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Understanding How Absences Affect School Performance
Attendance Works, a national non-profit initiative that promotes awareness of the important role that school attendance plays in achieving academic success, reports that nine out of 10 U.S. school districts experience some level of chronic absenteeism among students. Adams 12 Five Star Schools is one of many districts working to improve chronic absences for increased student success.
WHAT IS CHRONIC ABSENTEEISM
In the past, only unexcused student absences were tracked (truancy) in districts giving a false understanding of how absences affected student success. Adams 12 Five Star Schools considers excused and unexcused absences as well as suspension days when calculating chronic absences. A student is chronically absent when he or she misses 10 percent of schooling throughout the year – around 2 days per month.
WHY IT MATTERS
Too often, parents, students and sometimes teachers don’t realize how quickly absences, even parent-excused absences, can add up to academic trouble. Chronic absenteeism is not just students who are skipping school, but students who miss school often for various reasons such as vacation or doctor appointments. Chronic absenteeism in kindergarten, and even PreK, can predict lower test scores, poor attendance and retention in later grades, especially if the problem persists for more than a year.
Research shows that missing as little as 2-3 days per month can translate into third graders unable to master reading, sixth graders failing courses and ultimately, teens dropping out of high school.
WHAT THE FIVE STAR DISTRICT IS DOING
This year, Student Engagement Initiatives and the Office of Intervention Services are working to build the capacity of schools to address attendance issues in a more comprehensive fashion.
Attendance Teams: Attendance teams are comprised of a variety of individuals from the school to include administrators, counselors, support staff, teachers, health aids etc. The team meets on a regular basis to review attendance data in order to identify students to recognize for good or improved attendance as well as determine supports and interventions for students who are chronically absent.
Home Visit Day: Each year, district volunteers visit the homes of over 100 chronically absent students in the fall to determine how the district can support the family, if needed.
Case Managers: Each school is assigned an attendance/discipline case manager to provide support for students who are chronically absent. Each case manager has 12-15 schools, which is why the district has created attendance teams at each school help.
Professional Development: Every other month we train deans and assistant principals in the best practices as they relate to attendance.
Information Technology: The Information Technology team has created prioritized reports to allow schools to readily access chronic absence data on a regular basis to better understand trends.
WHAT YOU CAN DO AS A PARENT
- Talk to your child about why going to school every day is critical and important unless they are sick. If your child seems reluctant to go to school, find out why and work with teacher or school to find ways to create excitement about going to school.
- Establish and stick to the basic routines (going to bed early, waking up on time, etc.) that will help your child develop the habit of on-time attendance.
- Come up with back up plans for who to turn to (another family member, a neighbor or fellow parents) to help you get your child to school if something comes up.
- Reach out for help if you are experiencing tough times (e.g. transportation, unstable housing, loss of a job, health problems) that make it difficult to get your child to school. Five Star Schools offer services for the whole family through the Student and Family Outreach Program.
- If your child has to be absent, work with your teacher to make sure she or he has an opportunity to learn and make up for the academics missed.
- Avoid extended vacations that require children to miss school. Try to schedule vacations with the school calendar. The same goes for doctor’s appointments.
For more information on how attendance matters, visit www.attendanceworks.org.