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Focusing on Attendance in September: Why Now?

Kristen Diamond September 20, 2021

As of mid-September, schools across the U.S. are officially back in session. Not coincidentally, September is also Attendance Awareness Month. Getting students into the habit of coming to
class every day matters: Research shows that attendance patterns within the first month of school set the stage for the rest of the year.

Taking action to engage students and families about attendance is more essential than ever in 2021. Absenteeism, enrollment declines, and educational inequities have all been exacerbated by the pandemic. But the possibility of quarantines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 complicates the messaging. Educators want students to attend school AND be safe and healthy while doing so.

Simplifying and personalizing
Because chronic absenteeism is a systemic problem, addressing it requires a comprehensive approach that involves schools, families, and communities. But that doesn’t mean the solution needs to be complicated and burdensome.

To maximize the effectiveness of our approach, AllHere focuses on:
1. Simplifying content and reducing the effort it takes families to access support.
2. Personalizing information for recipients to make the communication more effective. Data that is specific to the students increases its impact.
3. Paying attention to the whole child and providing families with resources and support
to get past the barriers that may prevent attendance.

“What’s changing outcomes is our emphasis on outreach to families, restorative messaging, strategic timing, and 24/7 unlimited support with any barrier to their child’s attendance, said Joanna Smith, AllHere’s Founder and CEO.

Our AllHere Virtual Advisor is able to offload routine communication tasks from school staff and educators, allowing them to concentrate on students who need more hands-on and personalized support. We combine the relevancy and timeliness of communication via texting with the use of various artificial intelligence approaches – including mimicking cognitive functions and utilizing machine learning algorithms.

An approach backed by research
The reasons we chose this approach are summarized in our new research brief. In particular, we reference the work of Dr. Peter Bergman, Associate Professor of Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and a member of the AllHere Advisory Board. His use of data and computer science to develop scalable, cost-effective interventions that improve educational outcomes for youth is central to what we do.

Our AI-powered platform for automated outreach represents a universal strategy for encouraging good attendance in all students, offering proven efficacy for both in-person and virtual learning settings. It’s an innovative, novel, and evidence-based solution that increases student participation in school, reduces the dropout rate, and builds engagement with families.

In an era when the problem of chronic absenteeism is growing more serious due to evolving and unique circumstances, AllHere offers a simple, powerful solution to help families overcome barriers and ensure their children are present and engaged in learning, wherever that learning is happening.

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