Contents for Attendance Awareness Communications Toolkit
WHAT THIS TOOLKIT IS, HOW TO USE IT AND WHEN
Attendance works is a national and state initiative that promotes better policy and practice around school attendance. We promote tracking chronic absence data for each student beginning in kindergarten, or ideally earlier, and partnering with families and community agencies to intervene when poor attendance is a problem for students or schools.
Attendance Works has three objectives:
- Build public awareness and political will about the need to address chronic absence. This includes extensive media outreach as well as working with key national organizations to spread the word about why this issue matters and explore the role federal government can play. It also includes explaining the critical difference between chronic absence and truancy.
- Foster state campaigns by developing coalitions to advance state and local policies that promote tracking attendance for individual students and reporting on chronic absence to ensure schools, especially if they are low-performing, will intervene to improve student attendance.
- Encourage local practice by providing technical assistance and tools to help communities, schools and school districts monitor and work together to address chronic absence. This includes creating peer learning networks and tapping skills and assets available from state and national organizations.
This communications toolkit is inspired by the amazing work done by Attendance Works. The Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD) Communications and Public Relations Department and the Early Warning Systems program partnered to develop a toolkit that was customized to the Puget Sound region and reflective of the PSESD’s commitment to lead with racial equity in support of our agency’s END: Success for Each child and Eliminate the Opportunity Gap.
In this toolkit we have included original and adapted materials with permission by Attendance Works. Educators and community organizations working to reduce chronic absence can download our free materials and disseminate them without express permission from Attendance Works and Puget Sound Educational Service District. The content can be reformatted and reused without changes to the wording as it appears in this toolkit long as credit is given to Attendance Works, and Puget Sound ESD where noted. That can include use of our logo and/or a line reading “used with permission of Attendance Works.” If organizations wish to alter the wording of these materials in any way from its original form, prior authorization via email is required. Attendance Works reserves the right to review any and all alterations before granting this authorization. If we are not comfortable with your alterations, we reserve the right to deny use of our name and logo.
PSESD appreciates the leadership, dedication and collaborative approach that Attendance Works has taken in this arena. We are supportive of their work, their objectives and are excited to partner in this initiative to bring these resources to the districts and communities in the Puget Sound region in support of the students and families that we serve.
• Why Attendance and Chronic Absence?
Attendance has been proven to be one of the most powerful predictors of academic achievement and can have a dramatic impact on key milestones, including third grade reading, 9th grade achievement, high school graduation, and postsecondary persistence. Chronic absenteeism is missing 10% of school, regardless of the reason. A focus on chronic absenteeism examines the link between loss of class time and academic achievement. An awareness of chronic absenteeism and its potential impact will empower students, families, and communities to make informed decisions regarding missing school.
Common Barriers to Student Attendance
|Health & Mental Health Barriers||Personal Barriers|
|Child abuse and/or neglect^||Peer pressure or inability to maintain friendships|
|Drug or alcohol use and/or abuse||Feelings of rejection and failure|
|Childhood depression||Embarrassment due to lack of “fashionable” clothing|
|Asthma or other chronic illness||Child believes the teacher does not like him/her|
|Poor nutrition, dental, vision, hearing problems||Low self-esteem|
|Lack of immunizations||To meet with friends|
|Financial Barriers||Family Barriers|
|Insufficient food||Insufficient parent support^|
|Proper clothing not available||Child kept home for babysitting or caring for a sick parent^|
|Homelessness||Family history of dropping out|
|Parent unemployment||Lack of adult supervision^|
|Problems communicating with social services||Parent addicted to drugs or alcohol|
|Students needing to work||Insufficient parent support|
|Community/Cultural Barriers||School Based Barriers|
|Lack of safety in the community||Teacher conflict|
|Insufficient use of community agencies||Inadequate transportation|
|Bullying due to cultural differences||Fear of being bullied or cyber bullied|
|Language barriers||Inappropriate programming – either too challenging or not challenging enough|
^mandated CPS report
• Who Should Use This Toolkit?
The purpose of this toolkit is to rally communities around the cause of improving absenteeism. With that said, we encourage all school and district staff, as well as community organizations, religious institutions, local businesses, and family members to use this toolkit to improve attendance among the youth in your community.
• How do we access it?
In addition to being available here online, there is a pdf version of the toolkit for you to download, review and share.
• Can we make changes?
In an effort to support school districts in our region, this toolkit was developed by Puget Sound Educational Service District’s (PSESD) Communications and Public Relations team in partnership with the Early Warning Systems program.
The information found in this plan includes resources from AttendanceWorks, OSPI, and original content and images from PSESD. Use of the materials from these sources has been granted to School Districts in the Puget Sound Region, please credit Attendance Works and PSESD with our logos and/or a line reading “used with permission of Attendance Works and PSESD.” as appropriate.
Districts are encouraged to customize the messaging with district specific information.
In addition to using this messaging through their own platforms, we encourage districts to share, retweet and repost information shared through the PSESD social platforms
Any communication you have with students and families in your schools and districts should be responsive, inclusive and culturally appropriate to the students and families in your district. Attending to culturally sensitive communication supports and engages all groups and communities: gender, ability/disability, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, language and nationality. Culturally relevant family engagement strategies communicate to students that their family identities are understood and valued. It also demonstrates respect for families with a diverse range of backgrounds and structures.
In order to increase access to information, resources and awareness campaigns by people of color and immigrant and refugee communities through the implementation of racially and culturally inclusive outreach and communication campaigns we must first:
- Acknowledge the barriers that people of color and immigrant and refugee communities experience in accessing or participating in outreach campaigns like this Attendance Awareness Campaign
- Recognize diversity as both a strength and opportunity
- Affirm that a healthy community requires outreach and public engagement that takes into account our communities’ racial, cultural, and socio-economic complexity.
These are some resources you can use to ensure your that your communication efforts are inclusive of all the families that you serve:
Inclusive Community Engagement: 6 Essential Strategies
1. Build personal relationships
2. Create welcoming atmosphere
3. Increase accessibility
4. Develop alternate methods for engagement
5. Maintain a presence with communities
6. Partner with diverse organizations and agencies
Key messages that everyone —schools, preschools, public agencies, community organizations, faith based institutions, elected officials, and parents themselves—can use to help spread the word about this important issue.
Stress that good attendance will help your children do well in high school, in college and at work
Beyond the talking points for parents, you should target some messages to students of all ages. As they grow older, they need to hear this message from peers, as well as teachers and parents.
DELIVERING THE MESSAGE
• Social Media Graphics and Content
Absenteeism hits hardest among some of our most vulnerable populations. A recent report from Attendance Works and Everyone Graduates Center shows where chronically absent students are concentrated. Find out more in: Preventing Missed Opportunity: Taking Collective Action to Confront Chronic Absence. #EverdayCountsEveryStudentMatters
A new report, Preventing Missed Opportunity: Taking Collective Action to Confront Chronic Absence, shows that half of the nation’s 6.5 million chronically absent students are concentrated in just 4 percent of districts. We can improve attendance with community-wide efforts in the small number of communities with high absence rates. Let’s work to make chronic absences rare – not common. #EverdayCountsEveryStudentMatters
Half of chronically absent students in US are concentrated in 4% of districts bit.ly/2bZCtg6 @AttendanceWorks @JHU_EGC #SchoolEveryDay #WAedu
@AttendanceWorks @JHU_EGC report digs into @EDcivilrights #chronicabsence data: bit.ly/2bZCtg6 #SchoolEveryDay #WAedu
Attendance gaps turn into achievement gaps. Let’s get more kids to #SchoolEveryDay bit.ly/2bZCtg6 @AttendanceWorks @JHU_EGC #WAedu #EquityinEd
We can turn #chronic absence around. Find out how: bit.ly/2bZCtg6 #SchoolEveryDay @AttendanceWorks @JHU_EGC
Find a snapshot of where #chronicallyabsent students are on this US map: http://arcg.is/2c4koLi @AttendanceWorks @JHU_EGC #SchoolEveryDay #WAedu
Half of #chronicallyabsent students are concentrated in 4% of districts: http://arcg.is/2c4koLi @AttendanceWorks @JHU_EGC #SchoolEveryDay #WAedu
• Videos from Attendance Works & Partners
• Press Release
Sample District Press Release (Word). We suggest you send this in late August or early September just before the first day of school. If you need assistance using your FlashAlert account to send the Press Release please contact the PSESD Communications Program Coordinator Alexa Mendezona, firstname.lastname@example.org, (425) 917-7607.
• Flyers, Posters, Calendar
11″ x 17″ (PDF)
From Attendance Works:
This Parent Handout outlines strategies for building good attendance habits early.
For parents of secondary school students, check out this handout.
• Letters, Emails & More
Attendance Success Plan (PDF)
• Data tools
Detailed Analysis: To address the issue of chronic absence most effectively, it is important to compile and analyze data on attendance for your district. Analyzing by grade, school, and sub-population will allow you to target your response to the groups that need it most. Below are templates to help guide your analysis.
- Chronic absence analysis guide
- Worksheet: School-wide analysis
- Worksheet: District-wide analysis by grade
- Worksheet: District-wide analysis by sub-population
- Worksheet: School-to-school comparison
- Read more about our free data tools for calculating chronic absence
• Additional Links & Resources
- Parents can use this attendance calculator to see the impact their child’s absences has on their education.
- 3 Tiers of Interventions (pyramid, PDF)
- 3 Tiers of Interventions (resource worksheet)
- Make Your Own Pyramid worksheet (PDF)
- Make Your Own Pyramid worksheet (Word)
- Absences Add Up (AdCouncil)
- Template Attendance Certificate
- Attendance Certificate from Oakland
- Get Schooled Toolkit
- are more likely to be reading on grade level by 3rd grade.
- perform better on standardized tests.
- are more likely to graduate high school.
- have increased access to college and career readiness opportunities.
And attendance habits are formed early in the year – students who go to school regularly during the month of September are more likely to continue with good attendance throughout the school year!
Tackling Chronic Absence: 5 Universal Strategies for Building a Culture of High Attendance Expectations (Baltimore City Public Schools Adapted from www.attendanceworks.org)
Washington State Institute for Public Policy Evaluations of Washington state truancy programs
King County’s Prosecutor’s Office Forms used in the truancy petition process
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention National data on truancy reduction programs (search “truancy”)
The Partnership for Families and Children Model truancy programs
Washington State Law on Truancy
Washington state’s truancy law, known as the Becca Bill, requires the school/district and the juvenile court to take specific actions when youth are truant.
- After one unexcused absence in a month, the school is required to inform the parent in writing or by phone.
- After two unexcused absences, the school is required to initiate a parent conference to improve the student’s attendance.
- After five unexcused absences in a month, the parent and school must enter a contract to improve the student’s attendance. Or, the case can be referred to a Community Truancy Board.
- After five unexcused absences in a month, or ten unexcused absences in an academic year, the school district may file truancy petitions with the juvenile court.
- If the student is not in compliance with a court order resulting from a tuition petition, the school is required to file a contempt motion.
School districts, through their elected school boards, typically adopt policies and procedures relative to these requirements that are coordinated with local juvenile courts. Guidelines for school board policies are developed through the Washington State School Director’s Association, wherein each board makes adjustments to these guidelines based on local priorities and resources.
Each of Washington’s school districts addresses the definition of unexcused absences and interventions in a manner consistent with school board policies. Similarly, local juvenile courts address the petition process in a manner consistent with local county juvenile justice priorities and resources. As a result of these local variations, there are significant differences in how each community approaches and resolves the issue of truancy in Washington state.
ATTENDANCE AWARENESS MONTH
Join us for the fourth-annual Attendance Awareness Month! Attendance Awareness Month is a nationwide event recognizing the connection between school attendance and academic achievement.
Participate in Attendance Awareness Month this September by Participating in one or all 5 of these ways:
1. Engage Parents and Students Right Away!
Parents and families are essential partners in promoting good attendance because they, ultimately, have the bottom-line responsibility for making sure their children get to school every day. When children are young, they are especially dependent upon adults or older siblings to help them get to school or preschool. Just as parents should focus on how their children are performing academically, they have a responsibility to set expectations for good attendance and to monitor their children’s absences, so that missed days don’t add up to academic trouble. Reach out to the local media. Start the Conversation right away at the beginning of the year!
2. Reach out to your local media contacts
or respond to reporter’s calls and suggest articles on school attendance and what your organization or community is doing to reduce absenteeism.
3. Op-eds and Blogs
Ask your Superintendent, Principal and/or School Board member to submit an Op-ed and/or write a blog for your district website.
Compose a commentary stressing the importance of attendance and the role a school or community is playing to reduce absenteeism. If you can’t sell it as an op-ed piece, shorten it and offer it as a guest blog or a letter to the editor. Remember TV and radio stations allow on- air commentaries.
4. Run your own Daily Social Media Attendance Campaign.
Post 30 tweets, Facebook entries, Instagram photos about attendance data — one for every day in September. Use the national hashtag: #schooleveryday
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5. Attendance Action Map
Early Warning Systems (EWS) uses research proven thresholds of the ABC’s (Attendance, Behavior and Course Performance) to identify students who are struggling early and intervene to bring students back on track for high school graduation and postsecondary success. Research proven, nationally recognized and highly predictive indicators generally include:
- A – Attendance: 90% or lower
- B – Behavior : Suspension/Expulsion
- C – Course Performance:
- Failure of core course in middle school
- Failure of any course in high school
It is essential that all students graduating from high school are prepared and ready for postsecondary education.Georgetown University Center on Education in the Workforce projects that 67% of Washington State jobs will require postsecondary education by 2018. Early Warning Systems allow districts, schools and community partners to proactively use data to reduce disproportionality and target interventions for those students who most need additional support to reach graduation and beyond. It is a key strategy to help eliminate the opportunity gap and ensure success for each student. (more)
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