West Launches New Program to Help Schools Combat Chronic Absenteeism

We developed the Chronic Absenteeism Intervention Program to empower schools and districts with the low-cost tools they need to encourage school attendance and reduce the number of chronically absent students.

Chronic absenteeism – missing 15 or more days or 10 percent of the school year – affects more than 10 percent of U.S. students, with the number increasing in high school. Students who are chronically absent struggle academically, are more likely to drop out and often struggle later in life. Recognizing its impact on student success, 36 states and the District of Columbia plan to use “chronic absenteeism” as an indicator of school performance for their federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) accountability reports.

To help schools combat chronic absenteeism, West’s SchoolMessenger solutions today launched its Chronic Absenteeism Intervention Program (CAIP). CAIP combines the proven elements of SchoolMessenger Communicate, the most-trusted K-12 notification service, and SafeArrival, a unique student attendance management tool, with a set of professional services that support schools as they plan and implement a program to reduce chronic absenteeism.

The impact of chronic absenteeism is well documented. A U.S. Department of Education study, “Chronic Absenteeism in the Nation’s Schools,” revealed that students who are chronically absent in preK-1 grades are much less likely to read at grade level by the third grade, and a study of Utah public high school students found that even one year of chronic absenteeism was associated with a 7X increase in school dropout.

However, research and experience demonstrate that a tiered intervention approach can reduce chronic absenteeism, including by building awareness, encouraging families, providing support and engaging students. A recent Teachers College, Columbia University, experimental study of 22 West Virginia middle and high schools sent automated text-message alerts to parents about their child’s class absences, increasing attendance by 17 percent.

Building on this evidence, the components of CAIP are uniquely designed to help schools develop and deploy a customized, preventive family messaging program to reduce absenteeism that meets their local…

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