Summer 2014
A Note from the Director

What if I told you we could predict a student's attendance patterns by the end of the first month of school? Would you look at the data a little more closely? Would you start intervening with students right away? A Baltimore study released today demonstrates that absences in September can predict chronic absence levels for the whole school year. That underscores the importance of recognizing Attendance Awareness Month in September, with positive messaging and a renewed commitment to data crunching and targeted outreach. 


Schools and communities are already posting their plans on our Attendance Action Map. And we're seeing signs of progress in other ways. New Britain, Conn., is continuing to reduce chronic absence in its elementary schools. And New York City has committed to spending $52 million over the next four years to improve attendance. 


These are just a few of the programs we're hearing about. Let us know what you're doing to reduce chronic absence at


Hedy Chang

Research Spotlight
September Attendance Can Predict Trends for the Year
Absenteeism in the first month of school can predict poor attendance patterns throughout the year, providing an early warning sign for parents and educators to intervene and put students back on track, according to a brief released today by the Baltimore Education Research Consortium.

Why September Matters: Improving Student Attendance, by Linda S. Olson, examined attendance in the Baltimore City Public Schools for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students in September and throughout the rest of the 2012-13 school year.

The study found:
  • Students who missed fewer than 2 days in September typically had good attendance rates for the entire year.
  • Half the students who missed 2-4 days in September went on to miss a month or more of school, which is known as chronic absence.
  • Nearly 9 out of 10 students who missed more than 4 days in September were chronically absent that year.
Read more here.

Chicago Schools' Efforts to Keep 9th Graders "On Track" to Graduation Are Successful

An intense focus on attendance and other early warning indicators in the 9th grade led to higher graduation rates in Chicago public schools, according to research released this spring. In 2007, Chicago Public Schools started an aggressive push to put 9th graders "on track" for graduation. That meant tackling such indicators as course failure and poor attendance.

Essentially, the monitoring and support in 9th grade inoculated many students from problems in 10th and 11th grade and kept them in school through graduation. As more Chicago high schools have started the adopting this approach, the percentage of on-track ninth graders has increased from 57 to 82 percent.
Messaging Spotlight

Attendance Awareness Month starts in six weeks, offering an extraordinary opportunity to share the importance of school attendance from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. On our webinar Aug. 6, we'll share new strategies and materials, including a new video for parents of young children and talking points for making the case to stakeholders in your community.  


If you've already made plans for September, post them now on our interactive map. If you're still thinking about it, review the Count Us In! toolkit again and check out these new materials on our website: 

Attendance badge
  • A poster to hang in store windows or doctor's offices
Practice Spotlight

New Britain's Focus on Attendance Pays Off

For the second year in a row, the Consolidated School District of New Britain, Conn., has reduced chronic absence rates in its elementary schools using a targeted, data-driven approach.

Kindergarten absenteeism rate fell to 13.4 percent, down from 17.5 percent last year and 30 percent the year before. First, second, third, fourth and fifth grades district-wide all saw double-digit percentage declines in chronic absence this school year. The positive trend is the result of a collaborative effort between the school district, the Coalition for New Britain's Children, the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain, Attendance Works and others.

United Way of New York City Receives Large Grant to Fight Chronic Absence

The United Way of New York City received a four-year, $52 million grant from the city Department of Education to fight chronic absence through its Community Schools programs in 40 high-needs schools. The schools offer services such as mental health services, homework help and family counseling that can help improve attendance, as well as improve achievement.

The program will allow United Way to increase resources for community-based partnerships, improving attendance rates and dropout prevention efforts for more than 40,000 New York City students. 

Community Efforts Recognized as Bright Spots

Two initiatives aimed at reducing chronic absence were recognized this month as Bright Spots by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. The Campaign, a key funder and partner in our work, considers improving attendance an important strategy in its efforts to promote early reading. The Bright Spot communities are:
  • The Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is working with school districts across the state to reduce chronic absence and develop a model attendance policy.
  • Kent County, Michigan uses a community school initiative in high-poverty schools to decrease chronic absenteeism and help students and their families succeed.
About Attendance Works


Attendance Works is a national and state initiative that promotes awareness of the important role that school attendance plays in achieving academic success. It aims to ensure that every school in every state not only tracks chronic absence data for its individual students but also partners with families and community agencies to help those children. 


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Join Our Webinar!


Join us Wednesday, August 6, for our latest webinar:  Can You Hear Us Now? Amplifying Key Messages About the Importance of Attendance, (1-2:30 pm ET).  Register here


In the News
Washington Post, May 1, 2014

Mining Data for Student Success, St. Louis Public Radio, April 21, 2014 

Do you love our online tools, resources, webinars and up-to-date information on attendance research and news? Donate to Attendance Works! 

Your gift is tax deductible and will support forging a national consensus on the need to monitor, report and address the effects of chronic absence. I hope that you will stand with as and support our work as we work to reduce chronic absence and achieve better outcomes for all students. 

Contact Us

For more information contact:

Attendance Works would like to express its deep appreciation to the foundations supporting our work nationally and in communities across the country: The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The California Endowment, Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Community Foundation of Greater New Britain, DeVos Foundation, Friedman Family Foundation, Long Foundation, Paterson Education Fund, San Francisco Foundation and United Way Bay Area.