Principal Cliff Hong knew that too many students missed class at his Oakland, CA, middle school, but it was not until he analyzed the data that he saw the picture clearly. Every day, 50 to 60 Roosevelt Middle School students were absent and as many as 15 percent of students were missing nearly a month of school every year. The absences were costing the school money because California bases its state aid formula on average daily attendance.
Within a year, however, Hong and his attendance team cut his absentee rate in half and saw his school’s standardized test scores climb by 30 scale points. How did he do it? A data-driven focus on attendance, engagement from the full community, and support from school district leadership were the keys to his success. His story is part of a growing national narrative of schools that are improving student achievement by reducing chronic absenteeism.