Hi! My name is De’Ajha West. I recently graduated High School and am serving as a Summer Intern at AllHere.
As a marketing intern at AllHere, this experience has opened my eyes to the staggering issue of absenteeism that school districts face across the country. Absenteeism can often go unnoticed, and it isn’t talked about enough in student & family communities. As September, which is National Attendance Awareness Month, comes to a close, I took the time to interview to Phillip Shaver, AllHere’s Vice President of Client Experience. He is also the former District Attendance Coordinator for the School Board of Broward County. As a former Broward County Public Schools student, I was especially interested in hearing his tips and perspective about how schools and districts can start out strong and improve attendance to help both families and students.
Parents/Guardians and Students
As the phrase says, “It all starts from home.” According to Phillip, it’s important to ensure that families do all that they can to provide their child with a productive schedule that helps to keep them on track and on time to school. This includes: making a plan for getting to school on time everyday and confirming a back up transportation plan just in case of any last minute changes. It also includes keeping or posting a printed copy of the school year calendar where it will be seen (e.g., on the refrigerator, task board, and/or bedroom door) throughout the home. Whenever possible, parents/guardians should also make sure to document their child’s absence by calling in or sending an approved note, promptly, if their child has to miss school. It’s also important to update emergency contact information, so that the most accurate information is on file.
Districts and Schools
Phillip also shared tips that districts and schools could use to guarantee that students start the school year off with solid attendance. These tips include:
Making a plan for monthly attendance data reviews. This means identifying students who have missed 10% or more school days so far. Schools should determine if additional help is needed for each family using this information.
Speaking out on the ‘attendance health’ of the school/district regularly at public meetings such as PTA, school board, and advisory groups. Attendance data is relevant all year and should be a key point at these events in order to raise awareness.
Make sure that parents/guardians are both aware of and can easily access district and/or school procedures for reporting absences and tardies. Again, encourage parents/guardians to update their contact information in case they need to be contacted in an emergency.
With Attendance Awareness Month coming to an end, the team at AllHere wants to ensure that districts and/or schools across the country support parents/guardians with effective practices, policies, and systems to address chronic absenteeism. Keeping communication open and positive is the start of scaling solutions that can work for everyone.