Q: With record staffing shortages in school, how should districts prepare differently to manage attendance this year?
A: Districts should take a systems approach to address attendance this year. A systems approach solves a multitude of problems but I’ll address my top three reasons:
By design, a systems approach operates uniformly and consistently. The response to absences should be the same across all school campuses. There should be little subjectivity when it comes to attendance taking, absence coding, and intervention thresholds/responses at the Tier 1 level. New hires, shifting existing personnel into new roles, and hiring temps or subs without a strong system in place will introduce unreliable data, the opportunity for bias, and resultant disproportionality.
A system that utilizes technology and automation to ensure the work of attendance management still happens even when a staff member is out, will be a necessity during the opening of school. A completely personnel-dependent system will stop when people are out and we know there will be gaps this fall.
Finally, systems produce the results they are designed to produce. Systems must be easy to implement and understand. If systems are hard to implement, labor-intensive, or difficult to follow people simply won’t do them-- or at least not well.
Got an attendance question for me? Email me at AskErica@sia-us.com