AEFP 45th Annual Conference Program
Chair:, University of Virginia
Chair:, New York University
Chair:, UC Irvine
Chair:, American University
Chair:, University of Pittsburgh
Chair:, University of Michigan
Chair:, Federal Trade Commission
Chair:, Faith Family Academy
Measuring and holding schools accountable for chronic absenteeism will change how schools address attendance problems. We know from two decades of research on test-based accountability that new incentives to measure and improve single metrics can contribute to schools narrowing their focus to “bubble kids” or diverting attention away from higher performing children who are well beyond targets. Reforms focused on technical solutions within schools can also pull attention away from efforts to solve structural problems they may contribute to school outcomes. This may be especially problematic in efforts to reduce absenteeism, which is primarily driven by individual and family factors. Therefore, researchers must consider how their methods of understanding absenteeism, the measures they use to define chronic absenteeism, and the messages they send through their research all contribute to a narrative about appropriate ways to manage this problem.
This policy talk brings together researchers and school partners to discuss how new research methods, ways of working with partners, and ways of communicating research findings can better support practitioners and policymakers in developing attendance solutions that are responsive to local needs. Panelists will discuss different perspectives on appropriate methodologies and measures, whether there are areas in attendance policy that have gotten ahead of the research, and how researchers and practitioner partners can expand the audiences for our work, recognizing that reducing absenteeism may require policy change in areas not traditionally seen as related to education (e.g., housing, health, transportation, crime). Questions that will be addressed include:
1) How can qualitative, mixed-methods, and collaborative problem solving research methodologies enhance our understanding of attendance barriers and potential interventions in local contexts?
2) How might approaches to addressing absenteeism need to be adapted to unique contexts, and what are the implications for research?
3) How might research partnerships support local development, testing, analysis of benefits and costs, and developmental learning about attendance interventions, both within and outside traditional education policy spaces?