One Easy Hack for Improving Absenteeism? A Weekly Class Newsletter.

Dr. Kara Stern
2 min read
Young female student sitting at her desk in a classroom.

Student absences cost schools $10.7 billion per year.

Beyond the staggering dollar loss to schools, there is the staggering cost to the students themselves — in terms of performance, self-efficacy, and future employment prospects. While there is no easy fix, a simple school newsletter can make a difference.

Let’s break it down 👇🏽

1. A weekly class newsletter gets the basic info to families.

It might sound obvious, but actually not everyone knows to check the website or has internalized the school year schedule. Families new to the area or the US (or to English), or who are unable to participate in PTA or other school functions, might not know exactly what’s going on or who to ask. A weekly class newsletter that specifies when students are due at school & what to do if there’s a closure goes a long way.

Key point: make sure it’s translatable!

Excerpt of School Newsletter With Attendance Info

2. A consistent cadence helps build trust with families.

A school newsletter can be a proxy for a relationship. In the absence of actual 1:1, when a teacher’s update shows up in a family’s inbox at the same time each week, with vital info, it takes the place of a conversation. The families begins to rely on receiving that information and it shifts their relationship to the teacher.

In short: it builds trust.

Weekly Classroom Update with Shout-Outs for Students

3. Regular class newsletters allow families to support their children in all the right ways.

If families don’t know what’s going on in their child’s classes, they can’t support their learning in any concrete way. If their child is struggling, they might not know what help is available to them. Simply including regular info about assignments and school support systems is a great way to get the information home. And research is clear that consistent school communications improves student attendance, behavior, and performance.

Section of a Weekly Class Update with Info About Schoolwork

If a writing weekly class newsletter meant an uptick in NAEP scores, you’d do it, wouldn’t you? Get started here👇🏽

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Dr. Kara Stern

Dr. Kara Stern began her career as an ELA teacher, then shifted into administration as a middle school principal. Dr. Stern is a fervent advocate for equitable communication and family engagement. She spent five years as Executive Director at Math for America, where she designed the professional learning community that exists to this day. An unexpected move to Tel Aviv launched her into the world of EdTech where she became the Director of Education Content for Smore and then the Head of Education Solutions at SchoolStatus. Outside of work, she indulges her love for reading, devouring two novels weekly, with a particular fondness for heists and spy stories.

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