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
- Rethink where school can be held. From schools in shopping malls to districts introducing at-home digital learning days to make up for weather-related closings, more districts are seeing the need to create processes for anywhere, anytime learning.
- 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.
- Create screencasts and flipped lessons for students to review if they miss a lesson or need to review a concept over again.
- House your lessons in a learning management system so students can see them even at home (and eliminate the “dog ate my homework” excuse).
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.
- The new teaching workforce has grown up in the digital age and wants increased flexibility in scheduling, accountability, and roles. Why can’t teaching be an in-demand, job of the future too?
- Practice what you preach by incorporating elements of personalized learning in adult learning as well.
Want to learn about the other seven steps? Download our infographic below.
About Dana Britt - Guest Author
Dana Britt is formerly a Senior Design Principal at Education Elements, and is currently pursuing a Technology, Innovation, and Education masters program at Harvard University full-time. As a former high school educator and manager of educational technology at DC Public Schools, she has an interest in how districts select, purchase and adopt new digital content and tools, as well as how they personalize learning in their absence.