all year long, you’ll have a better chance of not seeing as steep of a slide. It can feel challenging to get ahead of something that may feel “inevitable,” but the more we can do to proactively address absenteeism, the better the outcomes will be for students. 

Looking for more on the Spring Slide? Don’t forget to sign up for our free 30 minute session on March 6

Getting students on track starts with attendance. We can help.