School attendance matters!

Did you know that a student faces a much higher risk of falling behind academically and not graduating from high school if they miss 10 percent of their school days? Even if the absences are excused!

This year, our community is recognizing September as Attendance Awareness Month, part of a nationwide movement intended to convey the message that every school day counts. Sending a message that attendance matters at the start of the school year is crucial because that is when schools and communities lay out expectations for the coming year and can begin to develop a culture of attendance.

Nationwide, as many as one out of seven students are chronically absent. When students are chronically absent they are missing on average two or more days a month, or 10 percent or more of school days over the academic year. Chronic absence is a leading, early warning indicator of academic trouble and later dropout. [1]“Our data show that chronic absenteeism is contributing to academic gaps, especially for some underserved communities,” says Ted Dezember, King County Housing Authority. “When students miss too many days of school it affects their academic performance as well as their ability to complete high school and eventually be successful in the workplace. It can also hinder the development of their social-emotional skills”.

Good attendance matters for school success, starting as early as prekindergarten and throughout elementary school, and helps students stay on the path to academic success. Children who are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are less likely to read proficiently by third grade, and students who don’t read well by that critical juncture are more likely to struggle in school. By middle and high school, poor attendance is a leading indicator of dropout. [2]

Chronic absence is a problem we can solve when the whole community works with families and schools. Everybody has a role to play: parents, schools, city agencies, community nonprofits, afterschool programs, healthcare providers, businesses and others. 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 can help families overcome tough barriers, such as limited access to health care, hunger, unstable housing, poor transportation or neighborhood violence.

Reducing chronic absence is critical to ensuring that all students and their families can realize their hopes and dreams for academic success and opportunity. Please join us by participating in Attendance Awareness month!

Visit the Attendance Works website for additional information and resources.

by Lori Guilfoyle, Human Services Coordinator, City of Kent

[1] Attendance Works, Advancing Student Success By Reducing Chronic Absence

[2] Why attendance and Chronic Absence; Attendance Works