top of page
  • John Franco

SI&A Confirms Alarming Trends in Distance Learning; Early Data on Chronic Absenteeism

November 19, 2020

The California Department of Education (CDE) reaches out to School Innovations & Achievement (SI&A) for an early analysis on chronic absenteeism. With over 10 years' experience in K-12 attendance management, SI&A is a leading provider of data trends and data analytics. SI&A's early data reveals attendance taking practices must be modified.

El Dorado Hills, CA, November 19, 2020 --( Due to school closures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, distance learning has created a set of never-encountered challenges for K-12 school district leaders, including high rates of absenteeism and lack of participation resulting in lost learning time.

The preliminary figures from SI&A’s multi-district absenteeism report are alarming.

When the California State Superintendent wanted a preliminary view of chronic absenteeism, the California Department of Education (CDE) reached out to School Innovations & Achievement (SI&A) to provide an analysis of early chronic absenteeism. "Monitoring which students attend or participate in class, whether school is in-person, virtual or a blend, offers the best data currently available during these first few weeks of school to show whether instruction is reaching and engaging students. Schools and community partners can use data, even with changes in the definition of attendance, to see which students and families need support to resolve attendance barriers before students fall too far behind," says Hedy Chang, executive director, Attendance Works, a non-profit initiative dedicated to advancing student success and helping close equity gaps by reducing chronic absence. Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing ten percent or more of the academic year for any reason.

With more than ten years in K-12 attendance management and over 2.5 million students in their data sample, SI&A is a leading provider of data and data analytics. Their district partners who utilize their multi-tiered system of support for attendance, The Achievement Initiative, including their software and service, Attention2Attendance (A2A), historically outperform non-A2A clients by 8-12%.

The preliminary figures from SI&A’s multi-district absenteeism report are alarming.

The highest increases are occurring for:

  • Elementary School District types with an estimated increase of more than 220%

  • Grades 6-9 known as the “transition years”

  • Grades 2-4 where reading skill acquisition is critical

  • Minority students, disproportionally affected with an increase ranging from 132% to 193%

This digital divide translates into a huge number of missing students and real concerns over lost learning time and lack of student engagement. SI&A’s report, “Preliminary Chronic Absence Patterns & Trends Analysis,” is based on data from 343,000 students from the 2019-2020 school year through the beginning of Oct. 2019 as compared to the 2020-2021 school year through the beginning of Oct. 2020. This data incorporated 33 California school districts (11 Elementary School Districts, 6 High School Districts & 16 Unified School Districts) within 18 California counties (Fresno, Humboldt, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Merced, Monterey, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Sutter, Tulare, Ventura & Yuba). SI&A's multi-tiered system of support for attendance, The Achievement Initiative, provides promising practices to identify and implement effective interventions to reengage “disconnected” students and families. Data informs action. Districts need uniform and consistent processes to track participation and daily class attendance to support student success. SI&A's groundbreaking data analysis reveals districts need to:

  • Embrace the challenging data and determine what changes are necessary

  • Expand absence reason codes for remote learning absences

  • Understand why student are missing, what specific issues exist

  • Know how many students are affected by the specific issues

  • Match students and families to the appropriate resources and re-engagement strategies

SI&A’s data analysis confirms multiple reports that underscore the ways in which distance learning and attendance tracking is suffering. An LA Times article reports, “About 15,000 Los Angeles high school students are absent online and have failed to do any schoolwork while more than 40,000 have not been in daily contact with their teachers since March 16, when the coronavirus forced campus shutdowns.” A study from the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) projects that students who lack steady instruction during the coronavirus school shutdown might retain only 70 percent of their annual reading gains as compared to a normal year. At-risk and marginalized students are most impacted at this time, heavily affected by the digital divide. According to McKinsey & Company, due to school closures and remote learning through the 2020-21 school year, black students may fall behind by 10.3 months, Hispanic students by 9.2 months and low-income students by more than a year. They estimate that this would exacerbate existing achievement gaps by 15 to 20 percent. About SI&A School Innovations & Achievement (SI&A) is driving critical positive change in student outcomes through their award-winning software and service solutions for K-12 school districts. With more than ten years in K-12 attendance management and over 2.5 million students in their data sample, SI&A is the leading provider of data and data analytics. SI&A’s many innovative programs utilize their core competencies of data analytics, software development, organizational effectiveness, communication/messaging, along with attendance and compliance expertise. Their flagship product, The Achievement Initiative, utilizes a multi-tier approach that increases learning time, decreases dropouts and all of but eliminates the achievement gap in graduation rates. For more information on School Innovations & Achievement (SI&A),, LinkedIn, or @K12Achievement on Facebook and Twitter.

bottom of page