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Every Student, Every Day

Obama Administration Launches First-ever National, Cross-Sector Initiative to Eliminate Chronic Absenteeism in Our Nation’s Schools

In response to the President’s call to action to improve the lives of all young people through the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative (MBK), the Obama Administration is launching Every Student, Every Day: A National Initiative to Address and Eliminate Chronic Absenteeism. The program includes new steps to combat chronic absenteeism and calls on states and local communities across the country to join in taking immediate action to address and eliminate chronic absenteeism by at least 10 percent each year, beginning in THIS school year (2015-16).

Every Student, Every Day is focused on the estimated 5 to 7.5 million students who are chronically absent each year. Defined as missing at least 10 percent (approximately 18 days) of school days in a school year, chronic absenteeism puts students at heightened risk of falling behind and dropping out of school. Together, communities can address and eliminate chronic absenteeism, and ultimately boost student success and strengthen our nation’s workforce and our future prosperity. As part of this initiative, the Administration is partnering with states, local communities, and nonprofit, faith, and philanthropic organizations to support local, cross-sector efforts.

In launching his MBK initiative, President Obama issued a call to action to close opportunity gaps still faced by too many young people and often by boys and young men of color in particular. Building on the progress the MBK initiative has seen in addressing these gaps, Every Student, Every Day responds to Recommendation 8.2 of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force Report to the President, which called for a national absenteeism initiative.

As part of this initiative, the Administration has announced the following:

New Federal Tools and Resources to Address and Eliminate Chronic Absenteeism

·         Every Student, Every Day: A Community Toolkit to Address and Eliminate Chronic Absenteeism. This Toolkit, which includes guidance to help schools combat chronic absenteeism, from ED, HHS, HUD, and DOJ, is designed to support coordinated community action that addresses the underlying causes of local chronic absenteeism affecting millions of children in our Nation’s public schools each year. The Toolkit provides action steps and lists of existing tools and evidence-based resources to begin or enhance the work of addressing and eliminating chronic absenteeism. In addition to the departmental efforts to share this information, the administration will work to put the tool-kit and successful case studies for tackling absenteeism in the hands of community leaders through its community-led initiatives.

·         First-Ever Data on Absenteeism in the Civil Rights Data Collection. In spring 2016, ED will release the 2013-14 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), including the first-ever school-level data on all students across the nation who missed at least 15 days of school for any reason, which translates into approximately 8.5 percent of a typical school year. The CRDC will shed new light on the scope of the chronic absenteeism problem including where it is most prevalent and whom it most affects, and further catalyze efforts to engage students who are chronically absent.

 ·         Nationwide Summit in Spring 2016 Following the Release of New Absenteeism Data. The Administration will sponsor a national, cross-sector summit to combat chronic absenteeism in spring 2016 for states, school districts, and communities that are committed to implementing proven strategies including implementing early warning prevention and identification systems and cross-sector interventions and supports that connect students to meaningful education, health, housing, juvenile justice, and other critical services. 

 ·         New Technical Assistance for States and Local School Districts to Implement Early Warning Systems. Beginning in January 2016, ED will provide technical assistance to states and local school districts that are interested in implementing or enhancing early warning indicator systems that use student-level data—including absenteeism data—to identify and match appropriate interventions and supports for at-risk students, particularly those who are, or are at-risk of becoming, chronically absent from school.  This new technical assistance will be freely available to all States and local school districts across the country.

Public-Private Partnerships to Address and Eliminate Chronic Absenteeism

 ·         Public Awareness Campaign. To heighten awareness about this problem, the Ad Council, and the Education Department are spearheading a public-private partnership to launch a communications campaign to help eliminate chronic absenteeism and drive higher student achievement in and graduation from our nation’s public schools. This public awareness campaign will help educate parents and communities about the devastating impact of chronic absenteeism on academic and life outcomes. The campaign will target public areas as well as social media channels. It will also include the creation of a digital platform—a microsite—that includes materials and resources to combat this problem.

 ·         Mentoring as a Solution to Chronic Absenteeism. The Education Department, the United Way, Johns Hopkins University and MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership will sponsor a public-private initiative that will include the nation's first-ever effort to bring a data-driven, evidence-based mentoring model to scale targeting chronically absent students in high-need communities. This week, MENTOR will send out a message from Secretary Duncan to mentoring programs nationwide elevating the challenge of absenteeism and asking that the programs and their mentors make encouragement of strong school attendance a focal point. MENTOR will also provide guidance around ways to implement and integrate mentoring to curb chronic absenteeism and give guidance to mentors to help be part of the solution.

 ·         Virtual Summit to Help States and Communities to Identify and Support Chronically Absent Students. The Education Department is partnering with Attendance Works, the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, and United Way to host Every Student, Every Day: A Virtual Summit on Addressing and Eliminating Chronic Absence, a virtual summit on November 12, 2015 to provide school districts and communities  with strategies to improve school attendance, eliminate chronic absenteeism, and close achievement gaps, especially among youth who are, or are at-risk of becoming, chronically absent from school. Registration opens today to states, communities, and schools interested in combatting this problem.

For more information about Every Day Every Child, including video messages from Secretary Duncan on the national chronic absenteeism problem in both English and Spanish, go to http://ed.gov/chronicabsenteeism

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