CSDE’s Ground-Breaking Research Collaborative Issues New Report Showing Positive Effects of Home Visits on Student Attendance
(Hartford, CT) - Today, the Connecticut State Department of Education’s (CSDE) ground-breaking research collaborative – the Center for Connecticut Education Research Collaboration (CCERC) (formerly Connecticut COVID-19 Education Research Collaborative) – released a report on the evaluation of the Learner Engagement and Attendance Program (LEAP) which showed the positive effects of home visits on student attendance.
The CCERC is a research partnership between the CSDE and institutions of higher education across Connecticut. CCERC was formed initially using federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to investigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on learning and well-being and recovery efforts in the state’s schools. The partnership is now being institutionalized to respond to ongoing evaluation and research needs of the CSDE, provide research opportunities for Connecticut researchers, and foster collaboration across the state’s institutions of higher education.
“We have made it a priority to remain transparent about the effectiveness of federal and state recovery funding used to create programs such as LEAP. This is why we created a robust and nationally recognized research collaborative to study and independently evaluate such programs,” said Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker. “These important evaluations and their results enable us to continue what’s working, refine what’s not as effective, and recommend targeted investments where necessary.”
“CCERC is a shining example of how research can make a positive difference. Bringing together researchers from across Connecticut's higher education institutions, CCERC breaks down barriers to produce research that addresses pressing issues in the state's schools,” said Morgaen Donaldson, UCONN – Neag School of Education, Associate Dean for Research. “This Collaborative is a win-win for everyone: the CSDE, researchers, educators in Connecticut school districts, and, most importantly, children and families in Connecticut schools and communities.”
“While many states are making big investments in educational recovery, we have seen few states dedicate as much to the evaluation of those programs as Connecticut,” said Jim Cowen, Executive Director for the Collaborative for Student Success whose organization has been tracking and promoting best practices nationally through its EduRecoveryHub.org project. “Releasing the LEAP evaluation so publicly is a commitment to data and transparency and a show of respect to teachers, parents, and most importantly students who will benefit the most.”
A new report released by CCERC shows the positive effects of home visits on student attendance. In April 2021, the CSDE and Governor Ned Lamont launched LEAP to address student absenteeism and disengagement from school due to the COVID-19 pandemic. LEAP targeted 15 school districts across Connecticut. Through the program, home visitors connect directly with families and students to establish trusting relationships, help return them to a more regular form of school attendance, and assist with placement in summer, after school, and learning programs.
Key Highlights in the LEAP Report
- For most students examined in this study, attendance rates increased by four percentage points in the month immediately following the first LEAP visit. Attendance rates then continued to rise in subsequent months, reaching an average increase of approximately seven percentage points for students served in the summer of 2021 and nearly 15 percentage points for students served during the 2021-22 school year after 6 months. These effects were most noticeable in the Hartford School District.
- Nine months after the first LEAP visit, students in grades PK – 5 experienced approximately an eight-percentage point increase in attendance. Students in grades 6-12 experienced approximately a sixteen-percentage point increase in attendance rates relative to similar students who were not served over the same time period, suggesting that the impact of LEAP was significantly larger in later grades.
- Results did not differ based on the type of personnel, school or community-based, conducting a LEAP home visit. Nine months after the initial LEAP visit, attendance rates increased by between approximately 15 and 20 percentage points regardless of who conducted the visit.
- LEAP visits that occurred at a student’s home or a student’s school had significantly larger impacts on attendance than LEAP visits that occurred virtually or on the phone.
- An analysis of the interview data gathered from home visit providers and families generated six themes they believed to be important in increasing student attendance:
- Personalized, Dynamic Support: Dependent on Family’s Needs
- Continued Training and Support for the Visitors
- A Process of Collaboration (e.g., Determining Caseload Assignments)
- Home Visitor Fluency in the Language Used in the Home
- Commitment to Establishing Connections with Families
- Collaborative Advocacy for Students (e.g., Parents, Home Visitors)
- Districts found the opportunities to collaborate and learn from other districts through the work of the regional education service centers (RESCs) and CSDE to be extremely beneficial.
- District leaders, home visitors and families noted that efforts to re-engage students who are chronically absent requires a sustained commitment over time. While large infusions of funding can help to support, and in some cases, jumpstart the process, sustained funding is likely a more effective approach to intervention.
- The vast majority of the 100+ participants interviewed saw LEAP as tremendously valuable.
“LEAP has created a valuable funding source so Hartford Public Schools can expand upon our ability to empower our staff to conduct home visits with families at more appropriate times of the day like nights and weekends,” said Hartford Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez “Connecting with our parents at times when they are more comfortable, and available, has led to more productive conversations and an increased level of student and family engagement.”
“Often in our work, the impact of what we do takes years to show up in practice. LEAP is an example of a wonderful interagency collaboration that addressed a specific need and had an almost immediate impact on the lives of students, parents, and educators,” said Jonathan Costa, Assistant Executive Director of EdAdvance. “LEAP should be a model for how challenges can be identified and met when people of good will have the resources and opportunity to work together to get the job done. Everyone at the RESC Alliance is proud of our LEAP partnership with CSDE and the difference it has made, and continues to make, for so many Connecticut families.”
In addition to the LEAP Report, CCERC is also releasing a Remote Learning Audit Report requested by the Connecticut General Assembly in Section 389 of Public Act 21-2ss. This report documents the successes and challenges experienced by educators during the initial years of the pandemic. The quantitative findings from this report delve deeper into similar findings from the CSDE’s student assessment releases in school years 2020-21 and 2021-22. In the lower grades, schools with the lowest share of in-person days had the largest declines in ELA and Math test scores. However, no differences on 11th grade SAT scores were observed based on share of in-person days. Additionally, schools with lower shares of in-person days had lower attendance rates; this was most pronounced in grades 2-5. Declines in attendance were smaller when students had more opportunity for in-person learning, especially in elementary and middle school. These results further affirm the academic and socio-emotional benefits of in-person learning for all students, but especially those in the elementary and middle school grades.
The ongoing mission of the CCERC is to address pressing issues in the state's public schools through high quality evaluation and research that leverages the expertise of researchers from different institutions possessing varied methodological expertise and content knowledge. Visit the CCERC website to learn more about the collaborative, partner institutions, and researchers.
For Immediate Release: January 19, 2023 10:15 AM
Eric Scoville, Director of Communications
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