Chronic absenteeism poses a significant challenge for schools nationwide—a problem that has adversely affected students’ ability to read, write, and understand math. These foundational skills are critical for students to succeed as they advance through school, careers, and life.

The resources featured in this Back-to-School Spotlight aim to help educators at the school, district, and state levels address a range of issues, including how to boost literacy levels; how to effectively teach math to all students, especially those who are English Learners; and how to ensure consistent classroom attendance among students.

For more resources, check out our Back-to-School E-Bulletin and Back-to-School web page, and be sure to register for upcoming webinars.

Upcoming Webinars on Increasing Attendance

WebinarsDate: October 11
Topic: Increasing Attendance and Engagement for Black/African American Students
Time: 2–3:30 p.m. (PT)

Date: December 6
Topic: Increasing Attendance and Engagement for English Learners
Time: 2–3:30 p.m. (PT)

The Science of Reading

Teacher and student in classIn this REL West blog post, Dennis Ciancio, Senior Research Associate at WestEd, explores the importance of comprehension in reading. Ciancio is a developmental psychologist specializing in literacy interventions for children and formative assessment of reading skills in classroom settings. He writes:

The science of reading combines both theoretical models and empirical studies of how people learn to read. Theoretical models summarize what we know (and what we don’t know) based on evidence from empirical studies and are useful in testing new approaches or developing effective instructional materials. The research is rigorous and replicable, not based on opinion.

It is important to note that the science of reading is not a product, curriculum, or singular method of teaching, such as teaching phonics. Rather, it encompasses rigorous study of the processes our brains use to learn to read, what skills are necessary for reading, how those skills develop over time, and how they can be taught to all students effectively.

Read the full blog post.

Math Lessons in Three Moments: Amplified Opportunities for English Learners

Math Lessons coverThis resource provides guidance and ideas for math educators, in particular, to reimagine how they facilitate lessons and engage English Learners in math content with high levels of support and appropriate challenges.

Using the Three Moment Architecture Lesson approach, math educators can accelerate the language development, academic literacy, and disciplinary knowledge of all students, particularly English Learners.

This resource is a valuable addition for any math educator seeking to provide scaffolds and structures that engage English Learners authentically in quality interactions in the math classroom and help them develop a deeper understanding of the content.

Download the brief.

Increasing Student Attendance Through Personalized Family Messaging

Example personalized messageWhat strategies can educators use to increase student attendance? A guide by the National Center for Rural Education Research Networks recommends using personalized messages that have four key components to communicate with families effectively:

Introduce yourself, address the caregiver by name, and include the student’s name.
Attendance status: Summarize the number of days absent in the past month.
Importance of attendance: Emphasize the value of being present in school.
Invitation to connect: Provide contact information for caregivers to communicate with school staff.

Read the full blog post.

Subscribe to the E-Bulletin

Stay informed about WestEd’s research, resources, services, events, and career opportunities by subscribing to our E-Bulletin. Our September 2023, Volume 1, issue explores top-of-mind topics that are facing educators in the 2023/24 school year. The issue features resources about the following:

  • The Importance of Comprehension in the Science of Reading
  • Equity-Driven Strategies for Ending Chronic Absenteeism
  • Preventing and Addressing Bullying and Discriminatory Harassment
  • Designing Math Lessons to Empower English Learners
  • Michigan Districts Prioritizing Health, Safety, and Wellness
  • Addressing Chronic Absenteeism Through Family Messaging
  • Making Data Meaningful in Educator-to-Family Communication
  • Meeting the Needs of the Whole Child, Person, and Community

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