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Strategies for an Equitable Approach to Attendance and Enrollment

Chris Jones April 13, 2022

Chronic absenteeism continues to rise, and educators’ efforts to get everyone back on track have room for improvement at taking everyone—and their circumstances—into equal consideration.

In our recent ebook Equity Matters in Attendance and Enrollment Recovery, we dive into who, exactly, is most impacted by these gaps, and provide tips and strategies on how to employ a more equitable method to get all kids back in the classroom, especially those furthest from opportunity. Here’s a sneak peek at the content.

Who Is Most Impacted By Gaps?

The number of families who said their child was on track to be chronically absent from middle or high school in late 2021 were nearly three times higher than before the pandemic, at 22%, compared to 8% in the spring of 2020. In addition to the impact on learning, they’re also missing out on access to meals, supplemental services, and physical activity.

Students and their families who face significant hardships such as housing insecurity, language barriers, economic uncertainty, and other family stressors stand to benefit the most from equitable attendance and re-enrollment initiatives that use creative outreach strategies to go beyond a postal mailing. For example, they often experience basic communication barriers that schools can address by providing options in multiple languages and easily accessible formats like text messages.

Equitable Strategies for Reaching Students

Rather than taking a hardline tone (which is typically done in court summons or harsh letters), educators and administrators have an opportunity to approach communication with empathy and positively engage with parents in ways that will help resume daily attendance.

Given the complex nature of chronic absence and unenrollment, schools’ approach also needs to be comprehensive. In the ebook, we outline policy recommendations and tangible tools that can be implemented at state and community levels. All of them align with these goals of an equitable attendance and enrollment recovery program:

– Options to communicate in multiple languages.

– A way to reach families and students outside of a postal mailing address.

– A way to reach families and students in their preferred channel.

– Encouraging, empathetic outreach that help nudge positive action.

– Easily accessible information.

– 24/7 communications availability—with an immediate response.

Technologies such as artificial intelligence and chatbots can open up communication through two-way messages and 24/7 support in addition to automated reminders and research-inspired nudges. Best of all, they won’t add burden to school staff that’s already strapped thin, freeing them up to handle more urgent individual needs.

Access and download Equity Matters in Attendance and Enrollment Recovery here.

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