Giving Compass’ Take:
• School districts are shifting their chronic absenteeism strategies to respond to the current global pandemic and its subsequent effects on academics.
• How will school districts have to think of creative solutions to absenteeism in an online setting? How can donors help fund innovative solutions?
• Read more about attendance rates for remote learning.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, 16% of all students, or more than 7 million, were chronically absent in the 2015-16 school year, EdSurge reports, noting that while the federal government is waiving participation rate as an achievement indicator for one year due to the coronavirus pandemic, districts are still making chronic absenteeism a priority.
Long Beach Unified School District, for example, opened 26 Family Resource Centers offering health-related services for students’ families around areas like parenting, behavior management, crisis intervention, suicide prevention and attendance issue support. Since March closures, efforts have shifted to also focus on meeting needs like food security and internet connectivity that enable students to participate more readily in distance learning.
Chronic absenteeism was a concern for district leaders long before the coronavirus pandemic forced districts to close school buildings.
To improve absenteeism rates, and even engagement in school, a report from Attendance Works and American Institutes for Research suggests schools focus on improving conditions of learning, which include: creating an environment of physical and emotional health and safety; having a sense of belonging, connectedness, and support; providing relevant learning that is academically challenging; and improving adult and student social and emotional competencies. This is especially important for traditionally underserved students, such as students of color, students living in poverty and those with disabilities.
When schools switched to online platforms due to shutdowns in the spring, attendance plummeted in some districts. A Fishbowl survey of 5,659 educators found 35% of respondents reporting their online class attendance was as low as 0% to 25%, and 55% said their attendance was less than half. Out of states that had at least 100 teacher responses, Michigan had the highest rate of online absences, with 62% saying one-quarter or fewer of their students attended remote classes.
Read the full article about absenteeism amid a pandemic by Shawna De La Rosa at Education Dive.
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