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. Rock Hill 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. Now, under the Federal government's Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Rock Hill 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 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.
- 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.