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7 Steps to Improving Student Attendance

By: Dana Britt on April 18th, 2018

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7 Steps to Improving Student Attendance


According to the US Department of Education, over six million students (14% of the population, or about one in seven students) missed 15 or more days of school in a recent school year. And the results on student achievement and future career opportunities are devastating. What are school districts doing to improve student attendance? In Education Elements’ new infographic, we compiled seven steps to improving school attendance. Here, we will highlight three of those steps.

Redesign learning environments and spaces

Our goal as educators should be to create school environments that are comfortable, practical, and flexible for our learners (think of an environment that is more college coffeehouse and less doctor’s office waiting room).

Ideas to try

  • Visit other schools you’ve heard have redesigned learning environments. Fulton County Schools (GA) have undergone redesign of many school buildings and learning spaces – one of our favorites is the redesigned library media center at Centennial High School. With flexible furniture and glass “pods” for students to grab for collaborative work, there is something for everyone.
  • Set up a tour of a startup or innovation lab to see the environments of the jobs of the future. During the Education Elements PL Summit 2018, we take educators to visit the campuses of companies like Google, Lyft, and IDEO to spark their imaginations and bring conversations back to their districts about the what and why of 21st century learning.
  • Host a classroom redesign challenge where winners in your district receive funds to revamp their learning spaces. In Syracuse City Schools (NY), over 40 educators submitted proposals this winter to win a grant to redesign their classrooms. Many proposals included drawings and essays from students about how the newly redesigned space would enhance the personalization of their learning.
  • Once you have a few ideas in mind, you could purchase or DIY flexible learning spaces for your classroom or school. A quick Pinterest search of “flexible seating” will set you up for hours of exploration.

Shift the mindset of school as a brick-and-mortar building

The red brick schoolhouse isn’t a thing of the past, but more and more school districts are considering ways to leverage new technologies to make learning more flexible and accessible to students.

Ideas to try

  • To support that type of learning, consider purchasing flexible content and tools that allow for students to work at their own path and pace. Most digital content platforms will allow students to work from home, and many will provide family logins or reports to involve the whole community in learning.

Improve teacher attendance to improve student attendance

One of the biggest hidden factors behind poor student attendance is poor teacher attendance. Help teachers model to students that excellent attendance is important through increasing teachers’ workplace joy and flexibility as well.

Ideas to try

  • Rethink the way you are hiring and retaining your teachers as well as the “shape” of your organization. There are great tips to help any organization function smoothly in New School Rules by Anthony Kim and Alexis Gonzales-Black.

Want to learn about the other seven steps? Download our infographic below.

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About Dana Britt

Dana Britt is an Associate Partner focused on leading innovation in the state of New York. Prior to joining Education Elements in 2015, she worked in the District of Columbia Public Schools for six years, first as a high school English teacher, then in the district office as the manager of educational technology. In that role, she supported the district-level rollout of blended learning across 111 schools and built up a particular expertise in designing district-wide professional development and selecting, purchasing, and adopting new digital content and tools. At Education Elements, Dana has supported schools over 100 schools in 16 states. She has led the implementations of Fulton County Schools (GA), Syracuse City School District (NY), Marion Central School District (NY), and Waterloo Central School District (NY). Dana holds a B.A. in English from Wellesley College and an Ed.M. in Technology, Innovation and Education from Harvard University. When not thinking about personalized learning, Dana enjoys rock climbing and training for her next marathon in Washington, DC.

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