Three Ways You Can Improve Truancy in Your District
Truancy, just like chronic absenteeism, can have a negative impact on student academic achievement, social-emotional development, and overall success. While chronic absenteeism, for good reason, has been a hot topic these days, state governments still mandate that districts address truancy with specific legal guidelines and sometimes devastating consequences. But there’s much that can be done to improve and get ahead of truancy challenges. Here are three strategies to keep at the forefront as you work to mitigate truancy in your district.
1. Strong family-school partnerships & communications
When families and schools work together, they create a support system that can meaningfully reinforce the value of consistent attendance. This is done best through a multi-faceted plan that includes:
- Clear communication: Have attendance expectations and policies been clearly communicated to families so that they know who to contact when their student is absent? How seamless is the experience — are both lines of communication open? This can prevent a sizable amount of unexcused absences that could have easily been excused. Don’t be afraid to over-communicate and utilize a multi-channel approach with email, phone calls, texts, newsletters, home visits, and parent-teacher conferences that welcome conversation and feedback.
- Family Support: Poverty, homelessness, family instability, and mental health issues can all contribute to truancy challenges. Working with families and community partners to address these underlying issues is essential. Don’t underestimate the power of sending family-centered truancy letters that offer support and remind families that they have the power to turn their students’ attendance around.
- Parent Involvement: Foster a sense of belonging and responsibility by inviting families to be active participants in their child's education. This can be done through welcoming community events, extracurricular activities and volunteer opportunities, whether big or small, that honors every family’s unique contributions as well as time constraints.
2. Nurture a restorative school climate
A supportive environment where students are excited to learn every day is crucial in reducing truancy rates and addressing its root causes. But as districts continue to mitigate the fallout of pandemic closures, nurturing a positive school climate with close relationships and a sense of belonging can remain a challenge. Here are some strategies to cultivate a restorative school climate:
- Relationship Building: Prioritize the establishment of positive relationships between teachers and students. Encourage trust and mutual respect through activities like morning check-ins, advisory periods, and restorative circles.
- Conflict Resolution: Implement restorative justice practices to resolve conflicts and address disciplinary issues. These practices focus on understanding the harm caused, repairing relationships, and promoting personal growth, rather than simply administering punishments.
- Student Support Services: Provide access to counseling, mentoring, and other support services to address the underlying issues that may contribute to truancy. EveryDay Intervention’s Family Support Bot and Family Support Team are a great way to quickly connect all families with the district and community resources they need, like mental health support.
3. Implement proactive attendance practices
Whether it’s a question of health or attendance, prevention is usually the best cure. A proactive approach to attendance can reduce all absences, excused and unexcused. Some strategies include:
- Early Warning Systems: Data tracking systems like EveryDay Pro help identify students who are at risk of chronic absenteeism and make it easy to regularly monitor attendance patterns, intervene early, and provide additional support to prevent further absences. A low lift intervention that leverages mail and text nudges like EveryDay Intervention can also keep families informed on their student’s attendance and connect them to resources to help get them back on track.
- Positive Reinforcement: Recognize and celebrate students with good and improved attendance to motivate others. Implement attendance competitions, rewards programs, and incentives to encourage consistent attendance and punctuality. Attendance doesn’t have to be perfect to be celebrated- small improvements are big wins!
- Targeted Interventions: Develop personalized intervention plans for students with persistent attendance issues. Collaborate with families, counselors, and community organizations to identify barriers and provide necessary resources and support.
Improving truancy rates requires a comprehensive approach that leverages strong family-school partnerships, a restorative school climate, and proactive attendance practices. By fostering proactive, open communication and building strong relationships, families and students can get the support and encouragement needed to maximize their learning opportunities and get back on track to achieving their full potential.
Looking for a low-lift truancy solution that works at scale across your entire district? Check out the new Truancy Support!