With help from Harvard, Palm Beach County schools lower absentee rate

March 5, 2019

The South Florida Sun Sentinel highlights the School District of Palm Beach County’s work with Proving Ground to reduce chronic absenteeism with a multimodal messaging campaign.

Palm Beach County schools have been emailing, snail-mailing and texting families with chronically absent children to urge them to send their kids to school. But they are finding that an old-fashioned technique works best: the backpack flier.

The colorful fliers attract attention with a large stoplight and an invitation to students to create an attendance goal, accompanied by an explanation of why kids who miss school can suffer academically. They have spurred a 3.2 percent reduction in absentee rates across the district, far higher than high-tech tools such as robocalling, emailing and texting.

These are among the results from the first stage of a Harvard University strategy to slash absenteeism in Palm Beach County’s schools. Harvard’s Proving Ground, part of its Center for Education Policy and Research, is working with eight school districts across the country to figure out the best approaches to curb chronic absences, defined as 10 percent of the days in a school year. Charitable grants are paying for the work, said Bi Vuong, Proving Ground director.


Read more at the South Florida Sun Sentinel.