Regular attendance is vital to student success. A recent article from America's Promise Alliance emphasized that, for some students, getting to school isn’t as easy as waking up to catch the bus or getting dropped off by a parent. “Many students, particularly those living in poverty, face systematic barriers that make going to school challenging…Often times students struggling with these issues are chronically absent.” Teachers or counselors can meet with these students to set goals, troubleshoot challenges, and help to problem solve. All schools can use tips from the following list to increase student attendance, compiled from programs Count Me In! and Attendance Works.
What is your school culture?
- Create a school-wide culture and emphasis on attendance
- Create a climate of change
- Take the issue of attendance improvement more seriously
- Create an environment where bullying is not tolerated
- Implement incentives school wide—everyone should participate!
Try not to reward only perfect attendance
- Reward and recognize students for improved attendance, not just perfect attendance
- Perfect attendance is not always the goal—you want your students to stay home if they are sick
- Try offering weekly perfect attendance awards—this allows students to have a chance to succeed even if they were absent the previous week
- Weekly or monthly student recognition does not need to include prizes—simply recognizing students with an in-class visual display such as a bulletin board helps them to track their own progress
Get parents involved
- Make sure parents/guardians feel welcome at your school—make an effort to say hello to each of them
- Do you have English Language Learners in your school? Do your best as a school to welcome parents and family members who do not speak English—this could mean learning to communicate in multiple languages
- Visual displays such as posters are a great way to make parents feel welcomed and included
- Send home information highlighting both the value of attendance and the consequences of poor attendance
Make your school a place where students feel safe and respected
- Adopt a character education program
- Make the relationship between students and schools more personal
- Ask teachers or other school staff to make individual contact with high-risk students every day
- Initiate mentoring programs among the students, and recognize those mentors with personalized awards