About 6 million students (one out of seven) miss at least 15 days during the school year, according to the Department of Education. Valerie Marsh and Shaun Nelms offer four-research supported practices that have proven to boost attendance in real schools with real students.
School leaders and staff connect personally with individual students, making contact with everyone they see, knowing each by name, fist bumping, and always saying hello.
Personal contact with parents and families
Principals, social workers and staff build relationships with families, making school welcoming. Providing an interpreter for non-English speaking parents improves communication. Schools also can rely on local community liaisons, who develop relationships with families and students.
Attendance programs and systems
Incentive programs, tardiness policies, and a broader philosophy on counseling students are part of a committed, comprehensive approach that relies on systems.
Record-keeping and logistics
Whether it involves a card-scanning machine that students swipe as they enter, a smartphone app that an administrator checks, or hall sweeps by every adult in the building, schools that maintain high attendance analyze their data throughout the day.
Valerie Marsh is an assistant professor at the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education in New York. Shaun Nelms is superintendent for educational partnership organizations at East Upper & East Lower schools in Rochester, and an associate professor at the Warner School.