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  • Erica Peterson

Don’t throw in the towel on this school year

I see light at the end of the COVID-19 “tunnel” as additional stimulus dollars begin to flow to districts and vaccines become available to educators. It is with this inoculation of hope I say “don’t throw in the towel” on attendance improvement this school year. (If you feel a pep talk coming, here it is.)

We are just over the halfway point in the school

year—meaning there are still roughly 5 months of school left. You CAN stop students who are currently chronically absent from ending their year that way.

Think about this: if there are 175 days in the year, any student who has missed fewer than 17 days year-to-date doesn’t have to end the year chronically absent. If you have new attendance initiatives, campaigns, or software waiting until next school year, stop waiting! Especially if you are waiting for funding. I get it, budgets were set and spent, but we also know every district has an attendance crisis right now. You don’t tell someone bleeding out to wait until later for a transfusion. And if I haven’t made my point enough, I have never heard an educator say they have less work this year than last year. Ever. Not during “good times” or “bad times.”

Additionally, I have never witnessed a state legislature passing ZERO new education laws or mandates each session. There is always going to be something new, always something else that is going to happen. In spite of this, we still have to act.

Implementing new initiatives now not only reaps immediate benefits to student attendance this year, but it also removes one more new program from the avalanche of new initiatives and campaign launches that monopolize the first month of every new school year.

While I can’t predict the future, I am confident that next year is going to bring its own set of unique challenges and pull on resources. Implementing effective attendance initiatives right now could provide relief to stretched staff, reach struggling students and stave additional learning time loss.

I am here to help. Check out the latest chronic absence analysis we provided the California Department of Education (CDE). I can connect you with this level of data for a clear view of your district's attendance challenges and the Tier-1 strategies to support them at

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