Chronic Absenteeism: How Should Educators Intervene?

Posted by Jeff Watson on Dec 21, 2017 11:27:21 AM



Chronic absenteeism can only be corrected when teachers, administrators, parents, and students work together.


Once educators and administrators are aware of what qualifies as chronic absenteeism and how to spot it, the next step is to take action.


Let’s take a closer look at some strategies for correcting chronic absenteeism.


It Takes a Village


Strategies for addressing chronic absenteeism often focus on building connections between the student and the school community. Strategies also focus on the whole child, and just as often they focus on looking at attendance through a systemic lens. There are several resources on the web that are a great way to jump-start your organization’s response to a chronic absenteeism challenge.


Attendance Works prescribes several specific interventions based on the one’s role — including resources for all types of stakeholders (including community partners). Be sure to check out this this inspiring video about how teachers can make a difference.


The What Works Clearinghouse lists a variety of evidence-based interventions as well. The interventions listed here really take on a systemic view of the attendance (and more generally behavior). I think this is a great starting place for district staff looking to adopt interventions at scale.


The California Department of Education takes a no-nonsense, practical approach to chronic absenteeism. For example, one strategy for correction is to involve a variety of members of the student’s community. Likewise, teachers should discuss chronic absences with parents or guardians, whether by phone, e-mail or by making home visits. Even with excused absences, teachers should still discuss them with the appropriate adult stakeholders once they meet chronic status.


Sometimes, interventions can be informed by taking a bird’s eye view of the problem. An example of this is using Hoonuit’s geospatial mapping capabilities to examine where chronically absent students live in relation to bus stops and routes. A district or school could even send out school staff to those areas to help make sure students are actually getting on the bus.


If a student is absent from school because of physical or mental health issues, teachers may want to involve a school nurse or guidance counselor. Classroom teachers are on the front lines of spotting chronic absences, but they are not alone in addressing and accommodating student issues. The National Association of School Nurses released a series of white papers about how school nurses can play a critical role in providing and coordinating services that reduce absenteeism.


Other common sense best practices include:

  • Set goals and reward attendance
  • Ensure no student is left behind
  • Make school a safe place to learn


The Bottom Line


As educators and administrators work to resolve chronic absenteeism, it’s necessary to use data strategically. Attendance data can help identify students who are not coming to school. Other data points can help identify why they are not coming to school. Keeping track of interventions and on-going attendance rates will help educators know what is working and what strategies might need further adjustment. Solutions like Hoonuit provide an intuitive, centralized platform where educators can manage attendance records over time and other data that can help show patterns and lead to effective interventions. Click here to learn more about how Hoonuit’s Early Warning solution can help your district identify — and solve for — chronic absenteeism.


[UPDATE] Explore this topic further in my related posts: 


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Topics : Connected Educator, Early Warning & Intervention