In Selah "Attendance Works!"
This fall, the Selah School District joined other districts across the nation to participate in an attendance awareness campaign focusing on chronic absenteeism and the importance of all aged students attending school.
Across the country, more than 8 million students are missing so many days of school that they are academically at risk. Chronic absences—missing 10% or more of school days due to an absence for any reason, can translate into academic challenges—third-graders unable to master reading, sixth-graders failing subjects, and ninth-graders dropping out of high school.
Absenteeism isn’t simply a matter of truancy or skipping school. In fact, many absences, especially among the youngest students, are excused. Often absences are tied to health problems; however, other barriers also make it difficult to go to school every day—missing the bus, no transportation, homelessness, food insecurities, and anxiety, just to name a few examples. In many cases, chronic absences can go unnoticed. While chronic absences present academic challenges for individual students not in class, when absenteeism reaches high levels on particular days in a classroom or the school, all students may suffer because it hampers the teachers’ ability to engage the entire classroom of students to meet their learning needs.
The good news is that by having an intentional focus, chronic absenteeism is a solvable problem, and improving student attendance is an essential strategy for ensuring success that can help reduce achievement gaps. What works is taking a comprehensive approach that begins with engaging students and families, as well as preventing absences from adding up before students fall behind academically. Together, schools, families, patrons, public officials, and civic organizations can determine the causes of chronic absences, and implement approaches that address barriers and help get students to school every day so they have an opportunity to learn, flourish and realize their dreams.
In focusing on attendance during the school year, please consider the following points:
- Good attendance contributes to students doing well in school and eventually in the workplace.
- Students are at risk academically if they are chronically absent (missing just two days a month or 10 percent of the school year).
- Prevent absences whenever possible.
- Students are more likely to attend school if they feel safe (emotionally + physically), connected, supported, and believe they can learn and achieve.
- Relationship building is fundamental to any strategy for improving student attendance.
- Chronic absence is a problem we can solve when the whole community collaborates with families and schools.
- The key to success is to avoid laying blame and taking a proactive, positive, data driven, problem-solving approach.
- Families, educators and community partners need to monitor how many days a student misses school.
- Reducing chronic absence helps create more equitable academic outcomes, especially for children who live in poverty, experience discrimination and have disabilities.
- States can lead the way and encourage districts and schools to take action to improve student attendance.
As we enjoy another school year let’s remember that absenteeism matters as missed days add up. For the sake of Selah students, let’s focus on “Attendance Works!”