School Attendance Improvement StrategiesSelected school attendance practices identified as having a positive effect in encouraging students to regularly attend all their high school classes.
The following practices have been identified as strategies and activities having a positive effect in encouraging students to regularly attend all their high school classes.
- Clarify school standards related to attendance by making sure
high school students understand that any unexcused absence of
more than 30 minutes counts as an unexcused absence from school
by state law (Education Code [EC] Section 48260). This means
that "ditching" a single class for more than 30 minutes
counts as an unexcused absence during that school day. Three
unexcused absences of more than 30 minutes in one school year
makes a student a "truant," and parents will be formally
notified if their students becomes classified as "truants"
(EC Section 48260.5).
- Publicize the consequences of becoming classified as a truant
and enforce them consistently. For example, parents should be
notified they have a right to meet with appropriate school personnel
to discuss solutions to their students' truancy when the student
first meets the definition of a truant, and students should
be notified that they are subject to suspension, restriction,
or delay of their driving privilege pursuant to Section 13202.7
of the Vehicle Code.
- Monitor student attendance and absence through a computerized
attendance record-keeping system that keeps track of any unexcused
absences that are more than 30 minutes.
- Keep accurate attendance records that show who has been reported
as a truant three or more times per school year and what efforts
have been made to hold a conference with the parent or guardian
and with the student. After three reports are made on a student's
truancy and a conscientious effort is made to have a meeting
with the student and parent, make sure the parent knows that
the student is now deemed a "habitual truant" (EC Section 48262). When the normal avenues of school
intervention are exhausted, refer habitual truants to a school
attendance review board or a district attorney or probation
officer mediation program (EC sections
48263 and 48263.5).
- Place responsibility for verification of excessive excused
absences for illness on parents and students. If the reasons
for the absences are not verified by a doctor or appropriate
school official, count those absences as unexcused.
- Telephone parents/guardians in the evening or at work to
- Use bilingual aides to contact parents with limited English-speaking
ability and send out school attendance notification letters
in the language appropriate to the family.
- Make home visits concerning student absences if parents/guardians
cannot be reached by telephone.
- Install a telephone recording unit to record absence excuses
before school opens and to reduce the workload of the office
staff in the morning. Advertise the service in the local newspaper
or by letters to all parents. Distribute a small card, similar
in size to a business card, which gives the school's answering
service number and directions for reporting the reasons for
- Set up a telephone hotline in the school district attendance
office that allows community residents to anonymously report
apparent truants so that school attendance complaints can be
investigated pursuant to EC Section 48290;
include the hotline number on phone number stickers distributed
to the community with police, fire, and other emergency numbers.
- Refer students with frequent absences to a counselor, administrator,
or school social worker to diagnose the problem and recommend
solutions to alleviate the circumstances that are contributing
to the truancy.
- Post the names of perfect attendees in a highly visible place.
- Hold a drawing for special prizes donated by local businesses.
Use perfect attendance as the eligibility requirement for the
- Send commendation letters to students and parents for perfect
attendance and improved attendance.
- Seek small or large financial incentives from the parent
association to be awarded to the classroom with the best attendance
record; allow teachers to spend financial rewards for any purpose
selected by the class members or the teacher.
- Initiate make-up classes conducted on one day of a weekend
when a student is deemed a truant; use a "no-frill"
room on campus and establish an after-school or weekend study
program for students who fail to attend.
- Refer students with persistent attendance problems to a Student
Success Team (SST) or a School Attendance Review Team (SART),
which should include teachers, administrators, counselors, and
a school psychologist. Be sure that the parent/guardian and
the student both attend the SST or SART meeting.
- Initiate a "cross-age helper" system in which older
high school students with good attendance are permitted to assist
younger students on a weekly basis.
- Personalize relationships between children and attendance
office personnel; ask office aides, clerks, and secretaries
to make individual contact with high-risk students
on a daily basis.
- Develop an "Adoptee Program" in which teacher volunteers
make weekly informal contacts with high-risk students.
- Establish homeroom periods in secondary schools, with students
remaining with the same homeroom teacher all four years; make
homeroom teachers responsible for monitoring their students'
attendance records and discussing truancy with parents/guardians.
- Refer students and parents to outside agencies for counseling.
- Emphasize the importance of school attendance to students
with long-term, non-contagious diseases that tend to keep students
at home (e.g., asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, and sickle cell anemia);
encourage and support these students at school and make sure
these students are allowed to complete all assignments and tests
missed during legitimate absences that can be reasonably provided
pursuant to EC Section 48205 (b).
- Display attendance graphs in the faculty room to show attendance
comparisons between current and past school years and publicize
the loss of Average Daily Attendance (a.d.a.) funds due to unexcused
- Provide schools a pro-rata share of the increased a.d.a. funds
generated by their attendance improvement efforts.
- Set high annual goals for reducing the number of habitual truants and chronic absentees that are monitored throughout the year.
- Assess student attendance during the transitions from elementary school to middle school to high school.
- Evaluate school-level and district-level school attendance interventions for effectiveness.
- Focus on the specific school attendance barriers faced by foster youth, homeless youth, and youth with mental health challenges.
- Address the problem of chronic absences which appear excessive, even when the absences have been excused by a parent or guardian.
Questions: Educational Options, Student Support, and American Indian Education Office | CWA@cde.ca.gov | 916-323-2183
Last Reviewed: Thursday, April 7, 2016