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  • John Franco

Attendance: Access To Education

Did you miss this amazing webinar? Recap and video below.

We are incredibly grateful to our school district leaders, Dr. Shumate and Dr. Randall, who shared their insights and time with us, along with Hedy Chang, Executive Director of Attendance Works, who shared her passion for advancing student success by addressing chronic absence.

The webinar jumped right into critical data and positive communications. Although measurements of attendance and participation may vary, the importance of viewing disaggregated data and missed days as missed learning time remained a constant. Dr. Joshua Randall, Assistant Superintendent of Sulphur Springs Union School District, agrees that attendance isn't about Average Daily Attendance (ADA) or simply "checking the box." As he said in the webinar, "It is about support and engagement at the end of the day. The old checkbox didn't have meaning in and of itself—it's what it stood for—the learning that's happening when the students are there."

...Looking at student attendance: Attending is their access to get an education.

"It's a life habit" is how Dr. Shumate, Superintendent of Troup County School System, explained student attendance. It's the student's vote for overall satisfaction is another way Dr. Shumate categorized attendance. Through positive communication with students and parents, his goal is to break down barriers and design an engaging learning environment that fits the individual needs of his students and their families.

Dr. Shamate shared how he is changing the paradigm in TCSS. "We don't approach it from the punitive stance. It's not always If-Then. If you don't come to school we're going to turn you in to the court system. We want to know what is going on in your family and how can we help you and what do I need to change about our school experience, or your child's school experience, to make this a better place for you all. And when you get to that route of it, now you get to the heart of the matter. And people—even though they're not always happy they're getting letters from us and phone calls—but they do respect that our intentions are in the right place."

"We would be doing a disservice to our own children," Dr. Shumate said of districts who aren't focused on improving attendance. Even with only a few months remaining in this school year, it is clear that we can still help students improve attendance and maximize learning time.

"If you're getting hesitancy [about non-attendance communication]," Dr. Randall explained, "It might be they're looking at attendance in more of a bureaucratic way, more of a policy way verses it being access for students to education, right? If you're looking at student attendance: Attending is their access to get an education. That's something that parents and educators should all agree on."

Want to learn more about the data our district leaders shared? Send me an email at for more details.

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