Attendance is a strong, leading indicator of student success. Research shows that student attendance—or a lack thereof—can have a marked impact on college, career, and life readiness.
That’s why, at Nye County School District (Nev.), school and district leaders are focused on reducing chronic absenteeism as a key lever to improve the graduation rate. Here are the steps that Nye County administrators took to increase daily attendance by 1.05% and draw an additional 16 students to school each day.
1. Determine your school or district's baseline attendance rates
Before launching an attendance initiative, it’s important to understand your school or district’s starting point. Do a simple audit to answer questions such as:
- What is our daily average attendance rate?
- Are we on track to hit our attendance goal this year?
- Which students have streaks of absences?
- Which students have a declining trend in attendance this month?
For example, during the last quarter of the school year, school administrators at Rosemary Clarke Middle School in Nye County noticed a decline in daily student attendance. This piece of data sparked a school-wide attendance push to close out the year on a positive note.
2. Launch a school-wide challenge that incentivizes attendance
Attendance challenges can be an effective way to mobilize the entire school community—from students, to families, to teachers and staff—around the goal of boosting attendance.
At Rosemary Clarke Middle School, administrators put a fun spin on increasing student attendance by holding an Attendance Showdown. The showdown pitted each grade level (6th, 7th, and 8th) against each other to see which grade could achieve the highest attendance rate in the last two months of the school year.
Consider offering an incentive during your challenge, such as a pizza or ice cream party for students with perfect attendance—or for the grade level or classroom with the highest attendance average.
"After two months of our Attendance Showdown, we increased our daily attendance rate by 1.05%, which amounts to 16 additional students attending school each day. We now plan to start this challenge from the beginning of next school year. Having attendance data at our fingertips has been key in reaching this goal."
–Terri Hee, Teacher on Special Assignment, Rosemary Clarke Middle School
3. Track student attendance across multiple dimensions
Once your attendance challenge is in motion, perform a daily check-up on trends and averages. Monitor data school-wide, at each grade level, and at the student level to get a holistic understanding of how attendance is progressing across your school or district—and use the data to drive strategy.
Essential Attendance Metrics to Track:
- Average daily attendance rate
- Average year-to-date daily attendance
- Attendance rate by week, month, and semester or quarter
- Comparison to a school-wide goal
- Chronic absence rate (students who have missed more than 10% of days)
- Number of absent students each day—by grade level and excused/unexcused reason
- Which students missed school each day
- Chronic absence streaks and year-to-date attendance for individual students
- Specific course section absences or tardies
Pro Tip: If you’re a Panorama Student Success user, track these metrics in the School Attendance Dashboard (pictured above). In Nye County, Panorama syncs with Infinite Campus to create interactive dashboards that help administrators understand and act on key attendance trends.
4. Report out your progress to the community and celebrate success
To celebrate progress during the Attendance Showdown, school administrators at Rosemary Clarke Middle School shared out attendance rates with students, families, and educators. This kept the community motivated and aligned throughout the challenge.
Running a similar attendance challenge? Communicate out attendance metrics and milestones through morning daily announcements and one-on-one meetings with students. In addition, try delivering letters and calls home to families. Research shows that informing parents of their child’s absences can decrease chronic absenteeism by up to 10%.
Not only will these tactics create momentum, but they’ll also reinforce that student attendance is a priority and a shared responsibility across the school community.