Ten activities represented schools’ efforts to directly connect with and involve family and community members in ways that support student attendance including: Parenting practices such as conducting workshops about getting children to school, making home visits, and using contracts to commit parents to get their children to school.
Communication practices included: conducting parent orientations to explain school expectations and policies regarding student attendance, sending home newsletters listing the names of students with excellent attendance, giving families information about how to contact the school, and providing access to children’s attendance information on the internet.
Volunteering was inviting parents to attend award ceremonies.
Collaborating with the community included two items: bringing in speakers to talk about the importance of completing school, and connecting chronically absent students with a community mentor.
Longitudinal data was collected to examine the effects of family and community involvement activities on rates of chronic absenteeism. The schools in this study were part of the National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS) at Johns Hopkins University.
A cover letter and baseline survey were sent to key contacts describing the study and asking them to participate if their schools were using partnership activities to help improve student attendance.
Study Results: In particular, even after the strong effects of prior rates of absenteeism were accounted for, communicating with families about attendance, celebrating good attendance with students and families, and connecting chronically absent students with community mentors measurably reduced students’ chronic absenteeism from one year to the next. Also, schools that conducted a greater total number of attendance-focused activities were more likely to decrease the percentage of students who missed twenty or more days of school each year
Reference: Sheldon, S. B., & Epstein, J. L. (2004). Getting Students to School: Using Family and Community Involvement to Reduce Chronic Absenteeism. (Undetermined). School Community Journal, 14(2), 39-56.
Level of Evidence: Good