Reducing Chronic Absenteeism: The Power of Afterschool Programs

Reducing Chronic Absenteeism:
The Power of Afterschool Programs
to Improve School Attendance
Tuesday, June 1, 2011
1:00 to 2:00 p.m. EST
Webinar speakers:
(listed in order of presentations)
• Moderator: Meeta Sharma-Holt, National League of
• Hedy Chang, Executive Director, Attendance Works
• Jeanne Y. Miller, Director, SHINE After-school Program
• Ellie Mitchell, Director, Maryland Out-of-School Time
Network ( MOST)
Introductions: Attendance Works
Hedy Chang, Director,
Attendance Works
Attendance Works is a national and state initiative that promotes awareness
of the important role that school attendance plays in achieving academic
It aims to ensure that schools and communities not only monitor chronic
absence but also intervene to ensure children are in school so they can learn.
Attendance Works: Background Continued
Founded in January 2010, Attendance Works seeks to:
Build public awareness and political will about the need to
address chronic absence
Foster state campaigns to advance state and local policy
III. Encourage local practice by showcasing examples of what
works, offering on-line tools and increasing the availability of
needed technical assistance.
Introductions: SHINE
Jeanne Y. Miller, Director
Lehigh Carbon Community College
SHINE After-School Program
The SHINE 21st Century After-School Program is located in rural Northeast PA and
provides educational services to children in 5 public schools and 4 parochial schools
covering over 430 square miles. Almost 500 children and 1, 000 adults are served
throughout the school year and during summer program.
SHINE is funded through the PA Department of Education 21st Century learning
Centers, PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency and various state and local
SHINE enacted attendance tracking measures as part of its afterschool operations
because it serves students that are at high risk for chronic absenteeism.
SHINE: Background Continued
100% are referred for academic
86% come from low income families
35% are already in/were in Children &
Youth or Foster Care
23% have IEP’s (Special Education
74% have special/remedial needs
(Title 1, ADHD, IEP)
17% are minorities
57% of SHINE students have
participated in the program 2 – 4 years
Centers: M-Thurs 3:30pm- 6:30pm
Professional Development:
1st Friday of the Month
Kindergarten: Weekly Home Visits
Summer Programs:
Camps & 1st – 5th grade home visits
Family Education Plans
Individual Plans for All Children
Introductions: MOST
Ellie Mitchell, Director
Maryland Out-of-School Time
Network (MOST)
Comprised of community members and groups campaigning for expanded
funding, more effective policies, and increased program quality to ensure all
young people in Maryland have access to activities in the out of school
hours that enable them to achieve in all stages of their development.
Provides a place to exchange information, test out new ideas, share best
practice information, and develop and implement a movement that
successfully convinces policy makers to make the network’s goals a reality.
MOST: Background Continued
Participation in Attendance Works Chronic Absence TA Project for
Statewide Afterschool Network:
– Survey
– Training Modules/Handouts
– Program Self Assessment Tool
Participation in Baltimore Student Attendance Initiative
Why should the afterschool field care about
the about chronic absence and the link to
low academic success?
Why Does Attendance Matter
for OST?
1. Research and field experience show
OST can help improve attendance
in school.
2. Focusing on attendance can improve
collaboration with schools
3. By ↑school day attendance, OST can
improve the academic success and
reduce drop-out.
Research Shows Impact of OST
• 7th and 8th graders attending afterschool
programs at a Boys & Girls Club skipped school
fewer times, increased school effort and gained
academic confidence. (2009)
• Afterschool participants attending Pathways to
Progress in Minneapolis and St. Paul came to
school an average 18.4 more days than their
peers. (2004)
• School-day attendance improved for students in
California’s Afterschool Learning and Safe
Neighborhoods Partnerships Program. Students
absent 10 % of the year came another 11 days.
High Quality OST Programs
• Provide socialization and peer attention
in a supervised venue
• Re-establish the link between effort and
results—first in a non-school activity
• Engage students in challenging activities
that help them develop persistence.
• Provide consistent contact with caring,
stable adults.
• Increasing a sense of belonging at
Chronic Early Absence (missing 10% of
school for any reason) Can Have A Long
Term Impact, Especially for Poor Children
Chronic K Absence predicted lower 5th grade performance even if
attendance had improved in 3rd grade.
5th Grade Math and Reading Performance By K Attendance
Average Academic Performance
0-3.3% in K
3.3 - 6.6% in K
6.6-10.0% in K
>=10.0% in K
Absence Rate in Kindergarten
Source: ECLS-K data analyzed by National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP)
Note: Average academic performance reflects results of direct cognitive assessments
conducted for ECLS-K.
Chronic Absence Is More Common For
Low-Income Children
Poor children are 4 X more likely to be chronically
absent in K than their highest income peers.
Children in poverty are more likely to face systemic
barriers to school:
Unstable Housing
Poor Transportation
Inadequate Food and Clothing,
Lack of Safe Paths to School Due to Neighborhood
Chaotic Schools with Poor Quality Programs, etc.
* (Romero & Lee 2007)
Chronic Absence is Especially
Challenging for Low-Income Children
Kindergarten and 1st grade can reduce the
achievement gap for low-income vs. middle class
students, but only if they attend school regularly.
(Ready 2010)
The negative impact of absences on literacy is
75% larger for low-income children whose families
often lack resources to make up lost time on task.
(Ready 2010)
Only 17% of low-income children in the United States
read proficiently by 4th grade. (NAEP 2009)
Chronically Absent 6th Graders Have
Lower Graduation Rates
Dropout Rates by Sixth Grade Attendance
(Baltimore City Public Schools, 1990-00 Sixth Grade Cohort)
Source: Baltimore Education Research Consortium SY 2009-2010
9th Grade Attendance Predicts
Graduation for Students of All
Economic Backgrounds
Need to recolor chart
Note: This Chicago study found attendance was a stronger
graduation predictor than 8th grade test scores.
Source: Allensworth & Easton, What Matters for Staying On-Track and Graduating in
Chicago Public Schools, Consortium on Chicago School Research at U of C, July 2007
Chronic Absence Can Reach High
New York City Schools
A 407 alert is issued when student misses 10 consecutive days or 20
days over a 40 day period. It misses more sporadic absence.
1 out of 5 elementary school children were chronically absent.
Source: Nauer K et al, Strengthening Schools by Strengthening Families, Center for
New York City Affairs New School, Oct 2008
Schools + Communities CAN
Make a Difference
Characteristics of Successful Attendance Initiatives
Partner with community agencies to help parents carry out
their responsibility to get children to school.
Make attendance a priority, set targets and monitor
progress over time.
Examine factors contributing to chronic absence, especially
from parent and student perspectives.
Clearly communicate expectations to parents.
Begin early, ideally in Pre-K.
Combine universal strategies that create and engaged
learning environment & build a culture of attendance with
targeted interventions.
Offer positive supports before punitive action.
Improving Attendance Takes an
Integrated Approach
Universal Attendance Supports
Safe and supportive school environment
Inviting and engaging classroom environment
Intentional family involvement and participation
Accurate roll taking every day in a caring manner
Rapid parent contact for unexplained absences
Recognition for good and improved attendance
Collaboration with afterschool programs and
early childhood programs to build a culture
of attendance
Increased access to school based health supports
A school plan and budget that reflects high attendance
Individual Assessments and Intervention
Refer chronically absent/ truant students for intervention
Identify and remove barriers
Provide on-going support
Recovery Strategies
Interagency Staffing
Case management and wrap-around services
Referral as last resort for court -based intervention
Baltimore Student Attendance Work
Group adapted from Scott Perry,
Attendance Audit, Oregon
SHINE* Results
70-73% of the students enrolled in SHINE Program over the past 5 years improved, didn’t need to
improve or maintained gains in attendance from previous years
88% of the students were regular attendees as compared to below 60% nationally for 21st Century
After-School Programs
77% of the parents surveyed over the past 5 years said the SHINE program improved school attendance
93% of the students who attended SHINE 90 days or more had exceptional or satisfactory attendance
96% of the students over the past 5 years were promoted to the next grade
78% of the SHINE students demonstrated improvement in academic performance
Math Report Card Grades: Over the past 4 years, 88% of the children had passing grades, out of those
children almost 60% were Above Average or Superior grades.
Reading Report Card Grades: over the past 4 years, 83% had passing grades, out of those children 48%
had Above Average or Superior.
*Students in the SHINE Program are highly at-risk for chronic absenteeism
Improved Attendance = Improved Academics
Baltimore OST Participants Less
Likely to Be Chronically Absent
2009-2010 Family League of Baltimore City Funded Afterschool Programs
Baltimore OST Participants More
Likely to Be High Attenders
2009-2010 Family League of Baltimore City Funded Afterschool Programs
Why should the afterschool field care about
the about chronic absence and the link to
low academic success?
Have any of you found especially effective
strategies for using afterschool to improve
school day attendance?
SHINE Strategies
Data Collection
Current Strategies
• Parents Sign a Contract – Parent
Teacher Agreement & Handbook
Center Teachers Fax weekly –
Entered into Data Base for the
Month – Teachers Receive
Monthly Reports
Report Includes: Average Daily
Attendance and the % Each
Child Attends During the Month
Teachers Receive Report Cards
i.e. Attendance Every Nine
Weeks From Schools
Independent Evaluator
• No School / No SHINE
• Build a Positive Relationship with
Parents Before any Attendance
Problems Occur
• Middle of the Year Letter –
Importance of Attendance –
Policy Reminder
• Incentive Program: 90%
SHINE Lessons Learned
Intentional Plan to collect and & evaluate data
Set goals – Teachers (Centers) – Parents (Incentives)
Summer Home-Visiting Program- Parent Involvement
The more students attend SHINE the better they do in
Moving to Intentional Focus on
Attendance in OST Programs
• Providing Training on Strategies for OST Providers to
▫ Improve program attendance practice
▫ Get and use school day attendance data
▫ Work with schools and parents to address attendance
• Facilitating data sharing between schools and OST
▫ Offer OST programs guidance on FERPA
▫ Provide data sharing templates and models
Have any of you found especially effective
strategies for using afterschool to improve
school day attendance?
What barriers have you encountered in
advancing your work in this area and what
recommendations do you have for others to
overcome the barriers?
Barriers and Recommendations:
Building relationships early with school administrators
Why after-school is an important partner/extension to the regular
school day?
Data collection- organized system
Now they will need you more than ever with funding cuts
Strengthening OST Practice on
Program & School Day Attendance
2011 MOST Network Survey of OST Providers, N = 118
• 83.3% believe it is Extremely
Important the OST program
actively encourage school-day
• 73.3% will use program
attendance data to reach out to
students and parents
• 83.2% or respondents say that
schools know which youth are
enrolled in programs
• Only 30.8% use school day
attendance to recruit students
who may need extra support
• 67.8% don't receive attendance
data from schools
• 60% are not sharing their
program attendance with
What barriers have you encountered in
advancing your work in this area and what
recommendations do you have for others to
overcome the barriers?
What is the role of policymakers in
advancing this work?
What Can Cities Do?
Partner with Schools to:
1. Analyze and report on levels of chronic absence
2. Make student attendance a community priority
4. Nurture a culture of attendance via public
education campaign, rewarding good &
improved attendance, & leveraging investment
in afterschool & early childhood education.
5. Identify and address barriers to school
6. Use chronic absence to allocate relevant
resources including afterschool programming
Promising Example:
New York City
• Interagency task force
• Celebrity Wake Up Calls & PSAs
• 25 Pilot Schools
– Principal data dashboard
– Weekly attendance review teams
– Success mentors (working w/15 -20
– Attendance Incentives & School Wide Events
– Collaboration with health dept, homeless
shelters and faith-based organizations
Available in June at
Reducing Chronic Absence Starting
in the Early Grades:
An Essential Ingredient for Promoting
Success in School
A Toolkit for Cities
Will include:
Guidance on 5 effective strategies
Templates for data collection
Sample power points
Case studies of exemplary efforts
Additional Opportunities in OST for
work around attendance:
• Peer to Peer Influence – Engaging youth as
ambassadors for attendance, support and facilitate
youth led campaigns
• Using a family focused events to educate
parents/guardians about chronic absence, the
importance of attendance
• Including education about common health problems,
like asthma in afterschool programs/building
partnerships with health service providers
Wide Angle Youth Media in partnership with the
Baltimore Student Attendance Campaign
What is the role of policymakers in
advancing this work?
Speaker Contact Information
Hedy Chang
Executive Director, Attendance Works
Jeanne Y. Miller
Director, SHINE After-school Program
Ellie Mitchell
Director, Maryland Out-of-School Time Network ( MOST)
Additional Resources
Attendance Works Web site
The Hours of Opportunity , Volume II
Compiled by the RAND Corporation, commissioned by the Wallace Foundation.
Study of data systems used by eight major U.S. cities as part of the OST system-building
Available at: or
AfterZones, Part II
provides extensive research on the impact of afterschool on school-day attendance as well
as tools and other resources
To be released this summer by Public/ Private Ventures
Study of the citywide middle grades afterschool system created in Providence, RI.
Part II includes information about the use of data systems to track school-day outcomes
Collecting and Using Information to Strengthen Citywide OST Systems
To be released this summer by the National League of Cities
Report focuses on strategies cities’ can use to infuse data in decision making when creating
OST systems
Contact Information
Bela Shah Spooner
Principal Associate, Afterschool Initiatives
Phone: 202/626-3057
Meeta Sharma-Holt
Phone: 202/626-3008
National League of Cities’
Institute for Youth, Education, and Families
1301 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004-1763