Promising Practices to Reduce Chronic Absence

Cultivating a Culture of Attendance

In response to a 2014-15 district chronic absence rate of 10.8%, Bristol Public Schools took up the fight against chronic absence with a cross-sector initiative aimed at helping schools address and solve the root causes of absenteeism.  At the beginning of the 2015-16 school year, the district implemented a districtwide marketing campaign and attendance incentive program using a variety of grants including a grant from the Bristol Education Foundation. 

The components of Bristol’s attendance awareness campaign include:

  1. A districtwide marketing campaign – To raise awareness of the importance of daily attendance, Bristol Public Schools piloted a districtwide “Attendance Counts” campaign. The district purchased vibrant 8’x6’ “Attendance Counts” signs to hang at the entrance of each school. The district also distributed posters to businesses and organizations across the city to reach families in the community. In addition, to remind families in their own homes, the district distributed “Attendance Counts” refrigerator magnets at prekindergarten and kindergarten registration. The majority of campaign materials are in both English and Spanish in order to reflect the demographics of students and their families.
  2. Incentives – To increase enthusiasm among students, district truancy officer, Erika Treannie, spearheaded an attendance competition among elementary schools. The school with the highest attendance of both teachers and students can win the district attendance trophy, which travels between schools on a monthly basis.
  3. Interventions – At the high schools, school counselors, social workers and the truancy officer work to identify the challenges for the student and implement individualized attendance plans. In order to support students and families, district staff met one-on-one with 409 families.  At the high schools, peer mentoring groups were formed and every freshman is now matched with student mentor from either Grade 10 or Grade 11.

Cultivating a Culture of Attendance

Districtwide marketing campaign

District: Bristol Public Schools

District Snapshot: 8,073 Students; 5,032 White; 2,004 Hispanic/Latino; 667 Black or African-American; 327 Asian; 18 American Indian or Alaska Native; 12 Two or More Races; 14 schools Grades PK-12; 8.7% chronic absence rate (2015-16) and 8.0% (2016-17)

Contact: Sarah Mitchell, Program Coordinator, School Partnerships,, 860-584-7043