kids working in school district

Creative Ways to Improve School Attendance

After all the lesson planning and class preparation that teachers do to help students succeed, sometimes the biggest challenge is just getting students to show up. Studies show that students who miss school score lower on standardized tests and are ultimately less likely to graduate from high school. Attendance is particularly important for students in low-income areas, where missing school can have more of a negative influence than it does on their more affluent peers. Conversely, students who attend school regularly have higher rates of success and a positive impact on their community.


Aside from the traditional approaches (attendance tracking, early intervention, etc.) school districts should begin thinking bigger picture. Schools and universities are often fundamental centers of the community. By developing unused or underused property, school districts can generate income, boost their public profile, and leverage their influence to shape communities that support students.

One way to use surplus school property is to create workforce housing, making it possible for teachers to live in the same communities as their students. Less than one percent of teachers in San Francisco can afford to buy a home in the current market, which means many are forced to pay high rents or live far away. Providing subsidized housing can ease the burden, leaving more time for after-school study help, mentoring and activities that all contribute to students’ engagement.

Leveraging workforce housing as a recruitment tool is another good way to increase attendance. Higher-quality teachers, who can be attracted and retained by subsidized housing, have been shown to reduce dropout rates. Teachers who stay in the school district are more likely to have positive, lasting relationships with students. This benefits more than just attendance rates, since recruiting and training a new teacher can cost a school district more than $20,000.

Other types of development can also have a direct impact on student attendance. A study in New York found that students exposed to visible mold, humidity and ventilation problems were more often absent from school due to allergies and asthma. If your school has older buildings in disrepair, replacing or restoring them could have a positive effect on students’ health, leading to fewer sick days. When they’re spending time in a supporting, healthy environment, students are more encouraged to return day after day. This holds true for all stages of education, including university.

If you’re ready to explore options for your underused school property, DCG Strategies can help. Read more about how to put underused school property to its best use, and contact us to learn more.