Attendance Engagement Specialists Making Strides in Reducing Chronic Absenteeism Across MSCS

Proactive Measures Yield Tangible Results in Student Attendance and Achievement

A multi-million dollar investment is helping to increase attendance rates at several Memphis-Shelby County Schools (MSCS). Attendance Engagement Specialists or AESs are new support staff members hired by the District this school year to support 25 schools in need of an attendance boost. They have emerged as key players in combating chronic

absenteeism and fostering positive change. Through targeted interventions and collaborative efforts with families, AESs are tackling the root causes of chronic absenteeism.

Attendance Engagement Specialists proactively identify and support struggling students. By closely monitoring attendance data and fostering parent engagement, AESs intervene to mitigate the factors contributing to chronic absenteeism, such as housing insecurity, healthcare access, and toiletry needs. From ensuring accurate identification of truant students to providing access to resources aimed at overcoming attendance barriers, AESs are reshaping attendance patterns within MSCS.

“I see myself not just as a district employee to focus on students' attendance, but as a guardian of students’ futures by understanding the complexities of each student’s life and working tirelessly to remove barriers to their attendance,” said Attendance Engagement Specialist Tyraun Stripling.

Data shows that AESs yielded improvements in school attendance in the fall semester. While overall school attendance rates only saw an increase of 0.8%, projected chronic absenteeism witnessed a substantial decrease of 5.9%. According to the state, a student who is chronically absent is “a student missing 10 percent or more of the days the student is enrolled-for any reason, including excused absences and out-of-school suspensions.” Notably, at-risk or near chronic absenteeism has dropped by 4.3%, underscoring the impact of AES interventions in addressing the needs of vulnerable student populations.

School-Specific Triumphs: A Closer Look

Several schools within MSCS have marked progress in attendance rates following the implementation of AES

 strategies. At Riverview Elementary, for instance, the adoption of standardized parent communication practices enhanced clarity on attendance expectations. Gardenview Elementary and Craigmont Middle recorded notable decreases in projected chronic absenteeism, with rates dropping by 7.8% and 8.1%, respectively. Similarly, Overton High School witnessed a 3.2% increase in attendance rates and a remarkable 15.7% decrease in at-risk chronic absenteeism, indicating the widespread impact of AES initiatives across diverse educational settings. 

“Having an Attendance Engagement Specialist at Overton High School has been transformative,” said Principal Reginald Williams. 

He added that thanks to their efforts, he’s seen a notable increase in student participation and academic achievement.

Attendance Engagement Specialists have spearheaded solutions to streamline attendance-related processes and enhance parent engagement. From developing attendance reports leveraging minute-by-minute data to introducing online absence submission platforms accessible via web and mobile devices, AESs have improved the approach to attendance tracking and intervention planning within MSCS. 

“Their proactive approach to addressing absenteeism has not only improved overall attendance rates but has also empowered our students and families to prioritize consistent attendance,” said Williams.

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