This month, The Education Trust-Midwest joined other education agencies to provide a toolkit to aid school districts in finding and re-engaging students who may have become disconnected from schooling, a phenomenon that could have a devastating and long-lasting impact on their learning.

Called Every Student Matters, the toolkit provides strategies that districts may use in partnership with other organizations and community partners to locate missing students and help reconnect them to school.

Some suggested strategies included:

  • Create a comprehensive contact list for all students who have not been reached. Divide the students who are unaccounted for among an “Every Student Matters” team.
  • Use multiple means and platforms of communication to connect with students and families, including personal calls, texting apps, letters, Boys and Girls Clubs, rotaries, neighborhood associations, faith-based institutions, and other individuals and institutions within communities. Door-to-door visits to last known addresses should be implemented when students cannot be reached.
  • Reach students using McKinney-Vento homeless liaisons and foster care liaisons to continue to identify and serve homeless and foster care students, and to maintain positive relationships that students have built with staff members.
  • Encourage the registration of home school children by those parents who choose to home school their children.
  • Encourage school leaders and teachers to maintain two-way communication with their students and families and establish norms for staff members on how and when to communicate with students.
  • Create a model for communicating in multiple languages.
  • Work with school specialists to communicate with families regarding ways to deliver services while schools are closed, including holding IEP and 504 meetings remotely, and plans to deliver services once students return to school.

Organizations signing onto the toolkit included the Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Association of Superintendents & Administrators, The Education Trust-Midwest, Middle Cities Education Association, the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators, Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals, Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association, Middle Cities Education Association, Michigan Education Association, AFT Michigan, Michigan Association of School Boards, Michigan School Business Officials, and Michigan’s Charter School Association.

Dr. Michael Rice, Michigan’s superintendent of public instruction, recently addressed the critical issue of missing students during a State Board of Education meeting, underscoring the importance and urgency to count, locate and educate Michigan’s missing students.

“This ability to ensure that all students are safe and educated is vital, especially in a pandemic,” he said.