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Every Day Counts: Increasing Attendance to Improve Student Outcomes in Utah

Date: September 26, 2013
Location: Salt Lake City, UT

On September 26, 2013, over 160 Utah educators, policymakers, and community members spent a day working together to ensure that all Utah students benefit from attending school regularly. The goals of the event were for participants to:

  • Develop an awareness of the consequences of chronic absenteeism for student outcomes, particularly as they relate to students in Utah; and
  • Explore strategies that can be employed at the site or district level to increase attendance and mitigate the effects of chronic absenteeism.

Following opening remarks by Martell Menlove, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Karl Wilson, Director of Special and Federal Programs at the Utah State Office of Education (USOE), the audience heard national attendance expert Hedy Chang, Director of Attendance Works, frame the issue of chronic absenteeism and its impact on student outcomes and offer ideas for taking action to reduce chronic absence.

University of Utah researcher Kristin Swenson discussed a 2012 study on patterns of absenteeism in the state of Utah and its relationship to dropping out of school.

In other presentations during the event, Carol Anderson, Education Specialist in Special Education at USOE, shared a new resource for schools to assess truancy, and Karen Crompton, President of Voices for Utah Children, informed participants about the statewide Make Every Day Count attendance campaign.

A panel of representatives from Utah schools and community agencies shared their successes and challenges in reducing chronic absenteeism and improving student attendance. The panel, moderated by Susan Loving, Transition Specialist, Utah State Office of Education, included:

  • Jerry Haslam, Principal, Granger High School
  • Bobbie Ikegami, Out-of-School-Time Specialist, Utah Afterschool Network
  • Tod Johnson, Assistant Principal, Wasatch High School
  • Scott McLeod, Granger Community School Coordinator, United Way of Salt Lake
  • Richard Price, Principal, Bingham High School

A full-group activity, facilitated by Hedy Chang, provided participants an opportunity to inventory attendance policies and practices in their own settings, what data they need to collect to address chronic absenteeism, and what next steps they might want to take.

The event agenda, presentation slides, useful reports and resources, and the assessment tools may be accessed in the column on the right.

Every Day Counts: Introduction

Karl Wilson

Opening Remarks

Martell Menlove

Reducing Chronic Absence: What Will It Take?

Hedy Chang

Chronic Absenteeism in Utah

Kristin Swenson

Panel Discussion