June 12, 2024

The Transportation & Attendance Connection

A critical part of our attendance solutions include a live, multilingual Family Support Team and 24/7 Family Support Bot, which not only support our district partners’ families, but also surface myriad insights around the challenges that families and students face. We have found the top three barriers to attendance are mental health, physical health, and transportation challenges. Between bus driver shortages, long distances to school, work conflicts, and safety concerns, lack of steady transportation can be a huge blocker to regular attendance, and in turn, student success. In this piece, we’ll explore some creative ways schools and districts are working to get more students into class safely and right on time to maximize every opportunity to learn. 

Common Transportation Challenges

With many families working long hours and juggling the infinite to-do lists of our hectic modern lives, getting their students to school can feel like an insurmountable challenge. The classic yellow school bus has been a fixture for many generations, and research even shows its positive impact on student achievement. Nevertheless, particularly post-pandemic, this resource is facing challenges of its own. From less regular routes, longer stretches of time spent on the bus, and unchecked bullying, the bus has become a less appealing and trustworthy way to get to school. For some students, it can be yet another source of fatigue and stress, making it difficult to concentrate and actively participate in classroom activities. More and more affluent families are driving their children to school, and less affluent students often feel the bus is an extra hurdle to get through during an already arduous day. 

In some parts of the country, high crime rates can be another barrier to getting to school. When students and their families don’t feel safe getting to school, they may be more reluctant to show up every day, missing out on critical learning opportunities. All of these challenges contribute to increased absenteeism and tardiness, negatively impacting a student's academic progress. But it’s not time to give up just yet! 

Safe & Green Alternatives 

Many educators have already identified transportation as a formidable challenge to student success, and have put their heads together to find alternative ways to make the commute to school a little bit easier. Numerous schools and districts have organized their own initiatives that provide supervised walks or bike rides to school, and others, like our partners at Propel Schools, participate in the Safe Routes to School program, providing a safe and healthy way to get to school every day.   

Urban districts have also worked to expand the net for reliable transportation options for their school communities by working with their local transit authorities to get complimentary bus or train passes for students who are interested. In Denver, students rode the light rail and bus for free this year, and our partner district Cleveland Metro School District arranged for high schoolers to get free bus passes to bring them to school and around the city. 

Strategic Transportation Partners

Educators have more on their plates than ever before, which is why seeking out strategic partnerships for more reliable transportation can be a smart move. Some districts partner with organizations that specialize in coordinating carpools, like GoTogether or GoKid, and others like HopSkipDrive offer rides to school when bus driver shortages are a major blocker to reliable school transportation. Other organizations, like BusRight, help districts more efficiently manage bus routes and driver schedules and make catching the right bus easier for families. 

Spread the Word

After all of your hard work and investments, make sure that families know about these transportation resources! If you’re serious about improving attendance, you may also be considering a dedicated solution to complement your efforts. The EveryDay Labs attendance intervention features a 24/7 Family Support Bot that can connect families to your transportation resources. Additionally, the live, multilingual Family Support Team can also help connect families to information about your transportation options to help them get to school more often.

Chronic absenteeism is a formidable challenge to learning recovery nationwide, but mitigating barriers like transportation is an essential piece to any attendance improvement strategy. Looking for more on improving attendance? Check out these five ways to improve chronic absenteeism

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