Model Chronic Absence Reduction Plans

Posted: Tue, 01/28/2014 - 9:25am Updated: Fri, 08/08/2014 - 2:26pm

Building on the resources prevented in this guide, the following prevention model is proposed as a guide for Indiana's school corporations. While each school will need to adjust various elements of the model depending on the availability of resources and partnerships, the model demonstrates the ways that effective early-warning systems, prevention programs, and intervention programs can be blended to improve student attendance. The program model is based on the assumption that a greater investment in prevention will reduce the need for expensive interventions.

Elements of the Proposed Attendance Plan

The proposed model has six components. First, the plan includes an analysis of the school's attendance data. Second, the plan includes a description of the school's attendance goals. Third, the plan includes a description of the monitoring and parental notification strategies that will be employed by the school. Fourth, the plan includes a description of the school's prevention program. Fifth, the plan includes a description of the school's intervention program for students who are chronically absent or truant. Finally, the plan includes a description of the measures that will be used to monitor the effectiveness of the attendance effort.

Analysis of school attendance data

While some schools may have access to centralized data systems that enable them to easily obtain attendance information, the assumption is that schools will need to work with data that they collect at their school site. This might involve a blend of information available in district sources as well as additional information collected directly from classroom teachers.

Key questions to be addressed in this section...

  • What does our school's attendance data tell us about our students' current attendance patterns?
  • Which students (i.e., student groups) appear to be missing school and how frequently are the absences occurring?
  • How does student attendance differ by student, family, and other characteristics that might inform our prevention and intervention efforts?
  • Where might interventions be most helpful given our students' current attendance?

Description of the school's attendance goals

In much the same way that a school improvement plan identifies specific sub-groups or student populations, the attendance plan addresses the group or groups that are most in need of support. To identify this group, the school or district will need to review relevant attendance data. This data may be obtained from the school district's student information system or from school-based records.

Key questions to be addressed in this section...

  • Which of our current school improvement goals most depend on improved student attendance?
  • What are we (as a school) willing to commit to in order to improve student attendance this year and throughout the next three years?
  • What are we (as a school) able to do to improve student attendance given the resources (i.e., people, money, and time) that we currently have?
  • What do we (as a school) believe would result in improved student attendance?

Description of the school's monitoring and parental notification plan

Before explaining the prevention and intervention measures that will be used by the school to improve attendance, the plan should explain how attendance data will be collected and analyzed. Additionally, the plan should identify how (at what point) the school will communicate with parents about their son or daughter's attendance.

Key questions to be addressed in this section...

  • At what stage (number of days) should we notify parents that their son or daughter has missed school?
  • How will our communication with parents be made, how many times, and to what extent will different methods of communication be used?
  • How will communication progress in the event that student attendance does not improve?
  • What resources (e.g., people, money, & time) will our communication strategies require?
  • How can we ensure that our communication with parents is sustained as student attendance changes throughout the school year?

Description of the school's planned prevention activities

The plan must provide a description that explains the prevent activity and describe the evaluation plan for the intervention.

Key questions to be addressed in this section...

  • Which activities will our school provide to improve student and parent awareness about the importance of consistent school attendance?
  • How will the activities be provided and by whom?
  • What will our school do to inform parents who are unable to attend school functions or events?
  • How will we differentiate our strategies to educate, inform, or impact different students, groups of students, or school constituencies?

Description of the school's intervention plan

Interventions are distinguished between school-based interventions and those provided by external partners such as truancy programs or the juvenile justice system. The plan should identify interventions available to students in the school and briefly identify any interventions available to students from the school district or surrounding community.

Key questions to be addressed in this section...

  • How will our school respond when student attendance becomes a serious concern?
  • At what stage (number of days absent) and in what form will interventions be provided? By whom? At what cost?
  • Which agencies, organizations, or partners will we enlist to support our efforts to improve student attendance?
  • What resources do these agencies, organizations, or partners bring and how might they be leveraged to support our school-based efforts?

Description of the evidence used in evaluating the plan

The plan must also state what evidence (measures) the school will use to evaluate the impact that the attendance program is having on students. These measures should be summative (i.e., yearly measures indicating what happened over time) as well as formative (i.e., routinely reviewed measures that are designed to assist the school in modifying the attendance effort).

Key to be addressed in this section...

  • What measures or metrics do we collect monthly or yearly that can serve as a measure of the program's effectiveness?
  • What measures or metrics do we collect monthly that can be used to inform the delivery of the program?

The proposed models adhere closely to the requirements outlined in IC 20-31-5, which defines what schools must do in order to establish a comprehensive plan to improve student attendance. Prior to each model, a descriptive account of a prototypical school is provided.

Sample Elementary School Attendance Plan

The sample elementary school attendance plan is illustrative and was developed to represent how a prototypical elementary school might create an attendance improvement plan that is consistent with IC 20-31-5. The plan was developed to address (1) students who are routinely late for class and (2) prevalence of chronic illness among students. As illustrated, the plan provides an example of targeted interventions that research suggests effectively improve student attendance. More importantly, the plan demonstrates how a school can move from existing data about student attendance to a clear, concise plan that not only improves student attendance but provides documentation that can be used to refine these efforts from one year to the next.

Sample High School Attendance Plan

The sample high school attendance plan is illustrative and was developed to represent how a prototypical high school might create an attendance improvement plan that is consistent with IC 20-31-5. The plan was developed to address (1) students who exhibit behaviors consistent with low levels of student engagement and (2) students who are disengaging from school because they do not perceive their academic courses as worthwhile or engaging. As illustrated, the plan provides an example of targeted interventions that research suggests effectively improve student attendance. More importantly, the plan demonstrates how a school can move from existing data about student attendance to a clear, concise plan that not only improves student attendance but provides documentation that can be used to refine these efforts from one year to the next.