ECED requested that the Urban Institute explore absenteeism in its early education Head Start program by performing two analyses: an analysis of absence data for chronically absent DCPS prekindergarten students to identify patterns, trends, and family characteristics [presented in a companion report by Dubay and Holla (2015)]; and an exploratory analysis of factors contributing to absenteeism for DCPS prekindergarten students, challenges faced by ECED staff in tracking attendance and working with families, and possible strategies to address these issues. This report presents findings from the latter analysis. The data were gathered through focus groups and interviews with ECED staff, an observation of a parent policy council meeting, interviews with researchers and experts from other school districts across the country, a review of ECED case management notes, and an in-depth literature and resource review. Because of the project's short time line, however, the data do not include the crucial insights that need to be gathered from DCPS staff (teachers, principals, and administrators) and from families themselves. We focus particularly on insights about the prekindergarten program, and thus are unable to delve into the larger systemic questions around school system policies and practices in which the prekindergarten program is embedded. As a result, the findings in this report should be considered an initial exploration of these questions. (author abstract)
Insights into absenteeism in DCPS early childhood program: Contributing factors and promising strategies
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