United Way of the Southern Tier

School attendance is essential to academic success, but too often students, parents and schools do not realize how quickly absences - excused as well as 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. The impact hits low-income students, who most depend on school for providing opportunities to learn, particularly hard.

Chronic absence is an alarming, largely overlooked problem that is preventing too many children from having a chance to learn and succeed.

The good news is that we can fix this problem. Chronic absence can be reduced when schools and communities partner to build a strong culture of attendance and work with students and families to identify barriers to getting to school. This work starts by helping everyone in a community recognize that they have a stake and a role in ensuring that students are in school every day so they can learn.

For Parents

Attending school regularly helps children feel better about school - and themselves. Start building this habit in preschool so they learn right away that going to school on time, every day is important. Good attendance will help children do well in high school, college, and at work. Here are some tips for making attendance a priority in elementary school:

  • Set a regular bed time and morning routine.
  • Lay out clothes and pack backpacks the night before.
  • Find out what day school starts and make sure your child has the required shots.
  • Click here for more.

Showing up for school has a huge impact on a student's academic success through high school as well. Even as children grow older and more independent, families play a key role in making sure students get to school safely every day and understand why attendance is so important for success in school and on the job.

Did you know ...

  • Students should miss no more than 18 days of school each year to stay engaged, successful and on track to graduation.
  • Absences can be a sign that a student is losing interest in school, struggling with school work, dealing with a bully or facing some other potentially serious difficulty.
  • By 6th grade, absenteeism is one of three signs that a student may drop out of high school.
  • By 9th grade, regular and high attendance is a better predictor of graduation rates than 8th grade test scores.

Click here for more information about communicating with your teen and school about attendance.

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