How This Mounds View Public School Improved Attendance Reporting

At a glance: Mounds View Public Schools

The 10th largest district in Minnesota, Mounds View Public Schools is located a few miles north of the downtown area of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The district’s 13 schools serve a diverse population of more than 11,200 K-12 students. Nearly 8% of students are English language learners, and more than 34% qualify for free or reduced-price lunch programs.


Attendance matters at Valentine Hills Elementary

Like so many schools, the Mounds View district staff know that good attendance is critical for nearly every other school-based support. They also understand that breaking down barriers to better meet families where they are and building stronger relationships between schools and families can really start to move the needle toward better attendance levels.

Prior to implementing TalkingPoints’ attendance tools, school staff had to call every family contact phone number when a student was absent. This was a very time-consuming and frustrating process—especially since they would often get the family’s voicemail and the voicemail box was full, meaning they couldn’t even leave a message. 

For Valentine Hills Elementary (700 students), one of the schools within the district, an average school day may see 10-30 kids out and as many as 70 or more on bad weather days. This means hours of time each day for the school staff with little to no responses to show for it. 

Even though school staff instruct families to notify the school of absences, many do not, and each unverified absence means an unexcused absence in the student’s record.


How Valentine Hills Elementary implemented TalkingPoints’ attendance tools 

After learning that the TalkingPoints platform (which the district was already using for two-way communication between schools and families) also had tools to support attendance reporting, they were more than ready to try it.

The process is simple: Each day, the attendance team at Valentine Hills Elementary, including Administrative Assistant Kristin Bakeman, upload a spreadsheet of absent students to TalkingPoints. Then Kristin sends a message that’s delivered to all of the families as a text or through the free TalkingPoints for Families app to learn more about why each student missed school that day.

“We’re in an age where people don’t want to talk on the phone or listen to a voice message, so text is a really fabulous way of reaching out and getting a response. It’s a gift to be able to communicate with so many families at one time. I’m so grateful.” – Kristin Bakeman


Efficient for staff, zero-entry for families

The family contact receives Kristin’s message, translated into their home language, on their mobile phone as a text or in-app message. They simply reply, and Kristin receives the information she’s looking for translated back into English and in a text-based form. 

For families, using TalkingPoints is easy—no Wi-Fi, downloads, or smartphones are required. Communicating with their child’s teachers or school is as simple as sending or responding to a text message, all in their home language.

For Kristin, she no longer has to spend time reaching out to each family individually or transposing phone calls or voice messages into text.

It makes reaching out to families so quick and easy. It’s a HUGE time saver! Plus, I’m getting far more responses than when I used to leave voicemail messages for parents.


Immediate results, deeper insights, huge time savings

According to Valentine Hill staff, because families can easily respond via text, in their preferred language, it is really easy for them to use. The ease of use also means that families share a lot more information about why the student is absent – they go into more detail about illnesses, appointments and more.

School staff monitor the attendance data and are able to share with the Associate Principal or Dean cases where absence patterns could become problematic so they can reach out to the family to offer support or resources to address root causes.

By removing technology, situational and language barriers to make it easier for families to communicate about absences, the school has seen very positive results.

Since implementing the TalkingPoints attendance engagement tools, families now have three different avenues to report absences and reasons – a call line, log in to the parent portal, or simply respond to the message (SMS text or through the app) delivered via TalkingPoints.

And, for Kristin Bakeman, the improvement she saw from using TalkingPoints was immediate:

In the first week alone, I received more responses from the TalkingPoints outreach than ever before! I’m so pleased to be getting responses from parents I’ve never gotten a response from before. In the past, I’ve had a hard time leaving messages and I’d never hear back- now I’m hearing from families I’ve never heard from before.”


Building on gains for the 2024-25 school year

As the district prepares for the upcoming 2024-25 school year, they plan to continue using TalkingPoints to streamline attendance reporting and build stronger relationships between schools and families. Further, they’re considering leveraging additional TalkingPoints attendance tools, such as a library of calendarized and ready-to-send messages. Based on best-practice research, these pre-written messages help build families’ understanding of the importance of attendance and what they can do at home to support good habits at home.


About TalkingPoints

TalkingPoints is an edtech nonprofit with a mission to drive student success through effective family-school partnerships. Our Universal Family Engagement platform offers embedded, research-based guidance and time-saving tools for teachers, administrators, and staff, and best-practice two-way communication with families in 150+ languages. This unique approach builds capacity and eliminates barriers including language, time, and mindsets to improve student outcomes and well-being. Learn more about our work, or see a demo.

Are you an administrator?
Request a quote

Are you a teacher?
Sign up for free Download the teacher app Download the teacher app

Would you like more info?
Contact us


Other partner success stories

Aurora Public Schools is Breaking Barriers and Improving Student Outcomes

At a glance: Aurora Public Schools Located in Colorado’s third-most populated city, Aurora Public Schools’ 58 schools serve more than 38,000 students who hail from 130 countries and speak 160 […]

Pittsburgh Public Schools drives huge increases in family engagement

Pittsburgh Public Schools finds success using TalkingPoints to increase family engagement and improve communications between teachers and families.

Cincinnati Public Schools Uses TalkingPoints To Ensure An Inclusive Learning Environment

Ohio’s fastest-growing, large-city district ensures equitable access for all families In Cincinnati Public Schools, Ohio’s fastest-growing, large-city district, enrollment has grown more than 20 percent since 2012-2013. CPS is Greater […]

Skip to content