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  • Erica Peterson

LEA Barriers to Effectively Supporting Student Attendance: Part 1

I was asked by the Los Angeles County of Education to discuss LEA barriers to effectively supporting student attendance as part of their, “Moving Forward Supporting Student Attendance” webinar series. While I’m certain I could easily spend a day discussing obstacles to staff work, I was given 30 minutes; so I focused on two barriers that I think are essential for LEAs to get right.

This post covers the first barrier as it represents a fundamental, foundational support that is missing in many LEAs—the lack of a systems approach. Don’t get me wrong, most districts think they have an attendance management system in place and may even pull out a flow chart outlining their response to student absences made using Smart Art but I gotta say, and with all due respect, that’s like playing checkers while everyone else is playing chess.

Continuous improvement systems include a feedback loop, providing data and comparative analysis in order to inform appropriate decisions and action. They set clear ‘if this, then that” actions with reporting to determine effectiveness (or lack thereof) and alerts to new issues or ongoing concerns. They are designed to improve proficiency and productivity while providing employees with a satisfying user experience. Effective system processes can lead the way to behavioral and cultural change.

We have found that districts typically have a multi-step, multi-person, multi-departmental, personnel-dependent way of managing attendance. This approach lacks fidelity, rigor, and equity. You can watch the clip from my conversation with LACOE discussing this issue below. Next week I’ll cover the second barrier.


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