District Strategies to Reduce Student Absenteeism

Michael Gottfried | University of Pennsylvania
Lindsay Page | Brown University
Danielle Edwards | Brown University

Strategies to Consider

Tier 1

  • Safe, reliable transportation to and from school and a safe school environment promote daily attendance.
  • Providing detailed and timely information to parents about their child’s absences and positive messaging about school can improve attendance.
  • Home visiting by nurses or teachers can provide greater insight into why children are absent and foster stronger relationships between families and schools.
  • Students are more engaged—and more likely to attend school— when their schoolwork connects to their own identity and when they feel a sense of belonging at school.
  • Addressing students’ and families’ morning barriers, routines, and engagement shows promising evidence of improving attendance.
  • Attendance interventions that target physical health at school are particularly effective, and this is even more salient during COVID.

Tier 2

  • Data systems that identify students for increased support based on attendance, behavior, and academic metrics can facilitate targeted efforts to reduce chronic absenteeism.
  • School-based mentorship programs have been shown to improve attendance and academic outcomes for students at all grade levels.

Tier 3

  • Partnering with other public agencies and community based organizations shows promise for comprehensively responding to complex challenges some students face to strong school attendance.
  • For frequently absent students, absence intervention teams that holistically respond to causes of student truancy are more effective than strategies that punish students with suspension or expulsion.