Choosing the right intervention to address an attendance barrier is key to improving an individual’s, or a student group’s, attendance. But with large numbers of students missing too many days of school today, the reasons for absences are more numerous and varied.
While Attendance Works does not endorse commercial products, we think it is important to highlight how businesses can develop innovative approaches to promoting better attendance in schools. This blog describes one software company’s online platform that quickly identifies students at risk due to absenteeism, supports documentation of attendance barriers and then offers interventions. What’s more, the software can help districts and schools monitor attendance interventions so they can see whether they are being implemented in a timely manner.
RaaWee K12 Solutions, based in Plano, Texas has developed a collaborative platform to help schools and districts develop their own plans for improving attendance. The system enables everyone involved – students, caregivers, school and district administrators, teachers, child welfare services, etc. – to share information, attendance practices and progress. Known as RaaWee Attendance+, the system has three main components: prevention, data and interventions.
One key to preventing absences is creating a school environment that is welcoming with strong family engagement. The platform’s preventions components make it easy to create flyers. Districts and schools can include contact information about school services, events and vacation dates. Flyers can be printed and put in backpacks, or sent via email, text or even posted to the school’s social media platform.
RaaWee Attendance+ has a comprehensive data portal with ADA (Average Daily Attendance), absences, suspensions and enrollment, as well as ADA funding loss due to excused and unexcused absences. This data can be disaggregated, and shown for individual students as well as organized by class, grade, school campus or district. “We don’t just show them the numbers, we also take them to a deeper level, showing them which are the students contributing to these numbers,” said RaaWee CEO Saleem Qazi.
An important feature of the RaaWee system allows districts and schools to track the intervention. Reports enable attendance teams at any level to take stock of their interventions in real time. Teams can reassess the barrier, and consider another approach that might better address the student’s challenge. Interventions that aren’t working for any students can be dropped.
Dr. Chaunise Powell, who was Director of Student Services with East Side Union High School District, in San Jose, California, made use of the RaaWee Attendance+ during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The district began with outreach calls to families to verify whether a student absence was excused or unexcused. But as staff listened to families during the first year of the pandemic, they heard a variety of reasons for why students were not attending.
The district decided to shift the calls to screening tools. A new script was developed with clear protocols for attendance teams, allowing callers to check on mental or other health needs as well as basic needs, in addition to the reason for the absences. District or local resources were added to the script, so callers could offer information about services that address specific needs.
The district added to their family outreach with digital messaging. Flyers that described how to access a hotspot or where to pick up free or discounted food were opened more frequently than other messaging, said Powell, who is now the Executive Director, Youth Health & Wellness for Santa Clara County.
In 2019-20, the district-wide chronic absence rate was 19.8%. By October 2020-21, the district’s chronic absence rate was 12.8%, Powell said during a March 1, 2020 RaaWee webinar for partner districts. By focusing interventions on two or more student groups, the district saw chronic absence drop for those two student groups from 14.4% to 6.9% over the same period, Powell said.
Visit RaaWee 12 Solutions at https://raaweek12.com/ to learn more.