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Back to School: Attendance Matters

Posted at 1:09 PM, Jul 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-30 16:09:41-04

Starting a new school year can raise challenges. Missing school days can put a child at risk academically. Chronic absenteeism – can translate into inability to master reading, failing subjects or even dropping out of high school.  

The reasons may be complex but don’t worry because help is available! 

Why does attendance matter?

  • Students are more likely to achieve academic success when they attend school consistently. 
  • 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 of students failing classes.
  • By 9th grade chronic absence contributes significantly to dropping out of high school.

What is chronic absenteeism?

  • Absenteeism in the first month of school can predict poor attendance throughout the school year. Half the students who miss 2 or 3 days in September go on to miss nearly a month of school.
  • Missing 10% or more of school for any reason – (excused, unexcused, suspensions) is considered chronic absenteeism.  That means missing just 2-3 days per month in a school year equals a significant amount of lost time in the classroom that students find it difficult to keep up.

What are some of the underlying issues that lead to tardies and absences?

Misconceptions play a large role in poor attendance. Some of those misconceptions are:

  • Absences are not a problem if they are excused.
  • Missing two days per month does not affect learning.
  • If you spread the absences out, they are not a problem.
  • Attendance only matters in the upper grades.

Other issues such as Social Barriers like illness, food insecurity, multiple school changes, and even lack of clean clothing can lead to chronic absenteeism. Check with San Diego County Department of Health and Human Services Agency for more related best practices and tools. 

What can parents do?

  • Make getting to school a priority in your family - schedule family visits and vacations during school breaks.
  • Talk with your child about the importance of school attendance at an early age.
  • Create back up transportation plans when unexpected emergencies arise.
  • If your child is nervous or scared to go to school, talk to them about what they are nervous or scared about so you can reassure them. 

According to theNational Center for Student Engagement, schools are most effective in achieving high attendance rates when parents, school leaders and community members work together to focus on reducing absences and truancy, and keeping kids in schools.  

The San Diego County Office of Education encourages you to reach out directly to your local school or district officials for support and programs.   

Your child’s daily, on-time attendance is critical to a successful school year. 

Guide your child to a great future!