Every day a student is absent is a lost opportunity for learning. Too many absences not only can affect achievement for the absent student but also can disrupt learning for the entire class. Because attendance is so important, and in response to increased accountability measures under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the East Greenbush Central School District is launching Attendance Matters to improve student attendance in all of its schools.
Research shows that students who consistently miss school are at risk of lower academic achievement, failure and even dropping out of school altogether. Here are some facts:
- Chronic absenteeism begins as early as pre-kindergarten
- Absences can be a sign that a student is losing interest in school, struggling with school work, dealing with a bully or facing some other potentially serious difficulty.
- Compared to children with average attendance, chronically absent students gained 14% fewer literacy skills in kindergarten and 15% fewer literacy skills in 1st grade
- By 6th grade, chronic absence is one of three early warning signs that a student is more likely to dropout of school
- By 9th grade, student attendance is a better predictor of graduation than 8th grade test scores
Bringing awareness to the issue of chronic absenteeism, and providing information and resources to parents can help improve student attendance and, consequently, student achievement.
What is Chronic Absence and What is its Impact?
Most children miss a few days of school each year without long-term consequences. However, when they miss many days, the effects are almost always negative. Researchers have defined absences as “chronic” when they reach the level at which a child’s school success is at significant risk. Chronic absence has been established when a student misses 10 percent of school days, and it is different from truancy, which counts only unexcused absences.
In the East Greenbush Central School District, students are considered chronically absent when they miss 18 school days a year for any reason (10% of our 180 school day calendar). That works out to less than 2 days per month.
Over the course of a student’s high school career, missing 10 percent of school days would equate to missing almost an entire semester of school.
10 Facts About School Attendance
- Absenteeism in the first month of school can predict poor attendance throughout the school year. Half the students who miss 2-4 days in September go on to miss nearly a month of school.
- Over 7 million U.S. students (1 in 7) miss nearly a month of school each year.
- Absenteeism and its ill effects start early. One in 10 kindergarten and first grade students are chronically absent.
- Poor attendance can influence whether children read proficiently by the end of third grade or be held back.
- By 6th grade, chronic absence becomes a leading indicator that a student will drop out of high school.
- Research shows that missing 10 percent of school days, or about 18 days in most school districts, negatively affects a student’s academic performance. That’s just two days a month and that’s known as chronic absence.
- Students who live in communities with high levels of poverty are four times more likely to be chronically absent than others often for reasons beyond their control, such as unstable housing, unreliable transportation and a lack of access to health care.
- When students improve their attendance rates, they improve their academic prospects and chances for graduating.
- Attendance improves when schools engage students and parents in positive ways and when schools provide mentors for chronically absent students.
- Most school districts and states don’t look at all the right data to improve school attendance. They track how many students show up every day and how many are skipping school without an excuse, but not how many are missing so many days in excused and unexcused absence that they are headed off track academically.
What is the ‘Attendance Matters’ Campaign?
Attendance Matters is a campaign to bring awareness to the issue of chronic absenteeism. This involves the school district reviewing attendance data, creating strategies to improve attendance and providing information to our families.
What Can Families Do?
Attending school regularly helps children feel better about school—and themselves. Start building this habit in preschool so they learn right away that going to school on time, every day is important. Good attendance will help children do well in high school, college and at work.
What you can do:
- Build regular routines for bedtime and the morning
- Lay out clothes and pack backpacks the night before
- Talk about the importance of regular attendance and about how your child feels about school
- Don’t permit missing school unless your child is truly sick. Use a thermometer to check for a fever. Remember that stomach aches and headaches may be signs of anxiety.
- If your child seems anxious about going to school, talk to teachers, school counselors, or other parents for advice on how to make him/her feel comfortable and excited about learning.
- Avoid medical appointments and extended trips when school is in session.
- Keep a chart recording your child’s attendance at home. At the end of the week, talk with your child about what you see.
- Develop back up plans for getting to school if something comes up. Ask a family member, neighbor or another parent for help.
- Seek support from school staff or community groups to help with transportation, health problems, or no safe path to school.
How to Track Your Child’s Attendance
Parents can view their child’s attendance on the Parent Portal by logging into PowerSchool. Click here for directions.