Attendance and Truancy
Every day a student is absent is a lost opportunity for learning and connecting with others. Unfortunately, attendance rates have decreased in the last few years. Many factors contribute to reasons students may not attend, including factors related to the student, the family, the school, and the community or society at large. While teachers play a key role, everyone in the school building— from the principal to the front office to the cafeteria—plays a role in teaching and promoting attendance.
This page includes information and resources for schools and families to improve student attendance. Together, we can help all students improve attendance and achieve the full benefit our schools have to offer in Davis School District.
Schools are encouraged to use a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) framework in promoting and improving attendance. Tier 1 practices are implemented to promote consistent attendance of all students. Tier 2 interventions are provided to students who miss 10-19% of days (approximately 1 day/month). Intensive tier 3 interventions are provided to students identified as missing 20% or more of days (roughly 2 days or more/month).
Each school should have a MTSS team that oversees school-wide efforts related to attendance, as well as behavior, social-emotional learning and other school-wide practices. This MTSS team should be a separate meeting from the Local Case Management Team (LCMT) which oversees identification of students with attendance issues (10% or more days missed) and implementation of tier 2-3 interventions for those students. It is recommended that this MTSS team meets 1-2 times/month to oversee MTSS attendance practices. Additional information on effective MTSS and LCM Teams can be found here.
The Attendance Playbook outlines practices that research shows have the greatest impact on improving attendance in schools. This includes practices such as positive teacher-student relationships, greeting students at the door, engaging with families, incentives, and restorative discipline practices, among other practices.
The school's MTSS team oversees attendances practices. Several tools are helpful to this team in evaluating the school practices (fidelity) and impact on students (outcomes).
- Scan of Environment and Attendance Tool (SEAT) for Elementary or Secondary - Assessment of practices to identify strengths and areas to improve positive school culture and daily attendance.
- Foundational Attendance Rubric - USBE tool for measuring tier 1 practices.
- Attendance Problem Solving Tool - Actions and interventions for addressing barriers to attendance.
- Attendance Pyramid - Schools can record tiered supports and identifies areas of need.
Attendance Works provides many tools and resources for schools to implement best practices within a MTSS framework. Some of these are included here that your school teams may find particularly useful, for all grade levels (many in Spanish as well).
- Attendance Playbook: outlines practices for addressing chronic absenteeism
- Attendance Awareness Month site and resources – September
- Attendance awareness promotions: Banners, online badges, printable posters, and parent handouts
- Attendance incentive guidance/ideas
- Attendance Works Toolkit
- Student Attendance Success Plan templates
Chronic absenteeism, defined as missing at least 10% of schools days, is a combination of factors that include school, family, and community. Improving student attendance is essential for ensuring our students are on track to learn and succeed.
With a surge in chronic absenteeism in recent years, schools may need to consider innovative ways of improving attendance. Some thoughts for consideration can be found in this opinion article.
Lasting solutions to attendance problems may require long term strategies. Working with families is critical. Through positive messaging, everyone can make a difference by helping students and families understand that going to school every day and avoiding absences whenever possible is critical to realizing success in school and in life. Working with families, schools can also help address some of the barriers to attendance, such as health, transportation, housing, and motivation.
Several resources and information can be found below for schools to improve attendance for all students and intervene with students and families of students who have attendance concerns.
Strategies & resources for chronically absent students:
- Targeted home visits to support and problem solve with families
- Mentors and tutors to address academic struggles and provide a caring relationship at school
- Attendance incentive guidance/ideas
- Toolkit: Engaging Parents in Preventing Chronic Absence
- Student Attendance Success Plan templates
- Toolkit: Relationships Matter: Launching an Elementary Success Mentor Initiative
The Chronic Absenteeism Network, supported by United Way and REL West, have provided our schools with training on how schools can address chronic absenteeism. The presentation from that training can be found here. Contained in that training are some activities that a school team can engage in to identify contributing factors and how to prioritize what factors to address. The fishbone activity guides a team in this process of identifying root causes of chronic absenteeism. An example of this is below.
Teams are also encouraged to focus on those things that they have influence on that will have the greatest impact on student attendance. A quadrant, like the one below, can be used by a team to organize the identified variables affecting attendance and prioritize the variables to be addressed.
If your team would like additional training on how to use these tools and strategies, reach out the the student and family resources department.
The flow chart outlines the process of support and response to a student identified as having an attendance issue. Attendance interventions work best when based on a system of school-wide attendance promotion strategies. These tier 1 strategies can be found elsewhere on this attendance page.
Administrators can submit a referral to the student and family resources webpage for students who are chronically absent. Submit through the following link and a member of the student and family resources department will follow up with you.
*Before making a referral for truancy mediation please do a CCP with Brad Christensen in Student and Family Resources.
When to request truancy mediation:
- Any time you are concerned about a student’s attendance up to the point you would make a referral to JJS youth services and/or the juvenile court for truancy.
- Truancy mediation may also be requested after a referral is made to JJS youth services or the juvenile court for truancy.
- Truancy mediation is for youth in 7th – 12th grade and at least 12 years old.
How to make the request:
- After contacting the parent(s) or guardian(s) to discuss the need for mediation and explore three available dates/ times for mediation.
- The school will send a truancy mediation information sheet to parent(s) or guardian(s).
- The school will then fill out a google referral form request form requesting mediation. The google form can be found here
Or at this link
- The google sheet will ask for the following information
- School administrator or contact person with email address and phone number
- The school and school district where the youth attends school and county of residence.
- Name, date of birth, and grade level of student
- Parent(s)/Guardian(s) name and home address
- Three possible dates/times parent, student, and school administrator are available for mediation
- The local mediation coordinator will arrange for mediator and notify the school of the mediator's name and phone number.
- The school will confirm the time of the mediation with the parent(s) or guardian(s)
Who should attend the mediation:
- Parent(s) or guardian(s)
- All school staff involved with the student's attendance (principal, assistant principal, school counselor, school psychologist, teacher, etc.)
What to expect:
- All truancy mediations are held virtually via zoom.
- Students and parents can participate via zoom from their home or workplace or from the school.
- Room set up at the school - A separate room for the parents and student, with a laptop or tablet, is preferred so the mediator can see and hear everyone on zoom. School staff can be in a conference room together or in their offices.
- Plan on two hours per mediation (School staff are not required to be present in the room the entire two hours. The mediator will be meeting alone with the student and parent(s) during a caucus. It is important that a school representative with authority to make decisions remains nearby.
- If the mediation requires an interpreter, plan on three hours for mediation.
During the mediation the school contact person provides:
- School reports (grades, attendance, transcript) that can be shared with the mediator, student and family. This can be done with screen sharing on zoom.
At the conclusion of the mediation the mediator will:
- Type up the MOU (agreement) and screen share with all parties.
- Get a verbal agreement from everyone to electronically sign the MOU.
- Send a copy of the MOU (agreement) to all parties via email.
After the mediation the school contact person will:
- Monitor compliance with the MOU (agreement).
- Attach a copy of the Memo of Understanding if you make a habitual truancy referral to the juvenile court.
Contact Bart MacKay, email@example.com (435) 986-5754, with questions or to get more information.