Why Attendance 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 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. WPS 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% of schooling throughout the year – around 2 days per month.
Difference Between Truancy & Chronic Absenteeism
- Counts only unexcuse absences
- Emphasizes compliance with school rules and compulsory attendance law
- Relies on legal and administrative solutions
- Counts all absences, including excused, unexcused and suspensions
- Emphasizes academic impact of missed days
- Uses commnity-based positive strategies
What Families Can Do
- 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 the 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. Westminster Public Schools offer services for the whole family through the Student Services Department.
- 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 attendanceworks.org.