Working in Unprecedented Times

College & Career Readiness, Ninth Grade Success, Parent & Family Engagement | 09/25/2020

Laura Harney
Director of Enrollment & Community Engagement, Rocky Mountain Prep

How one Colorado Charter Network is Rethinking Attendance  

“We’re working in unprecedented times” is a new catch-phrase these days. At Rocky Mountain Prep, what that means is that we also have an unprecedented opportunity to rethink parts of education. One thing we have been enthusiastically rethinking is how we can best work in partnership with families in both remote and in-person learning settings. 

One way that we partner with families is through attendance. In a “normal” context, that looked like working with families to get their students to school and getting families and students invested in the why behind the purpose of attending school and how that connected to helping students reach their full potential. This year, with shifts made to how children learn around the world, we have the opportunity to rethink why attendance matters and what that can look like, particularly in the virtual context. 

We have been thinking about attendance through the Attendance Works framework of contact, relationships, connectivity, and participation. Read more about what we’re doing and how we’re seeking to improve.  


Graphic 1: From Attendance Works webinar 


Doing Well 

Shifting from paper to online registration, which led families to input their contact information directly. We now use SchoolMessenger for communication that directly connects with our student information system. 

Working to Improve  

Identifying additional phone numbers needed to support scholars. Many families are having alternative caretakers support with remote learning and there are times we need not only the parent/guardian’s contact info but also childcare and daycare. 


Doing Well 

Large investment in Chromebooks and hotspots and streamlined our platforms. Students now only need to access platforms through one log-in and one website. 

Working to Improve 

Continuing to check in with families and doing intentional home visits and/or conversations to get to the core of what the challenges are.  

We also can work to advocate for universal internet. 


Doing Well 

“Readiness Conversations” All teachers called all families before school began to make sure that families felt set-up for success. They were able to check that all materials, log-in information, and schedules were clear and could solve challenges together. 

Internal tech ticket system Teachers can submit and get issues resolved within 48 hours that they were unable to solve during “readiness conversations.” 

 Launched Possip This is a bi-weekly family satisfaction survey to support our schools to more quickly identify trends. We then follow-up with individuals or the whole school community with celebrations and areas to improve. 

Working to Improve 

Wellness check-ins with families and launching virtual home visits. Now that we have started doing more synchronous learning and need to adjust to also launch into in-person learning there is less teacher time available to make personalized calls to families to build relationships. We are working to find ways to repurpose time for relationship building and problem-solving.  

 We are also working to launch our family leadership teams and host community-building virtual events once we get in-person learning started safely. 


Doing Well 

We take attendance for all of our synchronous learning and can access log-in information for students to know the amount of time they’ve engaged with platforms. 

Working to Improve  

Improve family access to their scholar’s progress. We want to better clarify for families how to progress monitor on their own and set up bi-weekly or monthly check-ins with the students. 

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