Your motivation to take attendance every day

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This blog post is part of our “Guide to Family Communications” series, based on the stories we collected while assembling our 2016–2017 Impact Report.

Daily attendance tracking allows teachers to spot early warning signs, plan interventions, and monitor improvements. Teachers and leaders benefit from learning how to make a habit of taking attendance each day, reviewing the data regularly, and learning to let the data inform conversations with students, teachers, and families.

Educator perspectives on how Kinvolved helps

The Kinvolved team partners with school systems to strategize ways to boost utilization rates and make attendance data more accurate.

Ms. S. worked with her Kinvolved coach to send weekly emails to her teachers that include attendance rates, the effect of KiNVO usage on attendance, students who are improving their attendance, and teachers who take attendance in 100% of their classes each week.

As the result of a Kinvolved coaching session, Ms. B. now sends out monthly attendance newsletters: “I spotlight teachers with high utilization, and once other teachers see it, they think ‘Ok, I want to use it too.’”

Putting it into practice

  • Teachers: Participate in Kinvolved professional learning sessions to increase your comfort with KiNVO, learn its full feature set, use the software with fidelity, and increase your usage.
  • Leaders: Work with the Kinvolved team to learn and understand the barriers that prevent teachers from taking attendance daily, then receive tailored suggestions about how to boost teacher utilization.

Engagement for educators on the go

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This blog post is part of our “Guide to Family Partnerships” series, based on the stories we collected while assembling our 2016–2017 Impact Report.

When parents try to reach a teacher or administrator over the phone, they’ll likely reach a phone ringing at an empty desk or have to leave a message that won’t be received until after dismissal. The resulting games of phone tag cause frustration and can undermine important relationships.

“If you call my desk, you’d never reach me,” says Harlem dean Mr. W., who is constantly away from his office and walking around the building providing student support.

Educator perspectives on how Kinvolved helps

KiNVO makes it easier for parents to reach school staff during their hectic days. For Mr. W., this close connection strengthens relationships: “Through text, I’ll get it and be able to text back. You’re not waiting until the end of the day to get what you need.”

Educators can also reach parents in real time, without being intrusive, via KiNVO’s text messaging feature, ensuring parents get the information they need no matter where they are. Mr. G., a guidance counselor in the Bronx, described being able to get in touch with a mother as soon as he realized her child was cutting class. When the parent saw the text, she called Mr. G. “from her cell phone, while standing on a street corner”—and solving the problem did not have to wait “until she got home and saw a missed call.”

With KiNVO, Ms. S. at a Brooklyn high school appreciates that she can ping parents when a tardy student shows up. “As soon as they come in, I take out my phone and send a quick message: ‘Just walking in.’ It takes ten seconds and it’s something I wasn’t able to do before.”

Putting it into practice

  • At the end of each day, sort by unread messages your Kinbox—your KiNVO message inbox—to be sure you reply to anything that may have slipped through the cracks.
    • Pro tip: To save time, sign up for daily notifications of unread messages.
  • Create in KiNVO a template bank of your commonly used messages, then simply customize your notes with the student’s name before sending.
  • Perform and narrate your KiNVO activities, such as swiping to take attendance or texting a positive message to parents, in front of your class. This will help you develop a routine while also building student investment in what you’re doing.

How to reach students’ greatest influencers

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This blog post is part of our “Guide to Family Communications” series, based on the stories we collected while assembling our 2016–2017 Impact Report.

Phone calls and letters get sent to a single designated contact that, even if up-to-date, might not be the most effective influencer to provide the support a student needs.

Educator perspectives on how Kinvolved helps

Because KiNVO allows multiple contacts per student, teachers can loop in multiple relatives and guardians who may have substantial influence over the child.

Ms. N., a Brooklyn high school teacher, worked with one student’s grandmother to add more family members to her contact list. “If that student is out, it’s clear she’s cutting class—now, any available family member can help deal with it,” she explains. The expanded circle brought drastic results: “I sent two text messages, and suddenly she was getting to school before the first-period bell!”

For Ms. S., a high school teacher in Harlem, when she learned that a parent who was supposed to be receiving automated phone calls was deaf, she switched to text messaging and added another contact to the student’s account. Just by adding another family member, “the child’s attendance went from 38% to 68% in four weeks.”

Putting it into practice

  • Add as many contacts as you need per student, then customize which contacts receive which messages in which format.
    • Pro tip: Be sure to customize the language settings for each individual.
  • As you get to know your students, ask where they spend their evenings and mornings so you learn which family members are closest when students are doing homework assignments or waking up.

How to strengthen teacher-parent bonds by removing communication barriers

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This blog post is part of our Guide to Family Communications series, based on the stories we collected while assembling our 2016–2017 Impact Report.

It’s tough for working parents to stay in the loop about their child’s progress that day—or to even know whether their child shows up to school each day. Compounding the problem, evening work and activity schedules often conflict with parent-teacher conferences and other school events.

Even if school staff are able to reach parents and guardians, language barriers often mean that traditional forms of communication—like phone calls, in-person meetings, and letters home—may be inaccessible to families that don’t speak English.

Educator perspectives on how Kinvolved helps

KiNVO’s automatic two-way language translation, pre-scheduling functions, and mass-sending capabilities open communications channels with families who have traditionally been left out of the conversation, all without adding time or stress to teachers’ busy days.

Brooklyn Community Schools director Ms. C. shares, “some parents at work can’t talk on their cell phones but texting works for them.” Her colleague Ms. H. agrees, finding KiNVO messaging more effective than phone calls when scheduling home visits: “Some parents don’t have cell phone plans with enough minutes to talk, but are able to text.”

Harlem elementary school teacher Ms. D. texts parents to keep them in the loop on behavior and homework—information she used to send home in student backpacks. “It’s great for those parents who are so busy they don’t have the time to go home and look through the folder,” she says.

Communicating with families, regardless of their chosen language, helps strengthen the bonds between educators and families, raise awareness of attendance issues before they become unmanageable, and can even lead to improved performance. Through KiNVO, users select the appropriate language(s) for each contact associated with a student, so every message is delivered in a readable language. When a parent writes back in their chosen language, the KiNVO automatically translates that back into English.

According to Ms. G., a high school teacher in the Bronx, the ability to send messages to parents and guardians in their language of choice led to “massive improvement” in student attendance—students who attended school one or two days a month were showing up multiple times per week.

“The ease of sending messages in languages other than English has been amazing,” says Bronx middle school teacher Ms. S. “I am able to write one message and reach all parents instead of using Google Translate and sending multiple renditions of a message.”

Putting it into practice

  • Send messages at a consistent time each evening so parents know when to expect them.
    • Pro tip: Use KiNVO’s scheduling feature to pre-plan and automate message delivery.
  • Set language preferences for every contact in a student’s account.
    • Pro tip: Clearly communicate to parents that the system will automatically translate the messages they send into English.
Happy students throwing mortar boards up

How we’re increasing our impact in the year ahead

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A message from Kinvolved’s founders:

With an investment from Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, and with pilots launching in new states, Kinvolved is well-positioned to have tremendous impact in 2018.

In 2012 we founded Kinvolved with a singular vision: to increase student achievement by improving attendance and eliminating chronic absenteeism. Our holistic approach leveraged technology tools and human interventions to change deep-rooted behaviors and neutralize the external factors that lead to student disengagement—including poverty, racism, and socio-economic exclusion.

Why? Because chronic absence is a problem begging for a solution.

New federal legislation, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), has prompted more than

37

Student attendance is the leading indicator of high school graduation: less than

20

By the time they
reach third grade,
only

17

of children who were chronically absent in earlier grades will read on grade level, compared with 64% of their peers who regularly attended class.

Chronic absence is also an issue of equity. Half the nation’s chronically absent students are concentrated in just 4% of the nation’s school districts, disproportionately affecting communities with the highest rates of unemployment, violence, inadequate housing, and intergenerational poverty. These are devastating numbers.

To find a path out of poverty and toward lifelong success, kids need to show up for school; our job is to show up for kids.

KiNVO, our attendance management software, launched in 2013 as a pilot with a small group of NYC public schools. We have since expanded our reach to 130+ NYC schools—serving more than 200,000 students, families, educators, and administrators—and we’ve launched a partnerships in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and communities in Kentucky, New Jersey, Connecticut, and South Dakota. In 2017, we also introduced Teacher and Leader Coaching, and Community Summits.

With hundreds of thousands of users, we’ve been able to gauge our impact:

  • Our partner schools see a 13x boost in attendance compared with other schools.
  • Kinvolved schools see stronger declines in chronic absence over the average school.

These results reinforce our commitment to the work, and we are excited to announce a new partner that will help us realize our vision: The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation (DRK) has invested in Kinvolved as part of its social impact work, and Stephanie Khurana, a DRK Managing Director, has joined Kinvolved’s board of directors as a strategic partner.

Stephanie brings to Kinolved’s board her expertise as a deeply involved investor and advisor to other organizations, many of which work to make an impact on education in high-risk communities.   

Kinvolved’s founders have demonstrated impressive traction with a solution that is simple enough for communities to implement, and which tackles chronic absenteeism in its early stages—a critical component to increasing graduation rates, employability, and other key societal benefits.

- Stephanie KhuranaManaging Director, DRK

There are countless ways for our nation, states, and communities to think about education reform—the first step is to ensure children are present and prepared to receive the education they deserve. With the help of district, neighborhood, government, and funding partners, we are catalyzing communities to get more kids to school.

Thank you for your continued support.