Does Attendance Really Count in Our School?

A Tool for Self Assessment - (Revised Spring, 2010)
(Note: Chronic absence = missing 10% or more of school for any reason including excused and unexcused absences. It is different from and can be masked by truancy (unexcused absences) or average daily attendance (the percent of students who show up to school each day).
Key Element 1. Every day, in every class, teachers take roll accurately in a caring manner. 2. Attendance data is entered daily into an electronic data base that can generate regular reports on average daily attendance, chronic absence & truancy. 3. An attendance team meets regularly to review data to identify problematic and positive attendance patterns by grade, population of students and classroom . 4. Our school tracks and reaches out to chronically absent students and their families to see how attendance could be improved. 5. Students with excessive excused absences are required to provide a doctor’s note. 6. Individual learning plans are developed for high-risk students exhibiting poor academic performance and/or poor attendance. 7. Our school partners with community agencies that can help reach out and offer resources to help chronically absent students and their families 8. An effective school wide system of attendance incentives is in place. 9. Our school informs parents about the importance of attendance, works with parents to identify common barriers and encourages parents to help each other get their children to school. 10. Our strategies for supporting student 1 Streng th OK for Now Could Be Better Urgent Gap Don’t Know Implication(s) for Action

attendance are reflected in our school improvement plan. TOTAL

Additional Information
Key Element 1. Every day, in every class, teachers take roll accurately in a caring manner. 2. Attendance data is entered daily into an electronic data base that can generate regular reports on average daily attendance, chronic absence and truancy. 3. Our school has an attendance team that regularly meets and reviews . attendance data to identify problematic and positive patterns by grade, population of students and classroom. What does this mean? Teachers take time and care to take roll every day (and for every class in middle and high school.) Students quickly notice if teachers express concern if they were absent. Ideally, schools should be able to review attendance data reports on at least a monthly if not weekly basis so they can detect trends early. All three measures—average daily attendance, chronic absence and truancy— offer important insights. The attendance team should include key stakeholders (principal, attendance clerk, parent liaison, social worker or nurse) who can bring important and diverse perspectives to bear when interpreting attendance data. It should meet at least twice a month. High levels of chronic absence can be used to recognize problems in need of intervention while good attendance data can be used to identify promising practices worth replication. A list of chronically absent students should be generated daily or, at least, weekly. Outreach could be conducted by a teacher, an attendance clerk, or even a trained parent volunteer—as long as there is a clear procedure. Outreach should begin by finding out what the family says are the reasons for the chronic absence (e.g. illness, transportation, extended vacation, child doesn’t like school or feels bullied etc.) 2 Reflections: What’s working? challenging? What’s

4. Our school reaches out to chronically absent students and their families to see how attendance could be improved.

Key Element

What does this mean? Developing solutions requires knowing the issues that contribute to poor attendance Such a policy helps clarify whether the absences are truly due to illness and should therefore be excused vs. truant. When students exhibit high risks then parents, teachers, staff from partnering community agencies and students themselves should work together to develop and agree upon an individual learning plan. Attendance and academic performance should be explicitly explored and addressed. A variety of community resources are known to support improved attendance (afterschool programming, health services, pre-K programs, help with accessing tax credits or other income supports, etc.) Sometimes these partners are in a better position to reach out to families because, for example, afterschool providers have a different relationship to parents. An understanding of critical barriers to attendance can inform which partnerships are most needed. Low-cost attendance incentives, whether they are material (such as pencil or popcorn parties) or emotional (acknowledgement in class, at morning assembly or in the school newsletter, extra recess time, opportunities to dress casually if uniforms are required) are known to work, especially if they are part of a school wide approach to creating a culture of going to school regularly. Keep in mind the importance of rewarding improved attendance, not just perfect attendance. Staff plays a key role in educating parents about the adverse consequence of chronic

Reflections: What’s working? challenging?

What’s

5. Students with excessive excused absences are required to provide a doctor’s note. 6. Individual learning plans are developed with high risk students exhibiting poor academic performance and/or poor attendance.

7. Our school partners with community agencies who can help reach out and offer resources to help chronically absent students and their families.

8. An effective schoolwide system of attendance incentives .

9. Our school informs parents about the importance of

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Key Element attendance, works with parents to identify common barriers and encourages parents to help each other get their children to school.

What does this mean? absence and offering tips for how to avoid missing school. Information can be offered through parent workshops, parent/teacher conferences and written communications. Attendance workshops can combine advice from an expert with opportunities for sharing strategies and problem-solving among parents. Parents also can offer critical information about barriers to attendance commonly faced by students at the school. Every year, typically in the Spring, schools are required to develop a plan for improving student achievement, accompanied by a budget for how resources will be used to carry out this plan. To be sustainable, strategies for improving attendance and reducing chronic absences should be reflected in this plan.

Reflections: What’s working? challenging?

What’s

10. Our plans to support student attendance are incorporated into our school improvement plans.

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