REL Report: Attendance Supports to Reduce Chronic Absenteeism

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In 2018, Rhode Island’s Providence Public School District (PPSD) implemented a student attendance policy that requires schools to track and address chronic absenteeism. Schools are encouraged to implement attendance supports such as attendance teams, leveraged partnerships, parent engagement specialists, nudge letters, phone calls, text messaging, and mentorship programs.

A new report from REL Northeast & Islands examined the implementation of attendance supports to reduce chronic absenteeism in 39 PPSD schools in 2018/19. The study compared attendance supports between schools in which chronic absenteeism increased between 2017/18 and 2018/19 and schools in which it decreased. The study also looked more closely at how implementation of one support—text messaging to parents and guardians of students—varied across schools.

The study found:

Schools in which chronic absenteeism decreased implemented text messaging, phone calls, and mentorship programs with moderate or high fidelity more frequently than schools in which chronic absenteeism increased.

The use of attendance-related text messaging increased more quickly in schools in which chronic absenteeism decreased than in schools in which chronic absenteeism increased, where the use of attendance-related text-messaging remained flat.

PPSD can use the study findings to update its student attendance policy and develop new recommendations for how district schools can use existing resources efficiently to reduce chronic absenteeism. The study also brings new insights to the research base on school use of attendance supports and could be relevant for districts and schools across the country.

Read the report at:*****

The Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs) build the capacity of educators to use data and research to improve student outcomes. Each REL responds to needs identified in its region and makes learning opportunities and other resources available to educators throughout the United States. The REL program is a part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in the U.S. Department of Education. To receive regular updates on REL work, including events and reports, follow IES on Facebook and Twitter. To provide feedback on this or other REL work, email

The Institute of Education Sciences, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the nation’s leading source for rigorous, independent education research, evaluation and statistics.

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