Teachers and early education providers play a key role in reducing chronic absence by teaching children – and reinforcing to families and caregivers – the importance of regular attendance for well-being and learning. Teachers witness how absences can disrupt learning, not just for the absent student but also for the entire classroom. They can emphasize attendance from Day One, use parent teacher conferences to talk about attendance, and support a classroom or school-wide culture of attendance. Preschool, Head Start and kindergarten teachers can incorporate attendance into kindergarten transition activities.
Principals set the tone for the entire school, ensuring that students, families/caregivers and teachers know that attendance matters. That message can be conveyed by greeting families every morning, sending letters home, organizing home visits, and having teachers call or record personalized robocalls. Principals can call for the district to provide the data needed to identify students at risk for chronic absence who may be in need of support. They can also help identify and address systemic barriers and provide professional development to teachers.
Superintendents play a pivotal role in monitoring and improving school attendance. Local superintendents can proclaim their support and help launch their local attendance awareness efforts by signaling a commitment to own the issue and mobilize the community.
School boards can make improving engagement and reducing chronic absence a key policy objective and hold superintendents accountable for taking action. They can commission chronic absence reports and use the results to determine allocation of resources to support schools or student groups with attendance challenges. They can also use chronic absence as a metric for school or superintendent success.
Chief state school officers can also help advance awareness and action to improve student engagement and attendance. They can use their position as a bully pulpit, promote participation in the Attendance Awareness Campaign, produce and release statewide reports and encourage local superintendents to commit to reducing chronic absence.
Photo by Allison Shelley for EDUimages. License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/