Chronic Absenteeism Model Policy

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Summary

This model addresses the rise in chronic absenteeism around the country by creating an early-warning system to help identify students who may be at risk for chronic absenteeism. The model also creates a tiered system to address absenteeism that utilizes universal, targeted, and intensive intervention procedures based on the severity of the absenteeism and requires each local school board to adopt an attendance policy in accordance with the provisions of the model. Finally, the model requires each local school board to create an attendance improvement plan.

Chronic Absenteeism Model Policy

Section 1.

(A) A school district Superintendent, or his or her designee, may file a truancy petition if it is determined that:

(a) A student subject to compulsory school attendance has unexcused absences totaling more than twenty percent (20%) of calendar school days or the same class after the first twenty-five (25) days of enrollment and thereafter; and

(b) Tier three (3) interventions pursuant to this Act have been unsuccessful;

Section 2. Early Warning System.

(A) A public school that serves any students in kindergarten through grade twelve (12) shall implement an early warning system to identify students who need additional support to improve academic performance and stay engaged in school. The early warning system must include the following early warning indicators:

(a) Attendance below ninety percent (90%), regardless of whether absence is excused or a result of out-of-school suspension;

(b) One or more suspensions, whether in school or out of school; and

(c) Course failure in English language arts or mathematics during any grading period;

(B) A school district may identify additional early warning indicators for use in a school’s early warning system. The system must include data on the number of students identified by the system as exhibiting two or more early warning indicators, the number of students by grade level who exhibit each early warning indicator, and a description of all intervention strategies employed by the school to improve the academic performance of students identified by the early warning system.

(C) A school-based team responsible for implementing the requirements of this section shall monitor the data from the early warning system. The team may include a school psychologist. When a student exhibits two or more early warning indicators, the team, in consultation with the student’s parent, shall determine appropriate intervention strategies for the student unless the student is already being served by an intervention program at the direction of a school-based, multidisciplinary team. Data and information relating to a student’s early warning indicators must be used to inform any intervention strategies provided to the student.

Section 3. Alternatives to Termination of Student Enrollment in School

(A) A student who chooses to terminate their enrollment in school under [insert cross-sectional reference] must be informed of opportunities to continue his or her education in a different environment, including, but not limited to, adult education and high school equivalency examination preparation and other interventions available to the student.

Section 4.

(A) “School attendance coordinator” means an individual within each school of a school district appointed to oversee and enforce the district’s attendance policy, monitor schoolwide attendance data, and work with individual students and the school’s child study team, in regard to attendance issues.

(B) “Tier 1” means universal, whole school attendance strategies for all students, including students who are absent for less than ten percent (10%) of calendar school days or the same class after the first twenty-five (25) days of enrollment and thereafter, for any reason.

(C) “Tier 2” means targeted intervention strategies for students who are absent for at least ten percent (10%), but less than twenty percent (20%), of calendar school days or the same class after the first twenty-five (25) days of enrollment and thereafter, for any reason.

(D) “Tier 3” means intensive interventions for students who are absent for at least twenty percent (20%) of calendar school days or the same class after the first twenty-five (25) days of enrollment and thereafter, for any reason.

Section 5.

(A) Each school board shall adopt an attendance policy. At a minimum, such policy must:

(a) Provide guidance and requirements for determining each type of absence, including excused absences and unexcused absences;

(b) Provide for the early identification of chronically absent students;

(c) Employ an attendance improvement plan pursuant to Section 7 of this Act;

(d) Require a student, or his or her parent, who intends to claim an excused absence because of pregnancy, parenting, or a medical condition to communicate the student’s status to the appropriate school personnel and provide any required documentation;

(e) Provide reporting requirements to schools;

(f) Include the rights and obligations of parents and students relating to school attendance; and

(g) Provide differentiation of tiered supports to schools based on each school’s chronic absence rate to include tier 1 strategies, tier 2 targeted interventions, and tier 3 intensive interventions.

Section 6.

(A) If a student is absent at least ten percent (10%) of calendar school days or the same class after the first twenty-five (25) days of enrollment and thereafter, for any reason, the designated school attendance coordinator shall report to the child study team that the student may be in need of tier 2 targeted intervention.

(B) The child study team shall notify the student’s parent in writing or in person of the student’s absenteeism. The notice must include a date, time, and place for the parent to meet with the child study team to identify potential remedies and inform the parent of the impact of student absences on student academic outcomes, the interventions or services available to the student and the student’s family, and the consequences of further absences.

(C) If a student is absent at least twenty percent (20%) of calendar school days or the same class after the first twenty-five (25) days of enrollment and thereafter, for any reason, the designated school attendance coordinator shall report to the child study team that the student is in need of tier 3 intensive intervention. The child study team shall notify the student’s parent in writing or in person of the student’s absenteeism. The notice must include a date, time, and place for the parent to meet with the school principal and the child study team to develop intervention strategies that focus on keeping the student in an educational setting. The child study team must establish a specific intervention plan pursuant to the school’s attendance intervention plan that includes establishing weekly progress monitoring and a contract for attendance between the student, the student’s parent, and the school, identifying, if applicable, appropriate specialized supports that may be needed to help the student address the underlying causes of chronic absenteeism, apprise the student and the parent of the consequences of further absences, including truancy proceedings.

(D) The school principal or his or her designee must consult with the student and the student’s parents if the alleged cause of absences from class is lack of student engagement. The school principal or his or her designee may involve a teacher as appropriate. The outcome of this meeting shall be documented.

Section 7. School Attendance Improvement Plans.

(A) Each school district must create a school attendance improvement plan and an absence prevention strategy.

(B) For purposes of this section, the term “school attendance improvement plan” means a tiered, data-informed system to identify students who are chronically absent and to aid schools in developing whole school prevention strategies and targeted interventions.

(C) The school attendance improvement plan must provide:

(a) Tier 1 whole school attendance strategies, which includes the designation of a school attendance coordinator and prevention strategies for all students.

(b) Tier 2 targeted intervention for students who have been absent for at least ten percent (10%), but less than twenty percent (20%), of calendar school days or the same class after the first twenty-five (25) days of enrollment and thereafter, for any reason.

(c) Tier 3 intensive intervention for students who have been absent for at least twenty percent (20%) of calendar school days or the same class after the first twenty-five (25) days of enrollment and thereafter, for any reason.

(D) The [insert State] Department of Education shall establish guidelines and requirements for such prevention, interventions, and supports for school district school attendance improvement plans that:

(a) Keep students in an educational setting when possible;

(b) Prohibit an out-of-school suspension as a punishment for absences;

(c) Assist a student’s family in removing barriers to the student’s ability to regularly attend school or provide another educational setting to such student;

(d) Provide additional educational opportunities and interventions to students who are struggling with attendance or who are chronically absent, including, but not limited to the following:

(i) Assessing the student’s and his or her family’s needs and, when possible, matching such needs with available programs or services.

(ii) Providing referrals to health care and social services providers.

(iii) Collaborating and coordinating with health care and social service agencies and organizations through available delivery systems.

(iv) Recruiting service providers, local businesses, and community and civic organizations to provide needed services and goods that are not otherwise available to a student or his or her family.

(v) Establishing partnerships between district schools and civic organizations.

(vi) Identifying and coordinating age-appropriate resources for students in need of:

(1) Counseling and training for employment and, if available, placement for employment;

(2) Family crisis counseling; or

(3) Mental health counseling.

(vii) Promoting family support and parent education programs.

(viii) Seeking out other services or goods a student or his or her family may need to assist the student in staying in school.

(e) Require each school within the district to document the following for each chronically absent student:

(i) Each attempt by the school to notify the student’s parent that his or her student was absent from class or the school day.

(ii) Each attempt by the school to improve the student’s attendance by talking to the student or his or her parent to identify barriers to school attendance, identify solutions to improve the student’s school attendance, and discuss necessary interventions for the student or his or her family.

(iii) Each intervention strategy implemented or offered to the student to keep the student in an educational setting.

(f) Require the collection of the following data:

(i) Each school’s overall absence rate.

(ii) Each school’s chronic absence rate, disaggregated by grade level and student subgroup including:

(1) Economically disadvantaged students;

(2) Students from each racial and ethnic group;

(3) Students with disabilities, as that term is defined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; and

(4) English language learners.

(iii) Student attendance for every day of the school year.

(iv) Performance measures for each tier group established in subsection G of this section.

(g) Place each school in one tier based on the school’s overall chronic absence rate and provide specific supports, strategies, and resources to each tier of schools. The plan must also identify performance measures for each strategy provided to a tier of schools. Each school must be placed in one of the following tiers:

(i) Tier 1 schools shall have a chronic absence rate of less than ten percent (10%);

(ii) Tier 2 schools shall have a chronic absence rate of at least ten percent (10%) but less than twenty percent (20%); or

(iii) Tier 3 schools shall have a chronic absence rate of at least twenty percent (20%).

(h) Provide attendance improvement targets for each school with a chronic absence rate of ten percent (10%) or higher and establish an attendance improvement target for the school district.

(i) Identify the potential root causes of chronic absenteeism in schools through one or more of the following:

(i) National or local research;

(ii) An analysis of supportive factors and barriers;

(iii) Student surveys or focus groups;

(iv) Youth participatory research; and

(v) Other appropriate school-based research methods.

(E) A school district’s attendance improvement plan must be reviewed and approved by the district school board.

(F) Each school district must:

(a) Annually provide its attendance improvement plan to the [insert State] Department of Education no later than forty-five (45) days after the beginning of the school year.

(b) Publish on its website the following:

(i) A description of the supports and resources provided to schools in each tier of the attendance improvement plan;

(ii) The extent to which schools with chronic absence rates greater than ten percent (10%) achieved their attendance targets;

(iii) The extent to which the school district achieved its attendance improvement target;

(iv) A description of the barriers and challenges to reducing chronic absence rates, as reported by school and school district personnel;

(v) A description of effective school-based practices that helped reduce chronic absence rates, as reported by school and school district personnel; and

(vi) Recommendations for improving the chronic absence rates in the next school year.

(c) Annually, by July 31, provide to the [insert State] Department of Education:

(i) The total number of excused and unexcused absences for each student in each school within the district, the total number of days each student was enrolled in such school, in which tier each student with absences fell during the school year, and each student’s demographic information; and

(ii) The number of students at each school within the district who were referred to another agency or service provider because of excessive absences, in both aggregate and disaggregated subgroups identified in Section 7.D.f.ii. of this Act.

(G) The [insert State] Department of Education shall annually collect information provided in Section 7.F.c. for each school and school district in the state and compile such information into a report. The report must include:

(a) The total number and percent of students who were in each tier of chronic absenteeism;

(b) The average number of excused and unexcused absences per student for all students and subgroups; and

(c) A calculated chronic absenteeism rate for each school district, including for each subgroup.

(H) Each school district must work with the child study teams within the district for the purpose of improving school attendance and creating the district’s school attendance improvement plan. Each school district must provide such teams with guidance relating to transportation and school scheduling options if such issues are barriers to school attendance. Each school must reserve time for personnel serving on a child study team to meet. The school district must provide support for such teams.