- Interventions intended to improve attendance are more effective with students who miss the most school — at least 20% of the year — than they are with students who miss fewer days, according to a study released Friday by researchers at the University of Nebraska.
- Appearing in the Justice Evaluation Journal, a publication of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, the study shows that interventions — such as calling students’ homes, referring them to counselors, and creating individualized plans — reduced both excused and unexcused absences among those falling in the “Tier 3” category.
- The study, intended to evaluate the success of programs designed to increase attendance across Nevada, also shows that black and American Indian students, as well as those classified as "other," were significantly more likely to fall into the Tier 3 category, while white and Hispanic youth were represented across the other three tiers — 1A misses 6% of the year or less, 1B misses 6% to 10%, and Tier 2 misses 11% to 19%.
With states now required to report chronic absenteeism as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act, and many using a measure of chronic absenteeism as part of their accountability plans, it’s important for schools to know which strategies are most effective — and for which students.
The findings of the Nebraska study, which focused on 12 absenteeism programs used with 1,606 students in 137 schools, also confirm patterns noted in an Economic Policy Institute report released earlier this week. That report showed that Hispanic English learners, Native American and black students were more likely to miss three days of school within one month.
The Nebraska researchers suggest that educators and others working to reduce absenteeism prefer this “formulaic" tiered approach because it provides guidance on when and how to intervene. “It is critical that our systems determine the right time to intervene, especially considering the conflicting stances on appropriate and effective responses to absenteeism,” they write.
The study doesn’t necessarily provide guidance on which strategies were most effective, but the authors note that students in Tier 3 are more likely to be “justice involved” and that “most researchers advocate for a multidisciplinary approach that includes individual case management and ongoing support, as opposed to more punitive, single entity or one-size fits all approaches.”