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How to ensure students can be located — before things go wrong

  • Madison Schiefelbein
  • October 21, 2020

Even in this vastly interconnected world, it’s remarkably easy to lose contact with students. Physical and mental health problems suddenly materialize. Students become involved in the juvenile justice system. Families move. Phone numbers change.

Today, educators across the nation are learning about yet another way that they can lose contact with students: a global health crisis.

When millions of students were suddenly pushed into a new learning modality — and many disconnected in the process — school leaders everywhere learned that the structures they had for maintaining connection to their students were often insufficient.

Indeed, it is becoming very obvious that robust connectivity can make the difference when it comes to keeping students engaged and connecting them to the support they need.

In fact, research shows that one of the common challenges for dropout and attendance recovery programs is that school districts simply don’t have all the information they need to locate disengaged students.

Since 2007, Graduation Alliance has worked with hundreds of school districts to locate, re-enroll, re-engage and educate disengaged students. In doing so, we have studied a vast number of student record systems and have explored dozens of approaches to finding, connecting with, and maintaining contact with students.

As more districts come to see the need for such robust connectivity, Graduation Alliance has become a staunch advocate for a number of strategies that improve student connectivity — starting with building robust connectivity files.

These files include:

• Name, aliases and nicknames
• Date of birth
• Current address and phone numbers
• Prior places lived
• Places where family members live
• Name and contact information for one or more best friends, immediate family members, extended family members and extended family members from a grandparental generation
• Community mentors such as coaches, advocates or religious leaders
• Places worked
• Social media handles and sites
• Email addresses
• Post-secondary educational goals
• Career goals

Having partnered with school districts and state departments of education across the nation to provide attendance recovery initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic, we can attest to the power of this sort of information. After all, even the best curriculum and pedagogy in the world would be useless if students didn’t show up for school. So, when it comes to true re-engagement, student location is an essential first step.

Graduation Alliance partners with school districts, workforce agencies and various other organizations to help create alternative paths for individuals who need flexibility and support to earn a diploma. To learn more about our services or contact us, simply click here.