Every Day Counts!
School Attendance Matters
School attendance is essential to academic success, but too often students, parents and schools do not realize how quickly absences — excused as well as 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.
Every absence matters at every grade level.
By third grade, chronically absent students, especially those who have experienced multiple years of poor attendance are less likely to read on grade level. By sixth grade, chronic absence becomes an early warning sign that a student may drop out of high school. By ninth grade, it’s a better indicator than eighth-grade test scores. Children with certain risk factors—including poverty, homelessness, frequent moves and disabilities—are especially hard hit since they can least afford to miss school.
· Every day missed is a day of instruction missed, a day of classroom interaction with students and teachers that can’t be recovered.
· Attendance matters as early as kindergarten. Studies show many children who miss too many days in kindergarten and first grade can struggle academically in later years. They often have trouble mastering reading by the end of third grade.
· Students are at risk academically if they miss 10 percent of the school year, or about 18 days. Once too many absences have occurred, they can affect learning, regardless of whether absences are excused or unexcused.
· Chronic absence, missing 10 percent of the school year or more, 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.
· 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.
· Preschool is a great time to start building a habit of good attendance. Young children with poor attendance in preschool also lose out on valuable learning time and if chronic absence continues into kindergarten, it can pull down academic achievement.
· By middle and high school, chronic absence is a leading warning sign that a student will drop out.
What you can do:
All parents care about their children’s success in life. But they often do not realize how quickly absences can add up to academic trouble. For example, many parents don’t see absences as a problem if they are excused or if they are not on consecutive days. Parents also don’t always make the connection between attendance in elementary and middle school and eventual graduation from high school. Good attendance will help your children do well in high school, in college and at work.
· 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.
· Families should avoid extended vacations that require your children to miss school. Try to line up vacations with the school’s schedule. The same goes for doctor’s appointments.
· For younger children, you can set a regular bedtime and morning routine. Make sure they get 9 to 11 hours of sleep. You can lay out clothes and pack backpacks the night before.
· For older children, you can help them develop homework and bedtime routines that allow for 8 ½ to 9 ½ hours of sleep. Make sure that when the lights go out, so do the cell phones, video games and computers.
· Get to know the teachers and administrators. With younger children, make sure you introduce your child to teachers before school starts and keep in touch with the teachers. For older students, school officials can help you stay on top of academic progress and social contacts to make sure your child is staying on track.
· Above all, set an example for your child. Show him or her that attendance matters to you and that you won’t allow an absence unless someone is truly sick. Avoid asking older students to help with daycare and household errands.
· You can turn to the school for help. Many schools offer services for the whole family.
· You can ask your principal to calculate chronic absence rates for the whole school. Even if your child attends regularly, it’s important to know how many students in your child’s school are missing 10 percent or more of the school year.
· Seek help from the school or community if you are facing tough challenges related to access to health care, unstable housing, poor transportation or lack of food. More schools and community agencies are working together to offer help for the whole family.
· Complete an Attendance Agreement with your student and school.
· If you need assistance causing your student to attend school regularly, contact your school to request an attendance conference
· School is your first and most important job. You’re learning about more than math and reading. You’re learning how to show up for school on time every day, so that when you graduate and get a job, you’ll know how to show up for work on time every day.
· Students who attend school regularly are more likely to graduate and find good jobs. In fact, a high school graduate makes, on average, a million dollars more than a dropout over a lifetime.
· School only gets harder when you stay home too much. Sometimes it’s tempting to stay home because you’ve got too much work or you don’t understand what’s going on in class. But missing a day only makes that worse.
· Communicate concerns that may affect your school attendance to parents or school staff. Work with them to develop an attendance agreement identifying things you can do, your parents or guardians can do, and your school can do to help improve your attendance.
Contacts, Links, and Resources