USED & White House
[COVID-19 Resource from ED] Promising Practices Brief: Improving Student Engagement and Attendance During COVID-19 School Closures

August 14, 2020


Dear colleagues,

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed incredible educational challenges, including numerous school closures and created an unprecedented level of activity in the online learning space. Relatedly, as states, districts, and schools transitioned in spring 2020 towards virtual and remote learning, new questions were posed: Should attendance still be taken? How is attendance measured in a remote learning environment? How can student engagement that leads to positive learning outcomes be measured in the virtual space?

To help disseminate promising practices and strategies in online learning, Insight Policy Research and the American Institutes for Research (contract GS-10F-0136X with the US Department of Education) published Promising Practices Brief: Improving Student Engagement and Attendance During COVID-19 School Closures. This resource provides an overview of the research on student engagement and attendance in online environments and highlights the efforts of five districts across the country to support student attendance and engagement during emergency school closures in the spring of 2020.

We hope you find this publication helpful and timely in your efforts to meet the educational challenges posed by COVID-19. To stay involved or for more information please reach out via email to


Patrick Rooney, Director

School Support and Accountability

About the Author

Patrick Rooney is the Director of two offices--Evidence-Based Practices Assessment and Accountability and School Support and Accountability within ED’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. Before this recent appointment, Mr. Rooney was the Deputy Director of the Office of State Support.  Prior to joining the Office of State Support, Mr. Rooney worked in the Implementation and Support Unit, where he helped lead the work of the Reform Support Network, providing technical assistance to states implementing comprehensive Race to the Top reforms, and the Race to the Top Assessment program, which provided grants to groups of states to develop new assessments aligned to state’s college- and career-ready standards. Mr. Rooney also worked in the DC Office of State Superintendent of Education, where he was a senior policy advisor and worked on a wide variety of K-12 issues in the District of Columbia.