Improving Attendance: It Takes a Village

Regular school attendance is a major factor in student success. Those with chronic absenteeism are more likely to fall behind in reading, score lower on standardized tests, not graduate high school, and not attend college.  

To improve attendance, it takes a village—of students, families, faculty, and administrators all stepping in to make a difference. These four tips are a good place to start to get everyone on the same page.

  1. Enlist a team. Assign a team of teacher leaders to a group specifically tasked with paying close attention to attendance trends by focusing on data, parent engagement activities, student behavior, and family support systems.
  2. Understand—and actually use—data. Look outside the walls of your school by using district data to supplement the data you record in your school.
  3. Communicate with families. Research shows many parents don’t see a connection between attendance and achievement. Don’t wait until there’s a problem to address it. Communicate regularly with students’ families via informative posts on social media, stories in a digital newsletter, or during in-person meetings on the school campus.
  4. Make sure students know what’s at stake. Get creative when it comes to letting students know just how much regular attendance will increase their chances of success in life. Sometimes just telling them about the effects doesn’t sink in. Seeing is believing. Let them use attendance calculators. 

Attendance Works has categorized its resource section into three topics:

  • Positive Engagement: Find attendance videos, exercises, incentives, messaging, posters and banners, handouts for families, student attendance success plans, teen and family plans, and resources to help with spring attendance slumps.
  • Actionable Data: Find data tools to calculate chronic absence and classroom attendance as well as data to help protect student privacy.
  • Building Capacity: Find information on addressing barriers, self-assessments, teaching attendance curriculum, webinars, and yearlong planning documents.

Share the Word

This year, NAESP is proud to partner with Attendance Works—a national and state initiative that pushes for better policy and practice to improve school attendance—to spread the word about the effect chronic absence has on students. Join us in September as we celebrate Attendance Awareness Month.

Be sure to focus on attendance the rest of the year, too. Attendance Works offers a suite of tools—from planning documents, sample activities, and more—educators can download for free. Check out the resource section on the Attendance Works website. It’s got tips for positive engagement, tools to calculate chronic absence, and information on addressing barriers and teaching attendance curriculum.

Find links to all of these tools and resources you can put to use right away in your school on the Attendance Works website.