Student Engagement

High school students with protection shields
High school students with protection shields. Photo by Allison Shelley for EDUimages

Often when talking about attendance, education leaders note that students vote with their feet, especially by high school when they are making more of their own decisions. Do students see a need to be in school? Do they see how it fits into their life plan? Do they feel a sense of belonging in school? When they are absent, does anyone notice?

Guiding Questions  

  • What does your district or school attendance tell you about students’ engagement?
  • What work are you doing to increase students’ drive to be in school?
Examples, Tools and Strategies
Strategies Aligned Resources

Provide a sense of belonging

District and school leaders already know the importance of making sure students feel a sense of connection when they arrive at school. The impacts of COVID-19 and the isolation it created makes this work even more important. District and school leaders should think about the structures and routines across classrooms that ensure every student feels like they belong.

This list + Add to Action Plan of connecting activities from Edutopia can help teachers build a culture of belonging within their classrooms.

Panorama gives a toolkit + Add to Action Plan for building and maintaining a sense of connection, even if schools or classrooms have to move to remote instruction.

Serve breakfast

This is a simple but evidence-based strategy. Ongoing research continues to affirm that feeding students breakfast is linked with better attendance and better academic outcomes.

Check out this guide + Add to Action Plan from Child Nutrition Outreach Program (CNOP) on how to start or expand a breakfast program across your school or district. The guide includes ways to create a grab and go breakfast or a more traditional program.

Gather the data 

When looking at why students miss school, go straight to the source and ask them!  Gathering the data will help to create the proper interventions to support your school community. 

The survey, Reasons for Chronic Absenteeism Among Secondary Students, by Amber Humm Brundage and Jose Castillo at the University of South Florida shows the most common reasons that students miss school. 

Use the survey + Add to Action Plan at your school to gather data on why students are absent so you can plan supports accordingly.