March 12, 2024

Transforming Data into Action: 4 Strategies for Data-Driven Attendance Improvement

So much of learning recovery hinges on better student attendance. But among competing priorities, is addressing absenteeism rising to the top of your list? Taking a closer look at both your average daily attendance and chronic absenteeism rates is essential. Without a holistic view of the numbers, it’s hard to grasp a full understanding of the challenge, and building a strong strategy to properly address it is just downright impossible. In this post, we’ll explore four strategies for improving student outcomes through a lens of attendance & data insights.

1. Unravel ADA & Chronic Absenteeism 

Many district leaders are still looking at Average Daily Attendance (ADA) rates and feel encouraged to see them hover around the low-mid 90s. However, just looking at ADA does not tell the full story

Average daily attendance is the average percentage of students present each day, over the course of the entire school year. Chronic absenteeism is defined by a student missing 10% or more of school days. 

Even when overall average daily attendance rates look high enough, there can be a chronic absenteeism crisis if a significant percentage of the absences is from the same group of students missing school regularly, as opposed to most students missing a couple of days throughout the year. It’s similar to the way that a high average 8th grade math score can overshadow the students who are struggling and need extra help.

This conundrum was recently explored in this Hechinger Report piece, arguing that the misunderstanding of chronic absenteeism rates is what’s driving the complacency some district leaders have around attendance. 

Having access to a dashboard that shows the most up-to-date insights is an essential first step to a more complete understanding of your district’s attendance challenges. Some dashboards, like EveryDay Pro, make this data quickly accessible to help you launch into the next steps of your attendance improvement journey. 

Notice in this snapshot from EveryDay Pro, from September to October, the ADA stayed the same, but the chronic absenteeism rate increased by 11.5%!

2. Go Beyond Averages

Watching school and district-wide attendance and chronic absenteeism rates is essential. However, honing in on student data is the key to effectively identifying and supporting the students who need extra support, and determining the right course of action. Utilize your student information system (SIS) or attendance dashboard to uncover a more complete story. Look for patterns in:

  • Frequency and type of absences: Excused absences might indicate underlying health concerns, while unexcused absences could point towards different challenges.
  • Specific days or weeks: Are absences concentrated on Mondays or Fridays, around holidays, or during specific subjects? EveryDay Pro automatically flags students who miss specific days of the week, making it easier to take necessary action. 
  • Individual student trends: Track individual absences over time to identify students experiencing a gradual increase or sudden changes in attendance patterns. In EveryDay Pro, you can quickly see whether students are trending up or down in attendance. 

3. Leverage Data Proactively

Don't wait for chronic absenteeism to become a problem. Look for early warning signs like:

  • Missing more than 2-3 days in a month
  • Frequent tardiness
  • Incomplete assignments coinciding with absences

Proactive analysis of attendance data can be time consuming, particularly when you already have so much on your plate. An attendance intervention that works on your behalf can be incredibly helpful here. For example, EveryDay Intervention monitors attendance data for all students across your district, and sends attendance nudges via mail and text to families of students who are chronically absent or at risk of becoming chronically absent, helping them get back on track for success. By working from early indicators, you can proactively intervene before issues escalate and become even more difficult to address.

4. Transform Insights into Action

Once you’ve gained a full understanding of the schools and students who need support, it’s time to execute timely and supportive interventions and campaigns. This can include: 

  • Friendly Family Outreach & Individualized Support: A barrier assessment could be well indicated here to help you further understand what may be getting in the way of regular attendance and to determine the right resources that can make it easier for students to get to school more often. 

Without a complete understanding of your district’s attendance challenges and bright spots, you’re flying blind! But with the right data tools informing your approach paired with personalized support and expertise, you’ll be well on your way to helping more students and their families overcome attendance challenges and thrive in their academic pursuits and relationships in school and beyond.For more data-driven attendance support, check out our evidence-based suite of solutions

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