Here are resources and strategies to help increase school attendance. Together we can reduce absenteeism by incorporating a national best practice model to:
- Monitor attendance data and practices to identify students who are at-risk or chronically missing school and determine what targeted interventions work best for each student
- Implement coordinated school and community-based strategies connecting local resources and schools so together we can address student attendance
- Incorporate universal message promoting school attendance with staff, students and the community
- Engage students and families and provide personalized early outreach
- Track and monitor effectiveness
The materials are designed for you to use and modify based on the needs of your community. If you would like any documents in Microsoft Word or Publisher, please contact Susan Lieberman
- Strategies For Success: Here is a general list of strategies that can be used in your district, individual school or community. These strategies are based on research as well as feedback from students, school staff and families.
- Examples of Attendance Strategies and Interventions: These interventions have supported students who were absent between eight to twenty-five percent of school days (approximately 14 to 40 days a year). Students with this level of at-risk or chronic absenteeism are likely to respond to lower cost and less intensive interventions.
- Tiered Strategies to Reduce Chronic Absenteeism: This handout is intended to help a school or district address chronic absenteeism and think about alignment between strategies and level of student need.
- Why Attendance Matters: A one page overview on why attendance matters and what families can do to help get their children ready for school. This can be shared in a newsletter or as a separate flyer. Also available in French, Khmer, Somali, and Vietnamese.
- Attendance Matters, Key Messages to Share: This is a list of topics or messages you can include as part of the school newsletter.
- Be An Attendance Hero: A slogan created by MSAD 6 Principal Kim O'Donnell. It can be added to certificates for good or improved attendance or made into postcards that are used to send congratulatory notes to students and families about good attendance.
- Example of School Newsletters: Keep the Conversation Going! Here are some examples of messages about school attendance you can include as part of the school newsletter. Harpswell Comunity School
- Brochure To Promote School Attendance: This brochure can be shared with families in the beginning of the school year and/or kindergarten orientation. The template focuses on the importance of school attendance. It is designed so you can include your school contact information and logo. The brochure is now available in Arabic, Chinese, French, Portuguese, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
- Engage Families Early: Begin partnering with families early in the school year. A key step to building a positive relationship between families and schools is through the child’s teacher.
- Establish a Positive Relationship: In addition to the “robo calls” that are made the morning the student is absent, families appreciate a call from the teacher who can ask about their child and let them know their child was missed. These calls can occur after the child has missed 1 to 3 days and then again when the child has missed 4 to 6 days.
- Take a Strengths-Based Approach: Don't assume that parents don't care if a child is chronically absent. They may care deeply. Ask about what they do with their child that works. Share positive activities their child is involved.
- Remember Parent Engagement is an On-Going Process, not a one time event: Creating on-going opportunities for conversation with parents invites them to partner in creating solutions.
Examples of attendance letters sent home after the initial one or two calls have already been made. The focus is on working in partnership with the family.
- Teacher's Letter After Student Missed 10 Days: A teacher describes how she misses the student at school and shares her concern about the student losing out on 10 days of learning.
- Principal's Attendance Letter After Student Missed 10 or More Days: This letter identifies the school's growing concern about a student's absences but focuses on building a partnership with the family. It was written by a Principal from RSU 14.
- Superintendent's Letter: This Superintendent customized his letter to a family acknowledging their challenges but also action steps to address the student's attendance.
- Postcards/Letters: Attendance Matters and You Can Help! The postcard was adapted from a study that found absences decreased when parents were sent a postcard three times a year stating the number of days their child was absent. The note asked families to partner with the school. For more information on the study: A Randomized Experiment Using Absenteeism Information to "Nudge" Attendance by Rogers, T. et al., National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. Thanks to supporters of Count ME In, these letters are now translated and available in Arabic, Chinese, French, Portuguese, Somali, Spanish and Vietnamese
- Letter: Attendance Matters and You Can Help! The letter includes the content from the postcard plus ideas on what families can do every day to help their child get ready for school . The letter was written by the MSAD 6 Principal from Buxton Center Elementary.
- Principal's "Middle of the Year" Attendance Letter: Here is a letter which focuses on school attendance that was written by a Principal from MSAD 75 and sent in January. It can be adapted to any time of the year.
Examples of holiday and pre-vacation letters focused on the importance of attending school every day.
- Holiday Letter: A letter thanking families for helping their children arrive at school every day ready to learn and reminding families when vacations begin and end.
- School Vacation and Attendance Letter: This letter can be sent home prior to vacations to remind families the importance of being in school when school is in session. It was adapted from Attendance Works.
- Engaging Families Info Sheet offers simple steps and ideas school staff and community organizations can follow when building partnerships with families because connecting with families results in better outcomes. It was developed by families through Community Partners for Protecting Children, a program of The Opportunity Alliance. For more information and other ideas go to Community Partnerships for Protecting Children.
- Helping Families Ask Good Questions highlights a simple process that enables families to identify what they want to know instead of the old approach of telling families what they should know. A short article by Luz Santana in ASCD.
- Six Types of Parental Involvement: Based on research from Joyce Epstein and the National Network for Partnership Schools, this is a framework for 6 types of involvement.
- Framing the Conversation to Build A Relationship of Trust: This framework/guide adapted from Attendance Works offers an approach on how to lay the groundwork for reviewing absences during Parent-Teacher-Student Conferences. The connection between the teacher and the family is crucial to building good attendance habits. The conferences are a natural opportunity to talk about student attendance and its implications for learning.
- Student Attendance Plan: This attendance plan can be completed by students. It was developed by Sarah Harris, principal at Vance Village in New Britain, Conn for students who were chronically absent. Every week, she meets with students for a "lunch bunch" when the students develop and review their weekly attendance goals. Rewards can include 10 minutes of extra time doing something the child chooses such as time in the gym or art room.
- Elementary Student Success Plan and Secondary Student Success Plan: The student success plan was designed to help parents track their children's attendance and secondary students track their own attendance. It provides a tool for parents and students to partner with staff to develop goals and identify supports. It includes a 2017-18 school year calendar that can help students and families view the number of absences during the year. The success plan was adapted with permission from Attendance Works.
- High School Attendance Plan: This high school plan was developed at Massabesic High School in Waterboro. It was designed to facilitate discussion with the high school student and his/her parents about the reasons the student is absent and the steps everyone can take to help support the student getting to school.
- Guide for Students who are Transient Created By Students. Students who move and change schools at least once during the school year, frequently have high rates of absenteeism. These checklists are designed by students for elementary, middle and high school students who are transitioning to a new school, anytime during the year. The checklists offer a guiding list of questions to help orient the new student to school so they feel welcome, connected, and continue to attend every day. Click on the grade level to access the checklist.
- The staff checklist helps school staff, families and case workers facilitate a smooth transition for students.