May 17, 2023

5 Ways Districts Can Reduce Chronic Absenteeism

Perhaps your team has been overwhelmed with elevated levels of chronic absenteeism this year, or you have already been implementing initiatives to reduce chronic absenteeism across your district and are looking for new strategies.  Reducing chronic absenteeism is no easy feat, and requires a multifaceted approach. If you’re looking for new ways to help students across your district maximize their learning opportunities, we’ve highlighted five strategies that can help.

1. Get to the root cause 

One of the most effective ways to ensure an intervention will be successful is to ground interventions in the root causes of a student's absenteeism patterns. Research shows that chronically absent students in particular may experience on average up to 10 barriers to attending school. It's critical that school staff develop strategies to uncover these root causes. A good place to start is making a call home and delivering a barrier assessment to determine how the team can support the student and their family in getting their attendance back on track. Noting down barriers in a platform like EveryDay Pro helps teams efficiently share that information so that everyone has visibility into the insights surfaced to help inform future interventions and initiatives. 

2. Use data to inform strategic intervention

Having clear visibility into attendance numbers, including monthly snapshots of both average daily attendance and chronic absence rates, the ability to sort by demographic like race or FRPL status, or viewing how many students fall into each attendance tier, can help you take inventory of your district and/or school’s reality. Armed with accurate and relevant data, (in EveryDay Pro, it’s updated daily) you can create a plan to help individual and small groups of students, as well as determine where to allocate district resources on a larger scale to support bigger initiatives.   

3. Send attendance nudges to at-risk and chronically absent students 

Research has shown that families often underestimate how much school their students are missing, which is why a nudge that informs them of their students’ attendance and compares it to the average student in their class helps motivate them to get their students’ attendance back on track. However, not all nudges are created equal, and there’s much to consider before launching this type of initiative. Personalization, readability, offers of support, and timing are all critical to a nudge’s success. And since capacity to carry out this sort of initiative can vary school by school, it’s important to choose a solution that can be implemented districtwide, at scale. A research-based intervention like EveryDay Intervention can be a good start.  

4. Engage families as partners

Ramping up family communications and sending out nudges that reinforce the importance of attendance and the agency that families have in their students’ success are a great way to bring families into the conversation. But it shouldn’t stop there. Regular calls home and home visits can help establish positive communications and relationships with families. 

Given the numerous barriers families may be facing, a strong system for connecting families to district resources like transportation, food distribution, and wellness supports should be in place. Having a good Tier 1 solution like EveryDay Intervention that does this work for you can help prevent at-risk students from falling through the cracks and requiring more intensive and costly interventions. The Family Insights Toolkit is packed with additional strategies to help support this work.  

5. Build a positive school culture through community schools strategies 

When students and families know that school is a welcoming and fun place to be, attendance numbers often reflect that. But in the wake of myriad disruptions and disconnections that the pandemic wrought across the country, creating a school climate that supports all members of the community is more important than ever before. Many states provide special funding to help build and nurture a community schools approach that strategically leverages family engagement, student and staff connections, and family outreach. This may include mentorship programs that motivate and inspire students to show up and work hard or community events that connect old and new friends with their educators. The new Attendance Playbook from FutureEd also highlights the success of community schools and the funding currently available to help support this approach. 

Looking for a partner to support your attendance initiatives? EveryDay Labs is here to help. Contact us to learn more. 

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