Beyond the Report Card: Part 2

College & Career Readiness, High School Success, Teachers & Principals | 09/30/2018

Katie Gustainis
Marketing & Communications Manager, Stand for Children Washington

This is part 2 of our blog series celebrating Attendance Awareness Month. Check out Part 1 here.

If parents sending their children to school can help prioritize daily attendance, how can a school be a good partner in support that student’s achievement?

What educators have at their fingertips that families don’t is the capacity to see patterns in a student’s behavior in digital form. Data is one of the powerful most tools that schools have to support student success.

In this time of ubiquitous computer access, more districts are keeping attendance online instead of on paper. This means that many schools now have the ability to track a student’s attendance in real-time in order to identify warning signs as soon as the first unexcused absence.

Fortunately, attendance data is not just a way to identify a problem – it’s also an opportunity to identify a solution. Research has shown that attendance can be a better predictor of student success than test scores. So schools that want to take aim at their attendance problems can now implement new solutions and closely track whether or not it’s working through their data systems.

According to a recently released report from Attendance Works, “Adopting a data-informed approach to motivate daily attendance as well as to address barriers to getting to school…local initiatives demonstrate the benefit of using data to activate prevention and early intervention strategies before students fall behind academically.”

The Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) recently spotlighted Grandview School District and their approach to reducing chronic absenteeism. Through a combination of schoolwide efforts, focused teams of educators, community and family partnerships, and investment in the district data systems, Grandview achieved a 28% reduction in their number of chronically absent students in just two years.

Grandview didn’t even realize they had a problem until they assessed their data: 21% of their elementary students were chronically absent. They owned the problem by investing in a data system and a culture that would prioritize data accuracy, and then they launched a campaign in their community to bring awareness to the importance of attendance. Students were encouraged to “Strive for Less Than 5” absences and there were incentive programs for students who met their goal. In just two years, they reduced the number of chronically absent students from 815 to 590, and now they have a goal of dropping down to no more than 499 this year. (View Grandview’s full presentation on the OSPI website).

When families and educators work together to prioritize attendance, the story in the data is that every student in Washington is getting the high-quality education they deserve. By raising our community’s collective awareness of its importance, everyone can get on the same page about how to best support our students when they need us most.

For more resources about how to improve attendance at school, check out OSPI’s Attendance Resource Page.

References:

Chang, Hedy N., Bauer, Lauren and Vaughan Byrnes, Data Matters: Using Chronic Absence to Accelerate Action for Student Success, Attendance Works and Everyone Graduates Center, September 2018.

OSPI, Attendance Awareness: Starting with Tier 1 Supports, September 2018.

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