Dear County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:
September is National School Attendance Awareness Month: Engaging Families to Reduce Chronic Absence
As we begin the 2023–24 school year, I want to thank you and your staff for all you have done to support our students and their families. This year provides the opportunity to create and extend positive and supportive conditions for learning that foster healing and growth and elevate the strengths of every student.
We celebrate National School Attendance Awareness Month to increase consistent student attendance throughout our state during September and the rest of the year. I urge you to use this month as a catalyst to launch and expand proactive student and family engagement campaigns geared toward increasing consistent attendance and ultimately raising academic outcomes.
Unfortunately, chronic absentee rates remain at an all-time high. Attendance Awareness Month is an opportunity to start the school year with information and resources that support local educational agency and school site efforts to successfully engage students.
The California Department of Education has partnered with School Innovations & Achievement and Attendance Works to offer resources to assist, guide, and support local educational agencies in these efforts. The following links to Attendance Works web pages may be helpful to promote attendance awareness and reengage families who have disconnected from our systems:
- Promotional Materials: https://awareness.attendanceworks.org/resources/promotional-materials/
- Social Media Tools: https://awareness.attendanceworks.org/social-media-3/
- Count Us In! toolkit 2023: https://awareness.attendanceworks.org/resources/count-us-toolkit/
These links to additional free resources are available through the Attendance Works website and the School Innovations & Achievement website:
- Showing Up Matters for R.E.A.L. toolkit: https://www.attendanceworks.org/resources/toolkits/showing-up-matters-for-real/
- Events: https://www.sia-us.com/events
- Sample back-to-school letter: https://www.attendanceworks.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Attendance-Works-Principal-Letter-042123.docx
- Handouts for Families: https://www.attendanceworks.org/resources/handouts-for-families-2/
- Proclamations 2023: https://awareness.attendanceworks.org/resources/proclamations-2023/
These resources can help us build classrooms and school sites where every student knows that they are an important member of the learning community. The resources also provide critical tools for schools to engage families with positive and supportive messages that encourage consistent attendance. When students and families know their attendance matters, we see significant increases in attendance rates and corresponding gains in academic indicators.
Thank you for your efforts to make National School Attendance Awareness Month meaningful and successful.
If you have any questions about this important campaign, please contact Jacie Ragland, Education Administrator, Educational Options Office, at JRagland@cde.ca.gov.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction