Digital Promise Announces Nationwide Cohort to Address Chronic Absenteeism, Partnering With Communities on Innovative Solutions – Digital Promise

Digital Promise Announces Nationwide Cohort to Address Chronic Absenteeism, Partnering With Communities on Innovative Solutions

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June 17, 2024 | By

Digital Promise announced today the launch of Chronic Absenteeism: Insights and Innovations, a six-month program engaging 17 school districts nationwide in tackling the complex issue of chronic absenteeism through a blend of rigorous research, district-community collaboration, and multi-tiered approaches.

Chronic absenteeism—defined as missing 10 percent or more of school days—surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly doubling during the 2021-22 school year. In 2023, about 1 in 4 students was chronically absent. This growing crisis has profound implications for student academic achievement, engagement, and future success, and a sobering analysis from the American Enterprise Institute suggests classroom attendance may not return to pre-COVID norms until 2030.

The cohort aims to address chronic absenteeism with the goal of making school a place students want to be, with clear connections between school and students’ employment and career prospects. This must be a collective endeavor that hinges on the collaboration of schools, families, and communities. The following districts will work alongside their students and communities to investigate the underlying causes of chronic absenteeism and develop adaptive strategies to meet the unique needs of their students and their families:

  • Adams 12 Five Star Schools (Colorado)
  • Allentown School District (Pennsylvania)
  • East Irondequoit Central School District (New York)
  • El Segundo Unified School District (California)
  • Elizabeth Forward School District (Pennsylvania)
  • Greenfield Union School District (California)
  • Hudson City School District (New York)
  • Lynwood Unified School District (California)
  • Mount Vernon School District (New York)
  • Mountain View Whisman Schools (California)
  • NOLA Public Schools (Louisiana)
  • Richland School District Two (South Carolina)
  • Roselle Public Schools (New Jersey)
  • Spokane Public Schools (Washington)
  • Springfield City Public Schools (Ohio)
  • Suffern Central School District (New York)
  • Wilmington Learning Collaborative (Delaware)

The potential impact of this initiative is far reaching, with the cohort representing more than 210,000 students across the country.

The program, set to begin in August 2024, will be led by Digital Promise’s Center for Inclusive Innovation, which focuses on helping educators, students, families, and communities find solutions to complex challenges through co-leadership, co-research, and co-design processes. Gudiel Crosthwaite, superintendent of Lynwood Unified School District and a member of Digital Promise’s League of Innovative Schools, will co-lead the cohort, lending his insights and guidance based on the progress the California-area district has made in addressing its own absenteeism levels.

“The reasons why students miss school can involve everything from community transportation challenges to school academic barriers to family responsibilities. Addressing the challenge cannot simply focus on school or community,” said Kimberly Smith, chief inclusive innovation officer at Digital Promise’s Center for Inclusive Innovation. “Ultimately, the work has to be shared by school districts, community partners, families, and students.”

Chronic Absenteeism: Insights and Innovations will familiarize cohort districts with the Center for Inclusive Innovation’s proven research and development (R&D) model, connect them with leaders who have implemented impactful attendance tactics, and offer support with data analysis, systems and community conditions mapping, and student design collaboration. The work will culminate with each district developing a blueprint and tailored action plan that are deeply informed by context and community.

“Eliminating chronic absenteeism is not simply a matter of improving school attendance, but also ensuring students are having powerful learning experiences in school that are relevant, meaningful, and put them on a path to well-being, agency, and economic mobility,” said Jean-Claude Brizard, president and CEO of Digital Promise. “The enormity of this crisis requires educational leaders, community members, and invested partners to accept and play a pivotal role in addressing chronic absenteeism.”

To learn more about Digital Promise’s Center for Inclusive Innovation, visit digitalpromise.org/inclusive-innovation.

For press inquiries about the cohort, please contact My Nguyen, senior director of communications, by email

 

Editor’s Note: This announcement was updated on Monday, July 22, to include Greenfield Union School District in the cohort.

Photo Credit: Caiaimage-Chris Ryan

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