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Students entering Goff Middle SchoolEvery day a student is absent from school 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 is reached when a student misses 10 percent of school days, and it begins as early as pre-kindergarten
  • Over 7 million U.S. students (1 in 7) miss nearly a month of school each year
  • 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
  • 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

“We hope that by bringing more attention to this issue, and by offering resources to our parents, that we can reduce chronic absences and improve classroom learning for all of our students,” said Superintendent Jeff Simons.

While all schools in East Greenbush Central School District are in good standing, and have attendance above the state’s guidelines, there are new school-specific regulations from the state under ESSA.

As part of the Attendance Matters campaign, the school district has been providing principals with quarterly attendance reports and discussing attendance regularly at administrative meetings. The district’s Attendance Committee, which is comprised of principals, teachers, secretaries and Board of Education members, was formed in 2011-12 and continues to address attendance issues. The committee is currently discussing how to strengthen attendance reporting within the schools and new ways of notifying parents.

Columbia High School has taken additional measures, forming a school attendance committee that looks at student absence and unexcused tardies, scheduling individual meetings with students and parents who are identified with chronic absences, using the Raptor Visitor Management System to track students as they enter school and enforcing the Code of Conduct.

Bringing awareness to the issue of chronic absenteeism, and providing information and resources to parents can help improve student attendance and, consequently, student achievement.

“In addition to the tremendous impact attendance has on a student’s overall academic performance, developing the lifelong skills of being on time and persevering even when facing challenges or not feeling your best will prepare students for success in the workplace,” said James McHugh, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction. “Helping our students to develop a work ethic of showing up on time and on a consistent basis to take on whatever challenges come their way will help lead them to greater success in their years ahead.”

Read more about chronic absenteeism and our Attendance Matters campaign at