Count Us In! Working Together To Show That Every School Day Matters
Attendance is essential to school success, but too often students, parents and schools do not realize how quickly absences — excused and unexcused — can add up to academic trouble. Chronic absence — missing 10 percent of the school year, or just 2-3 days every month—can translate into third-graders unable to master reading, sixth-graders failing courses and ninth-graders dropping out of high school. Low-income students, who most depend on school for opportunities to learn, are especially harmed when they miss too much instruction.
Chronic absence is an alarming, largely overlooked problem that is preventing too many children from having an opportunity to learn and succeed. National data collected for the 2013-14 school year found 6.8 million students, or 14 percent of all students, were chronically absent. This is not just a problem in middle and high school: It starts in kindergarten and preschool. It is a problem in districts of every size, urban, suburban and rural. The report, “Preventing Missed Opportunity”, shows that nine out of 10 U.S. school districts experience some level of chronic absenteeism, but half of the nation’s chronically absent students are concentrated in just 4 percent of its districts. Low-income children, English language learners, and children with disabilities miss the most school. In every state, missing too much school correlates with weaker standardized test scores.
Stemming this crisis is essential to our country’s economic and educational future. Growing recognition of its importance led to its inclusion in the recently passed Every Student Every Day Act, which reauthorizes federal funding for public schools. Chronic absence is a required reporting metric under Title I and Title II funds can be used for professional development about chronic absence.
The good news is this is a problem we can fix when schools and communities work with students and families, starting in the early grades to identify barriers to getting to school, help students overcome these barriers and cultivate a culture of attendance that encourages showing up every day even when it isn’t easy. This starts by helping everyone in the community recognize they have a stake and a role. It requires careful attention to data and strategic, locally tailored interventions to address attendance challenges.
(Reprinted from the online monthly E-news from the KY Dept. of Ed., Division of Student Success)
Help Send the Message that Going to School Every
Day Matters for Success in School and Life
1. Good attendance helps children do well in school and eventually in the workplace.
Good attendance matters for school success, starting as early prekindergarten and
throughout elementary school. By middle and high school, poor attendance is a
leading indicator of dropout. Developing the habit of attendance prepares students
for success on the job and in life.
2. Excused and unexcused absences quickly add up to too much time lost in the
classroom, starting in kindergarten and even pre-k, especially for the most vulnerable
3. Students are at risk academically if they miss 10 percent of the school year, or about 18 days. Once too many absences occur, they can affect learning, regardless of whether absences are excused or unexcused.
»» Sporadic, not just consecutive, absences matter. Before you know it – just one
or two days a month can add up to nearly 10 percent of the school year.
»» Avoid unnecessary absences. Some absences are unavoidable. Occasionally,
children get sick and need to stay home. What is important is getting children
to school as often as possible.
4. Relationship building is fundamental to any strategy for improving student
attendance. Students are more likely to go to school if they know someone cares
whether they show up.
Trusting relationships – whether with teachers, mentors, coaches or other caring
adults – are critical to encouraging families and students to pay attention to
absences adding up and seek out help to overcome barriers to attendance.
5. Chronic absence is a problem we can solve when the whole community works with, families and schools.
All of us can make a difference by helping create a positive school climate that engages
students and families in learning and sets the expectation that attendance matters.
Community partners are especially important for helping schools and families address
and overcome tough barriers such as limited access to health care, hunger, unstable
housing, and poor transportation or neighborhood violence.
6. Chronic absence, missing 10 percent or more of the school year does not just affect the students who miss school.
If too many students are chronically absent, it slows down instruction for other students,
who must wait while the teacher repeats material for absentee students. This makes it
harder for students to learn and teachers to teach.