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Connecticut absentee program, Learner Engagement and Attendance Program (LEAP), reports success since its launch

The Learner Engagement and Attendance Program (“LEAP”) reports success since its launch in April 2021. The program was established using federal Covid-19 relief funding with the goal of curbing student chronic absenteeism in the districts of Bridgeport, CREC, Danbury, East Hartford, Hartford, Manchester, Meriden, New Haven, New Britain, New London, Norwich, Stamford, Torrington, Waterbury and Windham.

Chronic absenteeism is defined as a student missing 10% of in-class instruction time—whether the absences are disciplinary, excused, or unexcused. Once students are identified, LEAP employs a relationship-centered approach to increase school attendance. Families volunteer for home visits, during which LEAP visitors seek to understand and learn from families, not enforce policies or sanctions.

Conversation focuses on “the families’ strengths and capabilities, as well as their aspirations for their child. Ideally, families receive multiple home visits that support building relationships over time,” explains the program’s page on the state website. Visitors learn about the various struggles and barriers that a family faces and connects them to resources based on their needs. The visitors and the families seek solutions together to increase student attendance, such as establishing a morning routine. 

The Center for Connecticut Education Research Collaboration’s recent report shows significant increases in attendance rates for LEAP participant students, with long-term impact, particularly for the middle and high school population. But, while a decrease from 20% to 13% of missed in-class instruction is to be celebrated, that student would still technically be considered chronically absent. And data from the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year shows that chronic absenteeism continues to rise in Connecticut.

If your school district is being affected by the rise of chronic absenteeism, our education attorneys are available to consult on attendance and truancy policies and practices, as well as other education law questions or concerns that you may have. Please contact Marsha Moses at [email protected], Michelle Laubin at [email protected], or Christine Sullivan at [email protected]  for assistance.