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Thank you for the helpful

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Thank you for the helpful tools. It breaks my heart to see some students chronically absent. I have had several high school students like that and I worry so much that not only are they missing education but that they are creating bad habits which will hamper them in college and in keeping jobs in the future. Your ideas are fantastic.

Educational Consultant/Author, Southern California

Teacher and front office

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Teacher and front office contact with parents is also an effective key to prevent absenteeism.

Proudly mocking educational reform since 1903

A blogger named Exasperated

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A blogger named Exasperated Educator wrote about this topic too: How Many Absences Are Too Many? http://exasperatededucator.blogspot.com/2013/01/how-many-absences-are-ac...

Deputy Director of the Learning First Alliance

Karen, Thanks for your

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Karen,

Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your concern. But I tend to view data more the way that Paul does - as a starting point to help us figure out how best to address issues that impact both communities and individual students.

Example: If a student misses three days of school a month, it might not seem like a big deal - she is there most days. But if we are using data and realize she is on track to miss more than a month of school in total, we then know we need to dig deeper into her individual circumstance. Maybe she is having frequent asthma attacks, or maybe she is missing school on days when her mom has to work a double shift. Whatever the reason, once we have identified the issue, we can help her address the challenges she is facing. Without the initial data, though, we won't even know to look.

Of course, as Paul pointed out, "In a perfect world, we'd have all classrooms with a 20:1 ratio and enough time to get to know students better." And we as educators must continue to advocate for the conditions we know are needed to optimize learning for each child. But until those are conditions in place, we can use data to guide our limited resources to where they will do the most good.

Director of Marketing for LearnSprout

Completely agree Karen. It

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Completely agree Karen. It might seem that many of us have been getting carried away with the potential for data, but we should not be misconstrued. At the end of the day it comes down to the human connection and a deep understanding of what's driving attendance. In a perfect world, we'd have all classrooms with a 20:1 ratio and enough time to get to know students better. Until that day comes, we can use data to identify which students are struggling the most. There is low hanging fruit in data that can help educators focus limited resources (money, time, attention) and answer questions like:

- Who are our chronically absent students?
- Which teachers are earning the most absences from their students?
- Which courses historically have earned the most absences?
- What week of the year are students most likely to be sick?
- Is there a geographic area where students live that is earning the most absences?
- What grade levels are earning the most attendance?
- What is the correlation between grades and attendance?
- Which period of the day is best to schedule Algebra?

Most of these of course, lead to the most important question: Why? Data is not the end-all be all, but it's a start to help us better understand where to look for answers. I am willing to bet that what we ultimately discover from data is more nuanced and complex than what can be solved with broad, campus or district-wide initiatives.

Early childhood education author/consultant

I am concerned with the way

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I am concerned with the way this, and other, posts about recent concerns about absenteeism are placing too much emphasis on analyzing data. I really think the focus needs to be on the individual children and families. Teachers and school staff need to be more in touch with the people than the numbers with strategies like these: http://languagecastle.com/wordpress/?p=327 . This is most extremely important when you work with families from different language and cultural backgrounds.

Director of Marketing for LearnSprout

Excellent and timely article

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Excellent and timely article Anne. It's good to see the issue of chronic absenteeism gaining broader awareness. One thing to point out is that typically, most administrators don't have the ability to pull attendance data and if they do, they often lack the expertise required to analyze the data they end up with. For this reason I am compelled to share our tool which allows administrators to quickly spot students who either are chronically absent, or are on pace to be classified as chronically absent. LearnSprout is free and takes just a couple minutes to set up.

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