This toolkit is designed with four main audiences in mind:
National organizations can build attendance into their own communities as well as encourage their members to address this issue by increasing awareness of why chronic absence matters and promoting strategies to incorporate attendance into current activities and metrics. Groups can also sign on as coordinating partners.
Teachers, principals, superintendents and school boards who see the corrosive effects of absenteeism in their schools. The toolkit provides tailored materials for dealing with attendance in back-to- school letters, meetings and at parent-teacher conferences.School superintendents can sign on to the Superintendents Call to Action sponsored by Attendance Works and the other Attendance Awareness convening partners. With support from school boards, they own the issue, drive with data and mobilize the community.
Any community group or agency that works with families and can deliver positive messages about why going to school every day is so important for success in school and life. It could, for instance, be a doctor’s office, a housing authority, a faith-based institution, a preschool or an after-school program. Our hope is that you will use this toolkit to determine how to build these messages into your communications and everyday interactions starting in September.
Local leaders and organizations can convene and engage the entire community in working together to address school attendance. If the resources and conditions are ripe for a community campaign, collaboration can lead to greater impact. Among the leaders who are well positioned to spearhead a campaign are:
Mayors and other local elected leaders can demonstrate their commitment to partnering with schools to improve educational outcomes, since good schools are essential to a strong local economy.
Chief state school officers and other leaders can use their bully pulpit for spreading the word about the importance of going to school every day and promoting Attendance Awareness Month.
Chambers of Commerce can demonstrate their commitment to the local community and the need to promote the development of skills that will be needed in the future workforce.
Local philanthropy and United Way chapters can convene grantees and community partners around an issue that is easy to understand and monitor.
Everybody has a role to play: parents, schools, healthcare providers, city agencies, nonprofits and foundations, after school programs, businesses, faith leaders and others. To find specific ideas for each of these groups click here.
In New Britain, Connecticut, the school district’s focus on attendance in elementary school reduced chronic absence rates by double digits. The biggest drop came in kindergarten, where rates fell from 30 to 13%; reading scores also improved. The district’s approach informed a statewide initiative to hold struggling districts accountable for improving attendance.
In Marshalltown, Iowa the Grade Level Reading Campaign’s use of the Perfectly Punctual Campaign significantly increased attendance among preschoolers with a program of family activity nights to help parents create nighttime and morning routines. Students delighted in classroom visits from ￼Punctual Pete, a bilingual costumed character that looks like a giant clock.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is working on a policy statement that will discuss the connection between chronic school absence and health and the role pediatricians can play in improving school attendance. Once the policy statement is published it will be available for free online even for those who are not AAP members.