Letters to Parents to Prevent School Absences

A school district has started sending "nudge" letters to parents to prevent school absences.

Letters to Parents to Prevent School AbsencesWhen students miss too many days of school, schools in Tacoma Washington and 16 other districts send letters home to parents, which include a tally of student absences and the averages for students in the child's grade.

The idea is similar to the method used by energy companies to increase conservation, when they send a report that compares a homeowner's electricity use with nearby households.

The idea for nudge letters as a means of reducing absenteeism came from behavioral scientist and former Democratic pollster Todd Rogers, along with studies in major cities.  Lister Elementary was the pilot school last year in Tacoma, where last year 62 percent of the students who received the letters improved their attendance.

Chronic absenteeism has many causes.  Often there are problems such as transportation and other practical issues affecting families.  The letters help parents face the truth and seek help.

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