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Toward Smarter State School Attendance Policies: Common-Sense Strategies to Reduce Chronic Absenteeism


The Alliance for Excellent Education, Attendance Works, and the Data Quality Campaign Presents a Webex

Hedy Chang, Director, Attendance Works
Karen Crompton, President, Voices for Utah Children
Fred Jones, Legislative Associate, Alliance for Excellent Education
Brennan McMahon, Senior Associate, State Policy and Advocacy, Data Quality Campaign
Terry Spradlin, Director for Education Policy, Center for Evaluation & Education Policy, Indiana University

The Alliance for Excellent Education, Attendance Works, and the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) conducted a webex examining the roles state action and policy play in ensuring students are attending school. Chronic absenteeism-missing 10 percent or more of the school year for any reason-is a hidden national crisis affecting up to 7.5 million students. It is a proven early warning sign of academic risk in the early grades and of dropping out of school by middle or high school. Attendance can be significantly improved when districts, families, and communities work together to nurture a culture of attendance and use data to drive interventions. State policy and local supports play critical roles in ensuring districts (1) monitor the extent to which chronic absenteeism is a problem; (2) determine which schools, grades, or populations of students need intervention; and (3) use the data to identify and overcome barriers to attending school.

Brennan McMahon discussed the DQC’s findings about the extent to which attendance and chronic absenteeism is monitored by state data systems. Hedy Chang shareed key components of smart state attendance policy. Terry Spradlin described how an analysis of attendance data in Indiana resulted in new state policy ensuring chronic absence is calculated, reported, and addressed by school improvement plans, and Karen Crompton shared how key stakeholders, such as state officials and celebrities, work together to improve attendance rates. Fred Jones moderated the webex.

Watch an archived copy of the webex

The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC-based national policy and advocacy organization that works to improve national and federal education policy so that all students can achieve at high academic levels and graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship in the twenty-first century.

Attendance Works is a national and state initiative that promotes better policy and practice around school attendance that promotes tracking chronic absence data for each student beginning in kindergarten, or earlier, and partnering with families and community agencies to intervene when poor attendance is a problem for students or schools.

The Data Quality Campaign (DQC) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, national advocacy organization based in Washington, DC. The DQC leads a partnership of nearly 100 organizations committed to realizing the vision of an education system in which all stakeholders-from parents to policymakers-are empowered with high-quality data from the early childhood, K-12, postsecondary, and workforce systems to make decisions that ensure every student graduates from high school prepared for success in college and the workplace.

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