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The Relationship Between Playworks Participation and Student Attendance in Two School Districts

NCJ Number
Jacob Leos-Urbel; Monika Sanchez
Date Published
30 pages

This report describes the Playworks Program; it discusses prior research on Playworks as well as the current project, a conceptual framework for expected outcomes, and student attendance patterns’ and characteristics’ relationship with Playworks; appendices provide technical documentation including data and tables of regression coefficients.


This document presents a research study that investigated the relationship between schools’ Playworks Program participation and student attendance, focusing on elementary and kindergarten through eighth grade schools and students who participated in the San Francisco and Oakland Unified School Districts. The research design included a comparison group of students in similar schools not participating in Playworks, and a series of multivariate regression analyses estimating the relationship between Playworks participation and student attendance. Key findings included: participation in Playworks was associated with a very small increase in student attendance rates; that increased student attendance, aggregated to a school of 450 students, represented approximately 150 additional attendance days during the school year; for students who were chronically absent in the prior year, Playworks was associated with slightly larger increases in attendance, 0.4 percent rather than 0.2 percent, equivalent to an average increase of approximately two-thirds of a school day per student, per year; and Playworks schools had much higher levels of students participating in the federal Free and Reduced Price Lunch Program, and lower levels of parent education compared to non-Playworks schools. The authors conclude that although the goal of Playworks is to create safe, inclusive school environments especially during recess, the program’s effects go beyond the expected increase in physical activity and improvements in school climate which are documented in previous research, that schools participating in Playworks may experience additional, very small improvements in attendance.