December 2014
A Note from the Director

We've had a year flush with activity: More districts and states are calculating chronic absence. More practitioners joined our webinars and downloaded our tools. More researchers are documenting the corrosive effects of absenteeism and demonstrating solutions.


As we look toward 2015, Attendance Works has already decided on our New Year's resolutions:

  • Health: We plan to work with doctors, nurses and other health partners to address health concerns that contribute to so many absences.
  • Children of color: We plan to work with school districts and federal officials to unpack why young children from communities of color are too often missing more school than their peers and find out what can improve their attendance.
  • Preschool: We plan to expand materials that emphasize the importance of attendance even before kindergarten.
  • State action: We plan to work with burgeoning state networks to guide policy development and create peer-learning opportunities. In California, that means helping more districts meet state requirements to calculate and address chronic absence.

We hope you can be part of these efforts: Join our webinars, use our free tools to crunch your data or participate in Attendance Awareness Month. Above all share with us and with your peers what is working for you and what obstacles you face.


Happy Holidays,


Hedy Chang

Practice Spotlight

The Weather Outside is Frightful...

We know that snow, sleet or even heavy rain can keep families from getting their children to school every day. Our next set of messages coming out in January will offer ideas for encouraging better attendance in the winter months.


If you've developed strategies or messaging that works, send it to us at [email protected] and we'll incorporate it in our materials. Sign up here to make sure you receive our latest messaging materials. 

Who Stepped Up in September

Our 2014 Attendance Action Map showed that 325 schools and community organizations participated in Attendance Awareness Month this September. But how did those numbers break down? California was No. 1, with Alabama, Iowa and Maryland with strong showings. Only five states didn't have any communities participating. 

Next year's goal = All 50 states!


We've created a new map that allows districts and schools that are calculating chronic absence data to let us know what they're doing. If you are crunching your numbers, sign up now on our District Data Action Map.

Research Spotlight

How Poverty Predicts Chronic Absence - And Vice Versa


An analysis of New York City schools found a number of risk factors that predict whether students and schools will struggle with chronic absenteeism, as well as identifying strategies for turning around these schools.


The report released in November by The Center for New York City Affairs at The New School found that more than 87,000 students from kindergarten through third grade missed 10 percent or more of the school year in 2012-13.


A Better Picture of Poverty: What Chronic Absenteeism and Risk Load Reveal About NYC's Lowest-Income Elementary Schools also identifies 130 schools where more than a third of students were chronically absent for five straight years. These schools had a few things in common: Scores on standardized tests were far below the city averages. And many of the students lived in deep poverty with high rates of homelessness, child abuse reports and male unemployment.


Chronic absenteeism, the report states, "is a much better index of poverty than the traditional measure of the number of children eligible for free lunch."


Read more here


In Middle School, Grades and Attendances Matter


Middle school is a "crucial intervention point" for ensuring that students are on track to graduate from high school and enroll in college, and key to predicting student success are grades and attendance, according to a new study by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR).


The report, which tracked about 20,000 Chicago Public Schools students from elementary to high school, found that students who improve their attendance during the middle grades have better outcomes in high school than those who simply improve their test scores.


A copy of the report is available on the UChicago CCSR website.


Oregon Absenteeism Reports Explore Causes, Solutions


An analysis of Oregon data two years ago showed that more than one fifth of the state's students are chronically absent. Three recent studies delve into why the rates are so high and what communities can do to improve attendance:

  • The Connection Between Missing School and Health by Upstream Public Health explored factors that contribute to absenteeism, such as unstable housing, fear of bullying and punitive school discipline policies as well as health conditions such as hunger, dental pain, respiratory illness and depression.
  • Showing Up, Staying In examined how the state can effectively address Oregon's chronic absence epidemic, with a particular focus on reaching at-risk children as early as possible.
  • The Condition of Education for Members of Oregon's Indian Tribes by ECONorthwest found that one-third of Oregon tribe-enrolled students were chronically absent in 2011-12, compared to 19 percent of all students.
Policy Spotlight
California to Honor Model Attendance Programs

The California Department of Education is looking for effective attendance programs to serve as models and mentors for other school districts and counties across the state. The Model School Attendance Review Board (SARB) Recognition Program identifies and recognizes innovative attendance and behavior improvement programs at the district or county level.


With a new state funding formula effectively requiring districts to calculate chronic absence, the local SARBs can pull together community partners to address in address attendance. Applicants for the award can include an inventory of community resources. Applications are due Feb. 27, with notification coming in April.

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. We aim 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. 


Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Pinterest and like our Facebook page!

Facebook    Twitter    Find us on Pinterest


We express a special thank you to our colleagues and friends who have included Attendance Works in their charitable contributions. If you haven't had a chance, you can donate now by clicking:


Whatever the size of your gift, it will provide us with much needed support to advance our work.

Did you catch our webinar on transportation and attendance with Safe Routes to School? 

If not, view the recording and the PowerPoint here            

In the News
Parents and Schools: Put an End to Chronic Absence, Principal magazine, November-December 2014

Contact Us

For more information contact: [email protected]

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, Friedman Family Foundation, Kenneth Rainin Foundation, San Francisco Foundation, United Way Bay Area, Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation, Thomas J. Long Foundation, the Doug and Maria DeVos Foundation, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and Open Society Institute-Baltimore.