Our final 2022 Attendance Awareness Campaign webinar, What Works to Sustain Attendance and Engagement?, highlighted the importance of utilizing attendance data to implement solutions that strengthen school attendance through increasing student and family engagement. Here’s a quick summary:
The panel of educational specialists, school administrators and other partners shared strategies for identifying and addressing the needs of their communities in order to better support student engagement and attendance following the challenges that emerged during the pandemic. Listen to the full webinar recording, and find the presentation slides and chat room summary here.
Hedy Chang, Attendance Works’ executive director, moderated the panel, and introductory remarks were presented by Kwesi Rollins, vice president for Leadership & Engagement at the Institute of Educational Leadership (IEL). Hedy shared the most recent national data and estimated that chronic absence rates doubled in the 2020-21 school year. She then clarified the difference between truancy and chronic absence.
Hedy identified Attendance Work’s multi-tiered system of support as a comprehensive approach to improving attendance. The three tiers of intervention – universal, early and intensive strategies – sit on top of foundational supports for the whole school. The foundational supports and three tiers build a systemic approach to student attendance and engagement grounded in a mindset of care and concern that is reinforced by the school, district and community.
Kari Sullivan Custer, an education consultant for chronic absence, attendance and truancy for the Connecticut State Dept. of Education shared the state’s chronic absence data and emphasized that clear definitions of attendance, surveys and providing monthly data shaped the state’s approach to addressing chronic absenteeism.
Francisco Baires, an education specialist for family engagement with the Capitol Region Education Council in Connecticut, described the state’s Learner Engagement Attendance Program (LEAP). The LEAP home visit series build positive relationships that focus on listening to the strengths, capabilities and hopes of families. The use of district attendance data over the past few years was crucial in identifying barriers, shaping which strategies were utilized and in increasing community and family engagement.
Charmayne Turner, vice president of operations for youth development at The Y in Central Maryland, explained how the use of a deep data dive, through a partnership with the Baltimore City Public Schools, provides community school attendance teams up-to-date data to use to effectively reach out to the students with the greatest needs. They have seen positive outcomes by utilizing a healing centered approach to engagement which focuses on responding in a way that is trauma responsive and focused on equity to build strong relationships with families.
Wendell Waukau, superintendent of the Menominee Indian School District in Wisconsin provided an overview of the long history of the Menominee Nation and the 1,000 students attending one of four public schools in the district. The district pulls from a Native American approach to holistic well-being known as the Medicine Wheel. Attendance data was used in response to the pandemic to create a robust 90-day plan that pulls support from the greater community and other organizations.
Many, many thanks to EveryDay Labs for its generous support of the 2022 Attendance Awareness Campaign and this webinar. We could not have held this event without their support!
EveryDay Labs, which uses behavioral science and proven family-school communication strategies to increase attendance and family engagement.
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