Featured News Apr 23

Decreased absenteeism: why teacher-student connections is the key

You can’t miss the headlines. Nationally in the New York Times—“Why School Absences Have ‘Exploded’ Almost Everywhere”— and in USA Today: “Why aren’t kids going to school? COVID taught them some bad habits.” Locally, too. Check out the Los Angeles Times—”Why are more students chronically absent in California, U.S.? Study examines troubling trend”—and the Tampa Bay Times—”Florida Schools confront crisis of chronic absenteeism.”

The high levels of student absenteeism are certainly not “new” news to school leaders and educators, who have also been dealing with many other challenges on their campuses, including lower test scores, increasing mental wellness needs and behavioral problems, and teacher retention issues. 

The state of our schools over the past several years, while concerning, has actually highlighted the need for new solutions to help students and teachers succeed on a broad scale. And recently, we’ve seen the tides shifting in a positive direction.

Building positive relationships is the ‘secret sauce’

The latest news marks a huge shift in a better direction for our students.

According to the Education Week article, “When Interventions Aim at Relationships, Academics and Attendance Improve,” “Building positive relationships may be the secret sauce for ensuring early warning systems are effective at getting at-risk students back on track.”

The article cites a recent report from The Grad Partnership, which details how a cohort of 49 middle and high schools piloted relationship-centered approaches and saw reductions in chronic absenteeism and course failure rates in the first year. 

The key findings are inspiring. The pilot schools that tested strategies to build connectedness reported:

  • Rates of chronic absenteeism dropped from 27.5 percent to 21.4 percent. 
  • Rates of students failing one or more courses dropped from 25.5 percent in 2021-2022 to 20.5 percent in 2022-2023. 

In Colorado, school district leaders have been meeting this year to learn from each other and address strategies around absenteeism, according to the Colorado Sun article, ”These Colorado school districts are testing new ways to boost student attendance after record absences.The article states, “Many of the districts’ approaches stem from the same idea: Strong relationships between students, their peers and their teachers are one of the most powerful motivators schools have in trying to coax kids to class.”

School communities can be transformed by building a foundation of connections 

The results of these pilot programs across the country prove that a focus on relationship-building leads to many school improvements, including decreased absenteeism rates and increased academic success. And that particularly excites us here at Along because this is the key tenet behind our platform: when educators build one-on-one relationships with each student, those students want to be at school, and they show up primed to engage and learn.

Years of research show that when students have positive relationships with their teachers, they are more likely to experience so many additional benefits including the development of positive social and emotional competencies, and more motivation in school.

Throughout this school year, we’ve been sharing stories from school leaders and educators who have all experienced positive impacts in their classrooms by building a foundation of teacher-student connections.

For example, Traci Powell, Executive Director — Innovation & Development for Pasadena Independent School District, shared that students at several campuses in her district using Along feel a stronger sense of connection at school. “I think the thing that stands out to me the most is when we talk to our students about Along, and we have conversations about whether they like it or not, is that most of our students can talk in depth about the impact that it’s had on them,” said Powell. “And, that they are appreciative to have the opportunity to build connections with their teachers.” 

You can also check out our blog for many more testimonials from educators about how Along has made a difference with students. If you’re ready to see what kind of impact Along can make on your campus, reach out to our team today! 


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