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Attendance Matters Even More for Remote Learning

Joanna Smith June 28, 2020

By Joanna Smith, CEO of AllHere

If anyone would have asked me six months ago if I thought that schools would all be conducting remote learning during the 2019-2020 school year my answer would have been, very quickly, a solid no. No one could have predicted that our education world would have been completely turned upside down resulting in school classes being halted and remote learning put into place as the only option. It all happened so fast, very few if any of us, could have prepared.

This has all of us in education consumed with much thought about what to do going forward; what will and will not work and what opportunities, as well as obstacles, lie ahead. I can tell you that my mind is spinning with a mix of excitement and apprehension but mostly excitement and eagerness to help, on the important issue of student engagement.

As the founder of AllHere, I am working daily with school administrators as they adjust and adapt to a new normal, particularly around student attendance, absenteeism, and participation, or lack thereof, in this new, remote learning scenario.

You see, we still have the same need for attendance intervention, but with remote learning, there are new factors at play, no pun intended. 

Take some of these outlined in recent news stories…

  • The New York Times article; “As School Moves Online, Many Students Stay Logged Out” tells us teachers at some schools across the country report that fewer than half of their students are participating in online learning. The article further states: “Chronic absenteeism is a problem in American education during the best of times, but now, with the vast majority of the nation’s school buildings closed and lessons being conducted remotely, more students than ever are missing class — not logging on, not checking in or not completing assignments.”

To settle at a 50% participation rate seems unacceptable to me. Districts need to find a way to reach all students and provide an opportunity for each and every student to participate in a form that fits their circumstances.

  • As ChalkBeat.org states in their recent story “taking “attendance” in America’s schools has never been more complicated. With school buildings closed nationwide, what once was a straightforward endeavor has become something of an anything-goes attempt to track whether students are engaged. The stakes are high. Most students are poised to go without months of traditional instruction, and the learning losses could be significant — especially for those who don’t engage at all as schools attempt to teach remotely.” As a result, we are working with districts to redefine attendance intervention management for today’s all remote scenarios and for tomorrow’s mix of in-school and remote.”

This is the thing, if left up to students, attendance would be an option, not a must. We as educators need to ensure there exists the possibility to participate in the first place before we can make it a must.

  • And finally, as Din Heiman explained in his recent EdSurge opinion article, we continue to have an equity problem. “Protecting all learners by sheltering in place exposed the gaping inequities in our education system. Some students will rocket ahead, supported by remote technology, and available, thoughtful adults. Many, many more risk falling far behind. How we build technology for supporting learning going forward can exacerbate—or narrow—this divide.”

Equity is absolutely the issue. Equity has been a long-standing issue but now it is more apparent than ever before due to the distance learning status we are in. Even when school returns this fall, there will likely be an increase in distance or remote learning, or blended in-class and remote learning, and with that, the less privileged students will often have less access to technology, reliable wi-fi, parental support and, even the soft skills such as self-motivation, time management and perseverance.  

Chronic absenteeism and the factors that surround attendance are an old problem but with new nuances from the remote learning scenarios, we are now facing and must be managed by interventions that work to improve engagement and participation regardless of the learning location or format. 

Because we firmly believe that every student, every day deserves to be on track for success, we’ve been working — ever since we started our company — to make effective attendance intervention strategies affordable and accessible to all school districts. Today we’re combining artificial intelligence, technology enhancements, and new intervention strategies that target students remotely, especially the need to engage harder to reach, disadvantaged students.

With our solution, districts can now easily assign and manage evidence-based interventions across multiple tiers of support with a universal, targeted, and intensive approach. Administrators can collaborate with interventionists, support staff, and families using two-way messaging and video conference capabilities. Further, evidence-based intervention strategies have been adjusted to address remote learning and intervention to further guide staff with proven approaches.

Our enhanced features enable educators to more easily reach students and parents where they are, monitor the progress of individual students and groups, and provide guidance on whether more intensive or less intensive interventions are required to meet student goals. When a community’s safety and well-being are at stake, timely communication is key. Whether responding to unexpected events or monitoring ongoing situations, we’re here to make sure students and parents feel supported to attend and engage. 

Yes! the world has changed all around us and so must we. It is our duty to ensure all students get a chance to participate in learning and so we can not, must not allow a pandemic to get in the way. Today there is are attendance intervention solutions that are affordable and effective ways to strengthen student outcomes, boost staff effectiveness, and achieve educational goals, so students should not be overlooked.

Please do reach out [email protected] if you would like to discuss or please learn more about our AI-powered attendance interventions at scale here: www.allhere.com/products

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