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.
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.
Be looking for new processes in Holly Area Schools to identify attendance issues and to help parents with understanding the importance of having students at school every day.
- Good attendance helps children do well in school and eventually in the workplace. Good attendance matters for school success, starting as early pre-kindergarten 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.
- 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 populations.
- 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.
Getting your child to school on-time, every day, unless they are sick, is something that you can do to ensure your child has a chance to succeed in school. While others can help, you are the bottom line. You can promote good attendance when you:
- Establish and stick to the basic routines (going to bed early, waking up on time, etc.) that will help your child develop the habit of on-time attendance.
- Talk to your child about why going to school every day is critical and important unless they are sick. If your child seems reluctant to go to school, find out why and work with the teacher, administrator or after school provider to get them excited about going to school.
- Come up with back up plans for who to turn to (another family member, a neighbor or fellow parents) to help you get your child to school if something comes up (e.g. another child gets sick, your car breaks down, etc.).
- Reach out for help if you are experiencing tough times (e.g. transportation, unstable housing, loss of a job, health problems) that make it difficult to get your child to school. Other parents, your child’s teacher, principal, social worker, school nurse, afterschool providers or community agencies can help you problem solve or connect you to a needed resource.
- If your child is absent, work with the teacher to make sure she or he has an opportunity to learn and make up for the academics missed.