DC schools boost pre-K attendance with home visits
- Research makes clear that attendance matters as early as preschool, but getting parents to buy into the importance of daily school participation is a challenge, and some schools have identified home visits as an important strategy for doing so.
- NPR reports Burrville Elementary School teacher Rachel Wessler spends about half an hour with each of her students’ families in the first months of school, forging bonds with them, confirming contact information, and making clear how important attendance is to student achievement.
- Michael Katz, an Urban Institute researcher, found home visits to be an essential component of successful pre-K programs in DC because they help create connections between the schools and families.
Home visits are particularly common at the early childhood level. In the “birth to three” years, doctors, social workers and educators from a range of organizations try to foster good parenting skills that will set students up for success in school and life. These representatives focus on health, literacy and more. By the time students get to school, however, the focus on the home is severely reduced. Schools know how important parent engagement is to student success, but few allocate the resources to get into homes to encourage it.
The DC Public Schools are a major exception. The district’s teachers went on more than 12,000 home visits during the 2015-16 school year, a disproportionate share of home visits conducted in K-12 schools nationwide. Less than 1% of districts do them at all. But research shows they lead to fewer absences, better academic performance and better relationships between schools and the families they serve.
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