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 Student Attendance Research and Literature Summaries


National Dropout Prevention Center/ Network

Researchers at the Nation Dropout Prevention Center have completed a review of practices in place to combat declines in student attendance. This document provides a look at 15 of the most salient practices focused on graduation rate improvement. Although each of the 15 effective strategies for increasing the graduation rate can stand alone, an effective program will use several, if not all of the strategies.

Several best practices to improve attendance and reduce truancy have been identified: collaboration, use of incentives and sanctions, family involvement, establishment of a supportive context, and assessment and evaluation of the program. Effective programs will exhibit the elements of best practices and the 15 effective strategies. The collection of resources provided may help improve existing programs, or facilitate the establishment of new programs to improve student attendance and reduce truancy.

National Center for Education Statistics / Nation Forum on Education Statistics

U.S. Department of Education

This report, produced by The National Forum on Education Statistics (the Forum) is aimed at provide educators with best practices to improve the quality of education data gathered for use by policymakers and program decision makers. An approach to furthering this goal has been to pool the collective experiences of Forum members to produce “best practice” guides in areas of high interest to those who collect, maintain, and use data about elementary and secondary education. Standardizing the way data systems record student attendance—that is, developing a taxonomy of common attendance codes—is one of those high interest areas and captured within this document.

The document provides strategies for standardizing local student attendance measures, provides examples of best practices on way to overcome challenges with collection student attendance data, and discuss practical ways local and state administrators can use attendance data to increase student achievement.

National Center for Educational evaluation and Regional Assistance

Institute of Education Service – IES Practical Guide U.S. Department of Education

This guide is intended to be useful to educators in high schools and middle schools, to superintendents and school boards, and to state policymakers in planning and executing dropout prevention strategies. The target audience includes school administrators as well as district-level administrators. This guide seeks to help them develop practice and policy alternatives for implementation. The guide includes specific recommendations and indicates the quality of the evidence that supports these recommendations. In addition, we have provided a description of some ways each recommendation could be carried out. Our examples should not be construed as the best or most effective ways to carry out each recommendation. Rather, the examples illustrate practices that were noted by previously implemented dropout prevention programs as having an impact on staying in school, progressing in school, or completing school. Readers need to note that the specific ways in which the practices were implemented varied widely based on each school’s context.

National Center for School Engagement

Researchers at the Nation Dropout Prevention Center have completed a review of practices in place to combat declines in student attendance. This document provides a look at 15 of the most salient practices focused on graduation rate improvement. Although each of the 15 effective strategies for increasing the graduation rate can stand alone, an effective program will use several, if not all of the strategies.

Several best practices to improve attendance and reduce truancy have been identified: collaboration, use of incentives and sanctions, family involvement, establishment of a supportive context, and assessment and evaluation of the program. Effective programs will exhibit the elements of best practices and the 15 effective strategies. The collection of resources provided may help improve existing programs, or facilitate the establishment of new programs to improve student attendance and reduce truancy.

Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory

This report attempts to briefly summarize the research on the complex issues of student attendance. It presents some research-based ideas as a starting place for educators who want to develop better policies and practices for attendance and to understand the factors that contribute to increased attendance, engagement, and a lower dropout rate. This report also emphasizes, as does other research on attendance and dropouts, that strategies and policies must not be implemented in isolation from each other; that attendance policies, family engagement, student engagement, and community engagement must all connect for any strategy to really succeed.

National Center for Children in Poverty

This applied research project sought to explore the prevalence, consequences, potential contributing factors and possible responses to chronic absence in grades K-3. To deepen understanding of the issue, this project supported new analysis of national and local data on student attendance patterns, a review of relevant literature, and interviews with practitioners, researchers, and funders about promising practices and programs. The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) analyzed national data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K), to assess impact, prevalence and risk factors for chronic early absence. Annie E. Casey Foundation staff and consultants worked with the Urban Institute, the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, the National Center for School Engagement, and Metis Associates to examine early absenteeism patterns in nine, mostly urban, localities by grade and for particular populations. This summary presents our findings about why chronic early absence matters, what contributes to its prevalence, and what are the implications for action.

Center for Mental Health in Schools

University of California, Los Angeles Department of Psychology

Every student absence jeopardizes the ability of students to succeed at school and schools to achieve their mission. Students who are not at school cannot receive instruction. Schools funded on the basis of average daily attendance have fewer resources to do the job. Some students who are truant from school engage in behaviors that are illegal. And the correlates of school attendance problems go on and on.

Reducing school absences is one of the most challenging matters facing schools. In addressing the problem, it is important to begin by exploring two questions:

  • What factors lead to student absences?
  • How can schools more effectively address the problem?

This brief provides a quick overview of issues related to school attendance problems and then frames directions for policy and practice. As with all Center briefs, it is meant to highlight the topic and provide a tool for discussion by school policy makers and practitioners.

National Center for Student Engagement

The National Center for School Engaged has created an online registry where user /educators can upload effective programs and practices aimed at combating truancy and improving student attendance. Their dataset allows educators to use a criterion based search engine to find programs and policies that best service a number of needs. Final reports and evaluations are available for a number of programs to demonstrate effectiveness.

Families And Schools Together (FAST)

Families And Schools Together (FAST) is a collaborative prevention and parent involvement program designed to build social and family relationships and protective factors that address school failure, alcohol and drug abuse, violence, delinquency, and child abuse and neglect. FAST National Training & Evaluation Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to the dissemination and evaluation of the FAST program.

Atlanta Bar Association & Fulton County (Atlanta) Juvenile Court

Atlanta's Truancy Intervention Project began in 1991 as a joint effort between the Fulton County (Atlanta) Juvenile Court and the Atlanta Bar Association. The project was started in response to the recurring factor of truancy among children who appeared in Juvenile Court. Potential volunteers are recruited through their local bar associations and law firms and are trained in a CLE seminar, in addition to undergoing a criminal background check and completing an application.

Present and Accounted for: Improving Student Attendance Through Family and Community Involvement

  • Authors: Joyce Epstein & Steven Sheldon
  • Journal: Journal of Educational Research (2002) Volume 95

Reducing student absenteeism and truancy is a goal of many schools across the country. Surprisingly little research focuses on what schools can do to increase and sustain students’ daily attendance, and even fewer studies explore how family–school–community partnerships may contribute to this goal. In this longitudinal study, data were collected on schools’ rates of daily student attendance and chronic absenteeism and on specific partnership practices that were implemented to help increase or sustain student attendance. Results indicate that several family–school–community partnership practices predict an increase in daily attendance, a decrease in chronic absenteeism, or both. The data suggest that schools may be able to increase student attendance in elementary school by implementing specific family and community involvement activities.

The Detrimental Effects of Missing School: Evidence from Urban Siblings

  • Author: Michael A. Gottfried – RAND Corporation
  • Journal: Journal of Education (2011) Volume 117

There is evidence suggesting that missing school negatively relates to academic achievement. However, it is a difficult task to derive unbiased empirical estimates of absences in their influence on performance. One particular challenge arises from the unobserved heterogeneity in the family environment, which may relate to both absence behavior and school performance. This article provides the first analysis aimed at reducing the family-specific omitted variable bias pertaining to measures of absences in their influence on standardized testing achievement. It does so by employing a model of family fixed effects on a longitudinal sample of siblings within the same household in a large urban school district over six years of observations. The results indicate a stronger, statistically significant negative relationship between absences and achievement than what would have been suggested otherwise. Implications are discussed.

The Relationship between School Absence, Academic Performance, and Asthma Status

  • Authors: Sheniz Moonie, PhD., David A. Sterling, Ph.D. CIH, Larry W. Figgs, Ph.D. MPH, and Mario Castro, MD MPH
  • Journal: Journal of School Health (2008) Volume 78

The uses a cross-sectional dataset of over 3,500 students within the Missouri school system. Results found a negative impact of absenteeism on standardized test level achievement was demonstrated in children from an urban African American school district. Children with asthma perform the same academically as their nonasthma peers. However, those with persistent asthma show a trend of performing worse on MAP standardized test scores and have more absence days compared with other students.