How to Improve School Attendance

A Practical Guide for Schools and School Districts
A Project of the Los Angeles County Education Coordinating Council

Module 1: Attendance — 2

Spotlight on School Attendance

September Is School Attendance Month

In 2012, September was officially designated as School Attendance Month by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the Los Angeles City Council, and the board of education of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Thirteen school districts in the county participated with special programs and incentives for students to come to school, all using the I'm In slogan and logo: School Attendance Month Logo
All districts are encouraged to sign on in 2013, when more advance planning is expected.

Flyers, toolkits, and other resources are available on the SATF Tools page.

Student Recovery Day

One event during School Attendance Month is Student Recovery Day, a one-day campaign using volunteers to recover students who are not attending school. The Los Angeles Unified School District has held a student recovery day every year for the past five years, recovering a total of 4,233 students, including over 1,200 students in 2012.

For recovery day targets, larger districts will want to choose schools with high numbers of students who have not returned to school (dropouts) and high numbers of students who exhibit chronic attendance problems (potential dropouts). Schools that have the best outcomes are those with motivated support staff and administrative teams, and those that have a solid plan for providing the follow-up necessary for every student.

Preparation activities include:

eound bullet  Identifying school-site team members and other stakeholders

eound bullet  Meeting with the school-based team, stakeholders, and other participants to discuss logistics and identify roles and responsibilities for school-site personnel

eound bullet  Assigning team leads for each of the specialized teams/working groups

eound bullet  Coordinating the identification and participation of outside/off-campus volunteers and assigning home visit team leaders

eound bullet  Providing volunteer sign-in sheets, agendas, as well as basic training and materials for the teams

eound bullet  Identifying community partnerships for collaboration (community-based organizations, local school or police department, local businesses, churches, etc.)

eound bullet  Disseminating an announcement or memorandum to all students, parents, staff, and community stakeholders advising them of Student Recovery Day and asking for their support and participation in efforts to return students to school

eound bullet  Identifying targeted students

Square Bullet  Possible dropouts (those enrolled for part of the school year who have not returned, or those not attending the next grade after successfully completing the prior school year)

Square Bullet  'No-show' students (those expected to attend their feeder middle or high school)

Square Bullet  Students with excessive absences

Square Bullet  Dropouts

eound bullet  Determining which students should receive phone calls, home visits, and/or other interventions

eound bullet  Printing out the following on every identified student:

Square Bullet  Attendance information

Square Bullet  Basic student information (including address, phone numbers, emergency contacts, etc.)

Square Bullet  Unofficial transcript/grade summary report

eound bullet  Completing a list of all the students who will get a home visit, dividing them by geographic area, grouping them in packets of 8 to 10, and assigning a team number

Square Bullet  Provide a location map for each group of students.

Square Bullet  Use on online mapping service to 'map' the home visit route from home to home.

eound bullet  Preparing handouts of all of the resources available to parents (e.g., counseling, parenting classes, after-school programs, tutoring, health care, transportation, educational options, etc.).

On Student Recovery Day, volunteers report to the schools, receive a short training, and form teams for home visits, phone banking, resource/on-site recovery, and community and business outreach. Home-visit teams receive the prepared lists of students, and start knocking on doors to personally encourage students and their families to return to school. Outreach teams visit neighborhood businesses, speaking to proprietors about the importance of school attendance and leaving posters behind.

Each home-visit team produces a written report about every student they contact, and the school's PSA counselor follows up, does an assessment, and helps come up with an education plan and an appropriate placement for the student. Further information and step-by-step instructions for Student Recovery Day are included in the Toolkits section of the SATF Tools page.

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