A Framework and Resources for Measuring Student Needs and Development During Remote and Blended Learning​

While by now most schools have established a process for collecting attendance under the current circumstances, it is not clear yet how best to measure and record a day’s attendance in synchronous and asynchronous remote environments. Clock hours are not as relevant for hybrid and remote instruction as they are for in-person instruction, and schedules vary widely across the state from no direct student/teacher connection to all-day synchronous classes.

Attendance is important. Studies in a regular school environment show that by 9th grade, students’ chances of graduating from high school drop by 20 percentage points for every week of school they miss. This is why chronic absenteeism is a part of the State’s accountability system. However, unlike a regular in-person school day, the Illinois School Code does not specify what counts as attendance in remote learning and schedules vary widely across the state. Requirements for remote attendance also vary widely, from merely tracking if assigned work has been completed, to requiring a once-daily check-in, to monitoring if students are logged in to each synchronous session and throughout the day.

The Illinois State Board of Education mandates that students are provided 5 hours of instruction and schoolwork and recommends at least 2.5 hours of synchronous instruction, but that is not always possible. Basing attendance on participation in synchronous instruction can have a disparate impact on vulnerable students and the existing designation of chronic absenteeism fails to capture barriers to student participation in the current context. For example, students without a device or online access cannot attend a video conference, students working to support their families during the pandemic may not be able to attend synchronous classes, and young students and students with disabilities may not be capable of participating in extended online instruction.

Teacher and Administrator Insights

The access needs to precede the definition [of attendance]. We have defined something and we are trying to backfill access and devices and connectivity. It’s inherently problematic from an access and equity lens.
From an Assistant Superintendent
@ a Large Suburban District
As for defining attendance, I think that gets challenging in the remote environment. I would focus more on engagement.
From a Principal
@ a Suburban Middle School

Promising Practices

Exemplars, Resources, and Research