Originally Posted: eSchoolNews
Disruption in learning caused by COVID-19 is the reality that school districts face this school year. K-12 education is evolving from a brick-and-mortar learning environment to learning both in-person and online. While this shift is challenging, to say the least, it is an opportunity for school districts to use technology to engage, personalize, and challenge students.
In an edWeb edLeader Panel sponsored by EveryDay Labs, Michael Romero, Local District South Superintendent, Los Angeles Unified School District CA, and Todd Rogers, Professor of Public Policy, Harvard University and Chief Scientist, EveryDay Labs, talk about actionable strategies to help create the conditions for learning this fall, including using attendance data, effective communication strategies, and building strong family-school partnerships.
Every day and every instructional minute is sacred with our students, especially in this time of remote learning.
However, according to Rogers, 80 percent of parents/guardians with school-age children underestimate their children’s attendance by 50 percent.
This underestimation of attendance is a slippery slope to chronic absenteeism. Without parental/guardian monitoring of attendance, it is difficult for school administrators to intervene to increase student participation in their learning. Even in the best of times, chronic absenteeism can significantly impact education with low graduation rates, higher suspensions, and decreased standardized testing proficiency.
The chronic attendance problem that had plagued districts before COVID-19 was exacerbated once schools shut down in March 2020. According to Romero, there is no panacea or silver bullet to address this issue. However, Rogers’ work with EveryDay Labs has developed a personalized approach to connect with families and students in a collaborative way to increase participation and engagement in learning remote, hybrid, or in person. By planning fast, acting fast, and fixing fast, districts can quickly identify, design, and resolve highly challenging absenteeism issues.
Parent/guardian involvement and commitment is a crucial component of any district absenteeism initiative. A three-prong strategy—simplification, repetition, and transparent monitoring—developed at EveryDay Labs and implemented in Romero’s district, ensured parent/guardian understanding and participation in increasing their children’s attendance rate.
The first prong, simplification, establish a districtwide commitment with a clear message that student attendance in school, whether online or in-person every day, is essential to their learning. The second prong, repetition, involves daily phone calls from a live person at that school site when a student is absent. This consistent action ensures that parents/guardians know when their child is not at school and guaranteed school communication. Transparent monitoring, as the third prong, focuses on personalizing interventions. By identifying a targeted group of students with chronic absenteeism, school districts can reach out to families to determine the level and type of support needed at home to increase learning time.
Decreasing chronic attendance is critical to ensuring all students have equitable access to their education. Yet this can be a daunting and complicated process for school districts already dealing with the overwhelming challenges of online learning this year. However, due to their partnerships with EveryDay Labs, districts like Romero’s are getting positive results with increased student attendance, more students on target to graduate, and successful outreach to parents and the school community.