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  • Erica Peterson

2023 Resolution: Resolve to Improve Attendance

Schools just wound down the first half of what, by many accounts, was the first truly back- to-normal school year since the beginning of the pandemic. In spite of that, student attendance and engagement of many students are still down. At the end of the first half of the 22/23 school year, some districts are reporting chronic absences rates of double that at nearly 30%. So much for the return to normal.

Unfortunately, the New Year usually signals a resolution from districts of “no new initiatives” and anything new must wait until the 23/24 school year. Here’s the thing, NWEA reports —the achievement gap across diverse student groups is widening. “The continued impact of the pandemic requires focus, new strategies, creative solutions, and collaboration between educators and families,” said Dr. Chase Nordengren, principal research lead for Effective Instructional Strategies at NWEA. “For third and eighth graders, NWEA researchers estimated that full academic recovery in both math and reading was five or more years away” and this does not address the preexisting achievement gaps among low-income and students of color that existed prior to the pandemic.

"Each day is a new beginning, the chance to do with it what should be done and not to be seen as simply another day to put in time.”

–Catherine Pulsifer

There is much work to do to reconnect with parents and students. Key metrics like excused absences, unexcused absences, and chronic absenteeism are relevant indicators of student engagement. We have a limited opportunity to use ESSR funds to start new programs- now, not next year.

Editor’s Note: Want to start 2023 right and improve student attendance rates? Contact SI&A to learn more about The Achievement Initiative.


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