How to Address Absenteeism
When districts create––or reestablish––trust with the community, they open gateways for collaborative relationships with families and students. The best way districts encourage family involvement is through accessible two-way school-home communication to help families feel included and able to participate. Communications that provide automatic intervention and send positive reinforcement to families have the strongest impact on both district and student success.
SchoolStatus Attend is the most effective way for districts to tackle chronic absenteeism. This data-driven attendance management platform is proven to increase daily attendance and reduce administrative overhead. By reducing the time spent on attendance management by up to 75%, districts can refocus their energy on family engagement and student support.
The Sanger Unified School District’s Recovery After the Pandemic
In the 2021-22 school year, 31% of students in the Sanger Unified School District were chronically absent. In the 2022-23 school year, chronic absenteeism decreased to 17%.
With over 13,600 students in the district, one has to wonder: how did they get so many students back?
True to the district’s vision “all students will have equitable access to learning with options and opportunities to be successful and achieve their dreams,” Superintendent Dr. Dennis Wiechmann partnered with SchoolStatus to implement the attendance tools the district needed.
There are 22 highly recognized schools in the Sanger Unified School District, which includes the city of Sanger, Centerville, Del Rey, Fairmont, Lone Star, Tivy Valley and portions of the Sunnyside area of metropolitan Fresno, California. The district includes 14 elementary sites, a middle school, two comprehensive high schools, four K-8 and one K-12 school of choice. In addition, there is an alternative education continuation school, a community day school, and an adult school.
Meeting the needs of hundreds of families, administrators, and educators is an enormous undertaking, but Dr. Wiechmann was up to the challenge. It might seem impossible to reach everyone with such a diverse population in a community spanning over 180 square miles. But, by utilizing a unified platform for attendance tracking and automated, proactive communication to families, Sanger Unified School District saw improvement in attendance in a matter of weeks. As schools throughout California—and across the nation—continue to tackle chronic absenteeism, Sanger is a true example of success.
Larger Reports of Absenteeism in California
At the request of the California Board of Education, SchoolStatus (formerly School Innovations & Achievement) produced a report on the state of chronic absenteeism in California. Analyzing attendance for nearly 325,000 PK-12 students in 30 districts between March 2022 to March 2023, we found that consistent school-home communication and data-informed systemic interventions were vital for improving student attendance.
As Erica Peterson, SchoolStatus National Education Manager and a co-author of the report said, “We know that school attendance is the number one predictor of student success, which underscores the urgency of finding effective interventions for the growing rate of chronic absenteeism in U.S. schools.” She continued, “Interventions focused on areas such as school-home communication and relationship building need to be prioritized as districts work to support good attendance habits and get students back on track academically.”
Key findings from Chronic Absence Patterns Across California Schools include:
- The number of hours chronically absent students are missing is increasing. Nearly a third of public school students in the sample were chronically absent—meaning that as of late March 2023, they had missed 10% or more of the school year.
- Students included in the sample missed a total of more than 15 million hours of learning time from 2022 to 2023.
- Historically marginalized student groups continue to have higher rates of absenteeism—and the differences in attendance rates by student groups are growing. This has implications for equity when considering academic recovery.
- Increased, positive communication between school and home, as well as data-informed systemic interventions, are effective for addressing absenteeism.
- Transition years are key grades to prioritize for building good attendance habits. Early intervention and outreach in these grades help to ensure smooth transitions as students progress in their academic careers.
- Elevated absence rates in Kindergarten show that family education on the importance of attendance in early learning is critical.
SchoolStatus and School Innovations & Achievement (SI&A) joined forces in 2022 to provide powerful, unified, data-informed attendance solutions for schools and districts across the country. Combining SI&A’s 20+ years of research-driven attendance management with SchoolStatus’ robust, innovative communications and data solutions enables us to help thousands of districts realize dramatic increases in attendance.
Find out how SchoolStatus can help your district:
- Reduce chronic absenteeism
- Decrease administrative overhead
- Engage more families
- Break through digital clutter
- Understand attendance trends in you district, at a glance
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