Attendance is essential to school success, but too often students, parents, and schools do not realize how quickly absences — excused and unexcused — can add up to academic trouble. Chronic absence — missing 10 percent of the school year, or just 2-3 days every month—can translate into third-graders unable to master reading, sixth-graders failing courses, and ninth-graders dropping out of high school. Low-income students, who most depend on school for opportunities to learn, are especially harmed when they miss too much instruction.
Chronic absence is an alarming, largely overlooked problem that is preventing too many children from having an opportunity to learn and succeed. It affects 5 million to 7.5 million students— more than one in 10 — nationwide. This is not just a problem in middle and high school: It starts in kindergarten and preschool. It is a problem in districts of every size, urban, suburban and rural.
“Our goal during September is to keep school attendance at the forefront of all our conversations with students, parents, teachers, and the community,” said Bill Settle, Assistant Superintendent.
Attendance is the component of student achievement that often operates under the radar because schools often feel helpless in bringing about changes in students’ and parents’ attendance beliefs and behaviors. However, Thomasville City Schools is going to use multifaceted methods to communicate the importance of attendance throughout the month to bring much needed attention to the importance of daily school attendance.
Schools within the district will utilize their parent involvement coordinators to spearhead the campaign. Parent involvement coordinators will be working with the principals and teachers to ensure activities are orchestrated for both the students and the parents. Flyers will be sent home with students, information will be emailed to parents, and the district’s parent page on the tcitys.org website will host videos and other information resources. Some schools will conduct poster contests to engage students in the campaign, while each school principal will make daily announcements sharing facts about the impact of chronic absenteeism. In addition, schools hosting parent engagement activities during the month will utilize part of their program’s agenda to attendance related activities.
The month-long awareness campaign is part of Attendance Works’ national campaign. Attendance Works is a national and state initiative that promotes better policy and practice around school attendance. More information can be found at attendanceworks.org.
For more information on Attendance Awareness Month, stakeholders are encouraged to visit attendancworks.org and tcitys.org/parents.