Promising Practices to Reduce Chronic Absence

Systemic Use of Data

In Vernon, the work to reduce chronic absenteeism began in 2015 when the call to work on improving attendance came from many quarters – from the superintendent, school board, school governance teams and each school’s improvement plan. An annual communitywide “Everybody in School Every Day” effort raised awareness with signs adorning the lawn of the superintendent, school board members and other residents.  The school district sponsored booths dedicated to attendance, distributing calendars to all and alarm clocks to students identified with attendance issues at community gatherings.


 The characteristics of Vernon’s efforts include:

  1. Data analysis -- Each of Vernon’s schools has a weekly attendance team meeting that includes the principal/assistant principal, nurse, school counselor, social worker, school psychologist, and special education teacher. Every Monday, the School Attendance Team meets to review attendance data. In 2016-17, Vernon staff is closely monitoring students who have struggled with absenteeism in the past. Students who were chronically absent in the previous year are being closely monitored for early intervention.
  2. Fresh tools and documentation efforts – Vernon uses an intervention pyramid which outlines their tiered approach to attendance issues. A monthly “heat map” highlights in bright yellow each grade in each school that has achieved average daily attendance goal of 95 percent. For the start of the year, counselors are focused especially on supporting students in Grades 6 and 9 through the transition to a new school.
  3. Coordination with community partners -- Vernon’s Youth Services Bureau, run by the town, provides a full-time staff member to work with elementary school students who have attendance issues. A district employee works with the middle and high schools. As needed, these counselors individualize the intervention, such as making home visits or referrals to other services. These counselors participate in the weekly school-based attendance team meetings. The Youth Services Bureau staff also sit on the District Attendance Team. In addition, the high school has established a Student Attendance Review Board (SARB). The SARB works to divert students with school attendance problems from the juvenile court system by providing guidance and coordinated community services to meet their special needs. The SARB is composed of representatives from the high school administration, support staff, the Vernon Juvenile Review Board, DCF, Juvenile Probation and various community agencies in the field of mental health and substance abuse.


Data Driven Prevention and Intervention

Strategy: Systemic Use of Data

District: Vernon Public Schools

District Snapshot: 3,204 Students; 466 Hispanic/Latino; 2,027 White; 359 African American; and 352 Other; 12 Schools; 10% chronic absence rate (2015-16) and 11.95% (2016-17)

Contact Information:   William Bilyak, Truancy Counselor, 860-508-6291, 



Adapted from Attendance Works. (2015, March 16). Vernon: Data-Driven School District. Retrieved from Attendance Works: