EASTCONN Where Learning Comes to Life

New Website to Help School Teams Address Chronic Absenteeism

RAVITERI

EASTCONN’s Psychological and Behavioral Consultation division has created an innovative new website, Implementing Multi-Tiered Systems of Support to Improve Student Attendance. 

 The site, supported by the RESC Alliance and developed in accordance with Connecticut State Department of Education guidelines, provides schools with free, research-based resources that can help attendance teams address chronic student absenteeism and school refusal. 

 “Student absenteeism is a serious problem nationwide,” said EASTCONN Director of Psychological and Behavioral Services  Dr. Ravit Stein, who worked with fellow EASTCONN Educational and Behavioral Consultant Dr. Erin Dunn to build content for the new site.

“Research suggests this problem affects between 5-28% of students, with a significant correlation to a host of negative outcomes, including rates of incarceration, drop-outs, poverty and reduced social functioning,” Stein said. “For example, if more than 5% of your students are not in your building, you have a Tier 1 issue.” 

 “A major factor impacting the effectiveness of attendance teams is their ability to identify the needs of their specific school and provide early intervention,” said Dunn. 

“Once a student has a multi-year pattern of chronic absenteeism, our likelihood of improving attendance is significantly reduced,” she said. “As a result, one of the resources we provide on our
website is a way for schools to streamline PowerSchool reports in order to generate, track and analyze the attendance data most critical to outcomes.”

Stein and her colleagues have focused on early detection data because they believe that schools could employ a systematic approach to connecting with students when they show signs of   being at risk for chronic absenteeism. 

“Oftentimes, school teams are not looking for patterns in their attendance data,” Stein said. 

Dunn added, “We don’t see a broad continuum of interventions between a letter or phone call home and resource-intensive
individualized support.” 

  “Using the research-based approaches and resources on the website, attendance teams can start taking advantage of existing data, which most K-12 schools are already collecting through
student information systems like PowerSchool,” said Stein. “The intervention resources we provide on this site are essentially ‘plug-and-play.’ 

   “Once you use the data to assess the reason for school refusal, we’ve supplied the interventions, step by step, for kids who are at risk, including the materials to train and support staff, the scripts to help counselors talk to each student, and letters that can provide a home-school connection.”

“We have a variety of strategies that schools can use across Tiers, but one of the tools many of our partners have found helpful is the Tier 1 Self-Assessment,” said Dunn. “This tool helps schools identify ways they can improve and support attendance for all students, including those at risk.”

 “These are effective systems that can be put into place to support students who may be at risk for chronic absenteeism,” Stein said. “It’s our hope that this new website will help schools and students realize better outcomes.” 

To learn more, contact Dr. Ravit Stein at rstein@eastconn.org, or Dr. Erin Dunn, at edunn@eastconn.org