Attendance interventions for chronically absent students

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
  • This strategy can help address educational disparities, promote healthy childhood environments, and prevent violence. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve these outcomes are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program basics

  • Provides support and resources to address individual barriers to school attendance
  • Can offer support for physical or mental health factors, family conditions, or school issues, such as relationships with teachers or bullying
  • Poor attendance is correlated with delinquency, substance abuse, poor academic performance, and dropping out

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Proven (highest tier)

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Proven (highest tier)

Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps


Target population

All school-aged children

Program cost

Not available

Implementation locations

  • Nationwide

Dates active

Not available

Outcomes and impact

  • Strong evidence for improved school attendance
  • On average, school attendance improved by about 1 week
  • Program components and effectiveness vary
  • Intervention programs such as Check & Connect show positive effects on literacy, credit completion, and academic persistence in addition to reducing truancy

Keys to successful implementation

  • Note: This content is under review
  • Collect a wide range of data on student well-being to guide more precise interventions and identify whether students are missing school because of mental health struggles, family issues, social challenges, or community-based factors.
  • Address students' and families' physical and mental health needs.
  • Engage in family outreach to identify barriers to attendance and target interventions more effectively.
  • Increase student access to support services before attendance has become a major issue.
  • Reward school attendance with positive behavioral supports, like recognition from peers, award ceremonies at school assemblies, extra recess time, etc.
  • Refrain from punitive messages and measures, which are generally ineffective and often lead to counterproductive suspensions and explusions.
  • Engage with students and parents to raise awareness about the negative effects of chronic absenteeism.
  • Collaborate with the district and community to address attendance barriers and equip the school with access to food, health services, internet and technology.
  • In the case of virtual learning, prioritize fostering close relationships between the school, community partners, students and families in order to keep students engaged.
  • Establish attendance intervention programs for elementary school students with risky attendance patterns. Intervention programs that target younger children are more effective than programs for older students, as these interventions have a greater impact on improving students’ attitudes towards attending school.
  • Work with the school district to restructure school funding formulas to allow schools to use funding to hire child welfare and attendance workers, increase access to mental health services, and successfully record and evaluate their efforts and progress.

Similar programs

Resources