Using DeansList, KIPP Chicago created a tiered system that has significantly reduced chronic absenteeism.
“It has allowed all staff members to see why students are absent, allows us to assign follow up calls and texts, and it gives us a clear, black and white tracking system of absences”
- Denisha Dade, Director of Operations
The KIPP Chicago network of schools needed a better system to track absences and monitor chronic absenteeism. Using DeansList, Denisha Dade, Director of Operations for KIPP Chicago, streamlined and simplified the reporting process. This effort gave teachers and administrators a powerful tool to combat chronic absenteeism and dramatically reduce absences across the board.
LIke many similar high-performing schools, the team at KIPP Chicago understood that keeping chronic absenteeism in check is a constant battle. However, across eight campuses and 2,900 studentsm they didn't have a single software system that enabled easy intervention.
Absences were tallied using specialized software, but the reasons for the absences were kept in a separate spreadsheet, and neither of these were part of the day-to-day system used by teachers and administrators.
Denisha Dade notes, “Without doing some digging, it was not easy [for staff] to see how many absences, tardies, et cetera a student had.”
As difficult as it was keeping track of absences, this divided system made it even more difficult for staff to know why students were missing school, which made it hard to address chronic absenteeism.
Chronic absenteeism is defined as students who have missed more than 10% of school days for any reason, excused or unexcused. Research shows that from Pre-K through high school, chronically absent students have lower test scores, lower course grades and GPAs, difficulty keeping up in high school, and decreased chances of graduating and college matriculation.
However, this at-risk group of students can become obscured when looking only at school-wide Average Daily Attendance (ADA) -- the average number of enrollees who attend school daily. For example, in a school of 350 students, 95% ADA can hide 53 chronically absent students, which results in a 15% chronic absent rate.
Most systems for tracking attendance focus on keeping ADA high, but KIPP Chicago knew that if they wanted to make a difference for their students, they’d need a platform that would allow them to catch students in danger of being chronically absent - before they’d missed too much school.
Using DeansList, Dade focused on chronic absenteeism by creating a custom system to monitor absences and the reasons for those absences. Unlike the disconnected system they had before, all the information DeansList provides lives right on the teacher’s home screen.
Instead of simply marking a student “absent,” teachers can easily see a student’s attendance history, whether their absences have been excused or not, and quickly assign follow-ups.
Following up on absentees can be difficult. Dade found that DeansList made this process more efficient and effective with a feature that makes it easy to prompt teachers and administrators to call students.
“The biggest feature that I like is assigning follow-ups. We have used the ‘assign follow up’ feature to have the next staff member on the organization chart call and push the parent to send the student to school. It creates a sense of accountability as well as makes attendance a priority for more staff members than just the office staff,” said Dade.
These follow-ups are only one part of the school-parent communication that Dade has implemented using DeansList. Custom-built DeansList attendance letters are also used to advise parents of missed days and the importance of student attendance.
In addition to connecting with parents when a student misses class, DeansList’s Weekly Reports that go home to families give parents the ability to see which days their student was absent or tardy, what their attendance percentage is for the year, and how that compares to the school’s goal for the year.
This open communication has enabled parents, students and teachers to take an active part in reducing chronic absenteeism.
From the administrative side, DeansList has enabled Dade to create a five-tiered system of intervention for chronic absenteeism. Using the five-tiered system, KIPP Chicago was able to:
Students need to be at school in order to achieve success. Using DeansList, Denisha Dade and the KIPP Chicago network of schools have successfully decreased chronic absenteeism and absences by 4.5%.
“It has allowed all staff members to see why students are absent, allows us to assign follow up calls and texts, and it gives us a clear, black and white tracking system of absences,” says Dade.
By offering parents timely and specific feedback, KIPP Chicago is able to encourage the whole family to understand and embrace the importance of attendance. Thanks to DeansList and Denisha Dade’s dedication, KIPP Chicago students are right where they need to be -- in class.