Respond to the non-academic factors that influence school participation and performance.

Research shows that non-academic factors such as chronic absenteeism, trauma, poverty, and adversity negatively impact academic performance. Young people who experience these non-academic factors are more likely to drop out of high school. Community partners can support efforts to keep youth in high school by meeting their mental and physical health need and building a sense of community- and school-based belonging.

  • Chronic-absenteeism data is widely available and can be used as a first-look to identify students in need of support.
  • Social and emotional learning can empower school staff and students to manage adversity through an emphasis on managing emotions, setting positive goals, empathy, and having positive relationships. Investing in social and emotional learning is shown to decrease disciplinary infractions and increase academic performance.
  • Caring adults in schools and partner organizations can offer services to alleviate the impacts of trauma, poverty, and adversity. For example, they can provide access to dental, physical, and mental healthcare in the school, offer meal or laundry services, or extend empathy to their students.



  • Communities In Schools provides a number of attendance resources to help schools and communities address chronic absenteeism.
  • Future ED’s new report, Who's In: Chronic Absenteeism Under ESSA, provides a comprehensive review of the provisions in all 51 state ESSA plans, as well as the results of an analysis of federal chronic absenteeism data. Drawing on this research, they offer a roadmap for leveraging ESSA to keep more students in school and on a path to academic success
  • Healthy Schools Campaign’s Addressing the Health-Related Causes of Chronic Absenteeism: A Toolkit for Action focuses on preparing educators—particularly school district decision-makers—with knowledge and practical guidance for creating meaningful change to address health-related chronic absenteeism.
  • Instead of punishing a student for being late to school, work to figure out why that student was late. In NPR’s “A Year of Love and Struggle in a New High School,” find out how educators at Ron Brown College Preparatory High School in Washington, D.C., are seeing young black men in high school through to graduation. You cannot graduate if you do not come to school.
  • Created by The Pennsylvania State University with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Promoting Social and Emotional Learning in the Middle and High School Years, is one of a series of briefs that addresses the need for research, practice, and policy on social and emotional learning (SEL). The effects of SEL on adolescent development appear to be important, but the effects are somewhat smaller than SEL programs for younger children. Findings from the report indicate that SEL programs for adolescents can be organized into four categories: skill-focused promotion, academic integration, teaching practices, and organizational reform.
  • Turnaround for Children’s Building Blocks for Learning is a framework for the development of skills children need for success in school and beyond. Each block represents a set of skills and mindsets that have been proven by research to strongly correlate to, and even predict, academic achievement. The skills and mindsets included in the framework were identified through the following guiding principles:
    • Alignment to the development of the child as a “learner” in an educational setting;
    • A measurable and malleable skill, behavior or mindset – differentiating between fixed personality/character traits and “teachable” learner attributes; and
    • A research base demonstrating impact of the skill, behavior or mindset on academic achievement.
  • Encouraging Social and Emotional Learning in the Context of New Accountability, a report written by Learning Policy Institute researchers, provides a framework for considering how measures of SEL and school climate may be incorporated in a multi-tiered accountability and continuous improvement system that provides useful information about school status and progress at the state, district, and school levels. States have submitted their accountability plans to the U.S. Department of Education; find your state’s plan here.
  • City Connects takes a systematic, high-impact, cost-effective approach to addressing the out-of-school factors that limit learning. Out-of-school challenges diminish a child’s ability to learn and thrive, especially in high-poverty urban school districts. In their Policy Brief, Principles of Effective Practice for Integrated Student Support, City Connects looks at key insights from the developmental sciences and identified principles of effective practices that guide their in-school model.
  • The Opportunity Index measures what opportunity looks like in the United States based on data like unemployment rate, on-time high school graduation rate, and health insurance coverage, among other data elements. Opportunity varies significantly by community, and a zip code should not matter for a young person’s opportunity to succeed. The Opportunity Index allows you to compare scores and understand why some communities have more opportunity than others. Improvements in the education indicator have continued unabated and in every state for the entire life of this index since 2011, and this is true only for this indicator.
  • Many government and nonprofit efforts to increase economic mobility focus on programs, but securing mobility for more people will require a more comprehensive approach. The U.S. Partnership on Mobility from Poverty’s paper, Creating Mobility from Poverty: An Overview of Strategies, provides a detailed look at six types of strategies to describe the diversity of programs needed to help people move up from poverty. Gaining a better understanding of the strategies can give policymakers, researchers, and practitioners a roadmap for significantly increasing mobility. This paper does not evaluate, rank, or recommend particular programs, rather it offers a framework to open up discussion and gather key insights about alternative strategies.


  • Albuquerque, New Mexico: In Albuquerque, Mission: Graduate partnered with New Mexico PBS (NMPBS) and local school districts, including Albuquerque Public Schools, to get the word out that “Every Day Matters.” Part of this partnership includes television PSAs and other marketing materials to raise awareness about the impact of not going to school regularly. Recently, Mission: Graduate and NMPBS brought together more than 240 people, representing 40 schools and five school districts, for an all-day conference aimed at helping schools dig deep into their chronic-absence data to develop their own school-based attendance success plans.
  • Cleveland, Ohio: The Get 2 School. You Can Make It! Campaign in Cleveland just finished its second year promoting the importance of regular school attendance throughout the entire city with billboards, phone outreach, and home visits. The initiative uses strategic partnerships to remove barriers that contribute to students being chronically absent and rewards good and improved attendance through a data-driven decision-making process. After the first year of the program, the district reported 2,400 more students on track with attendance compared to prior years.
  • State of Oregon: The 2015 Oregon Legislature enacted House Bill 4002, which directed the Oregon Department of Education and the Chief Education Office to develop a joint statewide education plan to address chronic absence. Nationally, Oregon’s chronic absenteeism rate consistently ranks within the bottom 20 percent of states. Chronic absence disproportionately impacts American Indian students, students with disabilities, students of color, low-income students, and students with an out-of-school suspension. In response, the state will use data with key partners, promote welcoming learning environments, and support educators.
  • State of California: CORE Districts is a partnership between eight school districts in California to implement shared data and accountability systems, and scale strategies and tools that eliminate equity and achievement gaps. The CORE Districts built and maintain a comprehensive school improvement and accountability system that is one of the first to include measures of SEL. The system provides educators progress information, including data on student-level academic growth, high school readiness, students’ social-emotional skills and schools’ culture-climate, along with traditional measures of test scores, graduation rates, and absenteeism.
  • State of Massachusetts: exSEL (Excellence through Social Emotional Learning) was launched in 2016 by a coalition of five statewide educational professional associations. Statewide associations representing superintendents, School Committees, elementary and secondary principals, and educational collaboratives came together as a coalition to raise public awareness and promote reforms designed to address all of our students’ needs, including their mental health and wellness.
  • Nashville, Tennessee: Metro Nashville Public Schools has made SEL central to the learning process by adopting eight evidence-based SEL programs: Responsive Classroom, Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, Project-Based Learning, Restorative Practices, PBIS, Classroom Organization and Management Program, Second Step, and Mindfulness. SEL is aligned to all district initiatives and the district has helped educators understand the connections between SEL and the Tennessee Academic Standards.
  • Atlanta, Georgia: East Lake Foundation was created in 1995 to help transform one of Atlanta’s most troubled neighborhoods, and it has now become a landmark achievement in urban renewal. The effort in the East Lake neighborhood took a holistic approach to community revitalization by incorporating mixed-income housing, cradle-to-college education, and community wellness. This approach not only helps break the cycle of intergenerational poverty, but also creates a place where people of all ages and incomes choose to live. In May 2017, all 82 of Charles R. Drew Charter School’s first class of seniors graduated and were accepted to at least one college, representing the completion of the “cradle-to-college education pipeline.” Transforming East Lake, a case study by the Center for Promise looks at East Lake’s remarkable experience and suggests overarching lessons for other communities to consider.
  • Los Angeles, California: The Magnolia Community Initiative (MCI) is a collective impact effort where more than 70 county, city, and community efforts have united to address social determinants of health and education. Their efforts are focused on a 500-square block, majority Hispanic area near downtown Los Angeles that is home to 35,000 vulnerable children and youth, of whom 65 percent live in poverty. The partners came together to promote and strengthen individual, family, and neighborhood protective factors by increasing social connectedness, community mobilization, and access to needed services. MCI increases connections between the residents and public and private organizations to change how each thinks and acts when it comes to parents, children, and the institutions that serve them.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Earlier this year, the Philadelphia Youth Network released their new strategic plan, Vision 2020. Their vision is to alleviate poverty and inequity through education and employment by creating coordinated systems that promote the attainment of academic achievement, economic opportunity, and personal success. Of the 10 largest U.S. cities, Philadelphia has the highest rate of deep poverty, which has implications for young people and the community as a whole on key indicators, such as income, housing value, and education levels.


  • Attendance Works and the Everyone Graduates Center’s report, Preventing Missed Opportunity: Taking Collective Action to Confront Chronic Absence, builds on the first national chronic absence data set from the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) from the 2013-14 school year. Their analysis shows geographical and socioeconomic concentration of chronic absenteeism. Additionally, the report lays out steps that states and school districts can take to address chronic absence.
  • The Brookings Institution released a report, Chronic absenteeism: An old problem in search of new answers, in July 2017 which recaps the causes and consequences of chronic absenteeism and potential solutions to the problem. The report advocates for states and districts to collect high quality data on attendance, and for schools “to use this data in a strategic and ongoing way to identify truant students, and then monitor effects to improve their attendance.”
  • The new report, Ready to Lead: A National Principal Survey on How Social and Emotional Learning Can Prepare Children and Transform Schools, from Civic Enterprises with Hart Research Associates, discusses how principals across the United States understand how fundamental SEL is to the development of students and their success in and out of school. But principals report needing more guidance, training, and support to make solid and effective school-wide SEL implementation a reality.
  • American Institutes for Research’s issue brief, Improving College and Career Readiness by Incorporating Social and Emotional Learning, was written to assist state policymakers in better understanding how SEL can help students to be college and career ready. The brief provides a short description of what SEL is, why it is needed, and what it looks like in practice. In addition, examples of standards that support SEL at the federal and state levels, current SEL initiatives and programs, and outcomes and measures that can be used to assess SEL programming are described.
  • Child Trends’ databank and accompanying report, Children in Poverty: Indicators of Child and Youth Well-Being, explores the data on childhood poverty and provides data, policy, and research on the topic. In 2010, more than 1 in 5 children (22 percent) lived in families with incomes below the poverty line, the highest level since 1993; by 2015, this had fallen slightly to 20 percent. Poverty levels among Black and Hispanic children, children living in single-mother families, and children under five are higher in 2015 than in 2010.
  • City Year’s report, Overcoming the Poverty Challenge to Enable College and Career Readiness for All - The Crucial Role of Student Supports, explores how schools are challenged to meet the needs of a student body that is facing obstacles outside of the classroom, including the impacts of poverty. The tried practices to mitigate poverty have not worked—class size reduction, tutoring, and ad hoc student supports. Instead, they recommend schools combine school design with enhanced student supports by strategically deploying community volunteers and national service members.
  • ASCD provides a number of resources on the effects of poverty on learning. Hear what their experts have to say in this video where two ASCD authors talk about the five intervening factors that impact a student's learning: different forms of capital (social, cultural), health and wellbeing, material resources, mobility/housing instability, language and literacy development.