As districts determine how to close out this school year, operate expanded summer programming, and plan to open for next school year, the biggest question is: How do we ensure that our students show up?
Connecting and engaging with students enables schools to educate for learning recovery and acceleration, stabilize enrollment, and establish a long-term trajectory for success as we plan for our post-pandemic world. The importance of locating disconnected students, re-enrolling students, and preventing chronic absenteeism has never been so significant.
Over the past year, federal and state funding to schools has been provided allowing for unprecedented flexibility for local districts to address their most pressing problems. Recovering student enrollment--so that the academic impact of interruptions in learning can be addressed--is the first step many districts must take. Because of this critical need, the resources are now available for districts to recover students and put a solution in place to address and prevent absenteeism.
EveryDay Labs is the strongest partner for districts to utilize these funding sources to recover enrollment, improve attendance, and, thus, lay the groundwork for achievement.
EveryDay Labs provides an absenteeism intervention that combines the science of effective communication to engage parents and support them in making sure students attend school and are present for learning. The process and product are informed and refined by research to positively impact parent and student attitudes about school and attendance. EveryDay Labs implements the intervention for districts—sending nudge letters and texts, and helping districts set up connections between families and district supports—allowing educators to focus on the important work of teaching and learning. This personalized, consistent outreach is provided in a family’s home language and offers additional resources through a trained family support team. In short, families receive the right resource at the right moment to remove attendance and engagement barriers so they can make sure their students are present and engaged in learning. EveryDay Labs is proven to be effective for in-person and online attendance.
Navigating the funding rules of the federal and state funding streams can be confusing for even the most experienced district administrator. Further, understanding how these resources connect with existing grant programs in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and addressing the associated concerns of supplant/supplement local contributions is fundamental to maximizing long-term benefits to students.
To date, there have been three rounds of federal legislation to respond to these current district needs: the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES, 2020) which established the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER); the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA, Dec. 2020); and the American Rescue Plan (ARP, 2021). These programs have and will continue to deliver resources to states and districts with the intention of:
The allowable use of these funds is much broader than previous legislation, enabling local districts to directly address the needs of students, teachers, and communities. The need to recover enrollment and ensure high attendance rates is the top priority for student achievement, staffing stabilization, and district planning. And with most “supplement not supplant” provisions found in ESSA Title 1 expenditures waived for these COVID pandemic allocations, districts can and should invest in ensuring students are present and accounted for this summer and beyond.
Investing these budget sources into recovering enrollment and preventing absenteeism is the best way to expand both the scope and effectiveness of your current systems and lay the groundwork for improved student engagement. Funds available now, when well-invested in an EveryDay Labs partnership, pay dividends in enrollment and average daily attendance funding and maximizes the time teachers have to yield achievement benefits in social-emotional and academic learning.
These funding sources can enable communities to address both the immediate impact of student disconnection from school caused by the pandemic and recover in a way that addresses the pre-pandemic epidemic of absenteeism. EveryDay Labs directly addresses these needs and shows students, parents, and educators that being present and engaged are the foundation of achievement.
Title 1 funds are distributed to schools that have a high concentration of students who are eligible for Free and Reduced Priced Meals (FRM). Schools that qualify for Title 1 have students who often have challenges of parents working multiple jobs, housing instability, and other impacts of poverty. EveryDay Labs qualifies for funding to address the disproportionate absenteeism correlated with FRM status in any year.
Title II funds are distributed to schools to recruit, train, and develop educators. And ensuring that all educators know how to identify, intervene, and refer for assistance students that demonstrate concerning attendance behaviors, is a high priority. EveryDay Labs provides both procedures and materials for staff to utilize; and EveryDay Labs provides professional learning for educators on how to engage with students and families to promote attendance and engagement.
Title III funds are distributed to schools based on the number of students who are designated English Language Learners (ELL/ESOL). Students qualifying for the ELL/ESOL designation come from a variety of circumstances--from newcomer immigrants to long-time citizens, from seasonal migrants to multi-generational neighborhood communities, and with students and parents from across the range of latitudes and longitudes. Connecting with these diverse communities, in their home language and with cultural respect, is critical to their progress in obtaining English fluency and academic achievement in all subject matters. EveryDay Labs has the experience, technology, and cultural competencies to successfully boost attendance with ELL/ESOL families.
Title IV funds are provided to increase family involvement in schools and ensure students learn knowledge and skills needed for the 21st Century, including by providing students with a well-rounded, digitally enhanced education. While Title IV funding supports a variety of local program implementations--from fine arts to SEL to STEM and beyond--all of these programs are to be measured by their impact on achievement and attendance. EveryDay Labs can support attendance for the comprehensive school, the specialized program within a school, and the before/after school programming funded by Title IV.
Whether a district or school is utilizing the small school, alternate use authority, and/or the rural low-income provisions as part of the Rural Achievement Program, successfully reaching, enrolling, and maintaining attendance for students is the basis of student success. This section of the ESSA bill, and the subsequent COVID-19 relief programs aligned with these priorities, enables the transfer of funds, within limits, to support this important work. EveryDay Labs is experienced in the unique challenges of overcoming physical distance and communication infrastructure faced by rural schools.
Additional funding sources for the important work of promoting attendance and mitigating absenteeism include school improvement and accountability programs, reading and family engagement programs, and public-private-philanthropic sector collaborations that unite education with other community providers.
Before the pandemic, absenteeism was a problem for many students and districts. The pandemic has resulted in districts seeking to find and reconnect with many of their students. EveryDay Labs works with schools to build a system of recovery and prevention to address absenteeism and disengagement. A partnership with EveryDay Labs results in immediate-term recovery of students, increased school-family connection, and long-term resiliency of student enrollment and engagement.