• Erica Peterson

Are You Telling the Right Story?



From K-12Dive, to the L.A. Times, to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the New Jersey Monitor, or the NY Post every day there is a news story covering how schools across the country are open but seats in classrooms are empty. The media spotlight is creating an imperative for districts to lead with attendance re-engagement strategies as we move out of the pandemic to endemic status. And while most, if not all, districts do focus on attendance, many do so quietly without fanfare.


This the exact opposite of what district should be doing. Stop worrying about how your district will look when you get a media inquiry about high absenteeism. Instead embrace the ugly and call on your families and community to get kids back in class.


When districts implement our attendance management system, The Achievement Initiative, our FIRST deliverable is always a press release. Why? Because driving positive student outcomes requires enlisting and engaging our families, and as marketing and communication experts, we know the influence local media outlets have to support our attendance improvement work. Don’t just take my word for it. "We almost need to double down on our attendance efforts," says Marguerite Roza, education finance policy expert and director of Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University. "So I don't think this is a great time to say we'll just ignore it. Because, while that might be a pro-district policy, it's an anti-learning policy."

Stop worrying about how your district will look when you get a media inquiry about high absenteeism. Instead embrace the ugly and call on your families and community to get kids back in class.

We have a generational problem that will take years’ long investment and a process that grows and evolves over time to get students back on track. Kathleen Ehling, an assistant commissioner for the New Jersey Department of Education, says “It’ll be years before we know exactly the whole impact, but we need to make sure we are making investments now so we can support our students moving forward.”


A data-driven attendance plan that leads with equity as part of the process, works irrespective of staffing changes and budget windfalls or shortfalls, and will pave the way to student learning recovery.


Read some of our press releases and leadership articles here.