Roll-call reversals

Snapshots of attendance solutions that produced results
By: | November 16, 2018

Greene County Career Center (Ohio)

Initiative: A truancy interventionist helps students cope with life challenges such as daycare for their children, homelessness and driving parents to chemotherapy appointments.

Result: Truancy court referrals fell from 24 to one in just two years.

Meriden Public Schools (Conn.)

Initiative: District leaders asked school-based behavioral teams to monitor attendance. Teams reach out to families when students miss three days of school, but students with a history of absenteeism get a phone call after a single absence.

Result: The chronic absenteeism rate at one elementary school dropped from 21 percent to 8.5 percent.

LINK TO MAIN ARTICLE: K12 attendance in action

Montgomery Public Schools (Ala.)

Initiative: The district and the prosecutor’s office dispatch social workers who can connect families of truant students with mental health treatment, subsidized childcare, clothing and other services. Families are also summoned to meetings at the courthouse.

Result: Unexcused absences have been reduced by nearly a third in six years.

North Carolina (multidistrict program created by a retired Duke University professor)

Initiative: Elementary school teachers visit parents early in the school year; teachers also receive smartphones for follow-up conversations.

Result: Absences fell by 10 percent.

Santa Fe Public Schools (N.M.)

Initiatives: The district instituted Attendance Awareness Month as well as outreach to parents of absentees, and a truancy task force of school officials, families and community providers. High school students who show up before the morning’s first bell sometimes get free doughnuts.

Result: The truancy rate was cut by nearly 3 percentage points.

Deborah Yaffe is a freelance writer in New Jersey.