The 3 C’s of Attendance Policy: Concise, Clear, & Communicated
Perhaps you have heard the saying “Ask, believe, receive.” When it comes to reducing absenteeism, this idea is not just the “Law of Attraction” at work, but a building block for a policy that drives attendance. Better attendance begins with a clear and concise ask. A strong attendance policy makes it easier for students and families to understand what is asked of them, ways their school is there to support, and how together you’ll build a positive school climate where students are actively engaged in their academic journey.
What makes an attendance policy effective? Read on to discover how you can improve student attendance in the new school year with an attendance policy that is concise in messaging, clear in what it asks, and well-communicated to the entire school community.
We’ve all heard it before: less is more. Straightforward policies are more likely to be understood and followed by students, families, and educators alike. Unnecessary complexity can contribute to confusion and an inadvertent lack of compliance.
Consider these points as you write your concise attendance policy:
1. Outline expectations: State attendance requirements and expectations. Define what constitutes excused and unexcused absences and how many absences are allowed before intervention steps are taken. And highlight district resources that can help families meet these expectations.
2. Define consequences: Articulate what families can expect when a student reaches a certain threshold of absences and outline the interventions implemented to support better attendance. It’s not just about breaking the rules: emphasize that every day missed is a missed opportunity to learn, whether it’s an excused or unexcused absence.
3. Acknowledge special circumstances: Life happens, and you’re there to help. Provide a process families should follow in extenuating circumstances that easily allow them to appeal or provide documentation for absences due to emergencies or significant life events.
“Clear is kind.” In our modern, hectic worlds, most of us are skimming for the important information, if we read at all! A clear attendance policy leaves no room for misinterpretation and helps avoid confusion and disputes. Consider the following as you create your clear attendance policy:
1. Language and terminology: Use simple language, avoiding unnecessary legal jargon that might confuse parents and students. A great tool to check your work for accessibility is the Fleish-Kincaid readability test.
2. Role clarity: Identify the roles of teachers, administrators, families, and students in maintaining good attendance. When everyone understands their responsibilities, you’ll see more seamless and effective collaboration.
3. Reporting protocols: Outline how attendance will be recorded and communicated back to students and families. Emphasize internally to your teams the importance of accurate and timely reporting to keep everyone informed.
After working so hard on your clear and concise attendance policy, don’t phone in the last step: strong communication! Consider these steps for a comprehensive & effective communication strategy:
1. Family and student orientation: At the beginning of the school year, hold orientation sessions to thoroughly explain the attendance policy, inviting questions and offering clarifications.
2. Multi-channel communication: Utilize school websites, emails, and social media to share your attendance policy regularly, and include reminders throughout the year around the importance of attendance and the resources available for support.
3. Teacher collaboration: Encourage teachers to discuss the attendance policy during their own conversations with families, whether during phone calls or family-teacher conferences. Teachers are one of the most trusted figures for families, and their buy-in and emphasis on the importance of attendance is highly impactful.
A well-designed attendance policy is crucial for setting your students and families up for success this school year. By making sure your attendance policy is concise, clear, and communicated, you will be well on your way to building a welcoming school climate where students want to learn every day.
Looking for more ways to improve attendance across your entire district? Check out our proven-effective solutions.