Attending School First Step to Success
By Jeanne Crocker
It’s a new school year and I’d like to welcome students back to school with the same words I used to say to my own kids when they were younger: Learn everything!
I’ll also add this: Attend school regularly! That will make it possible for you to learn.
September is Attendance Awareness Month, a nationwide recognition of the fact that school attendance impacts academic achievement. It’s a time for schools and communities to promote good attendance and take steps to address the problem of chronic absence – missing 18 or more days during the school year.
Research tells us that missing school negatively impacts students’ learning. Here are some findings:
- Children who are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are much less likely to read at grade level by the end of third grade.
- By sixth grade, chronic absence is a proven early warning sign for students at risk for dropping out of school.
- By ninth grade, good attendance is a predictor of not only graduation rates but also success in college.
Here in Maine, we are fortunate to have Count ME In partnering with school districts such as ours to address school attendance. Count ME In is a partnership of schools, youth, families, and the community, including businesses, state agencies and community organizations, working together to help children to learn and succeed.
Susan Lieberman, director of Count ME In, said, “I can’t emphasize enough that it’s a collective effort on everyone’s part to help kids attend school regularly.”
That’s why Count ME In is inviting everyone to its 2015 Fall Summit, which is titled: “Attendance Matters: Connecting for Student Success.” The event will take place on Oct. 29, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn in Freeport.
Hedy Chang, the director of Attendance Works, a national and state level initiative aimed at advancing student success by addressing chronic absenteeism, will be the keynote speaker. Learn more about the conference at www.countmeinmaine.org.
When we say “chronic absenteeism,” it may sound as if we’re talking about students who miss weeks of school in a row. However, as Lieberman noted, it’s rarely the case that students are absent 18 days or more all at once. More typically, students miss two or three days per month – but that can quickly add up to missing a significant percentage of the school year.
Of course, some absences can’t be avoided due to health reasons or emergency circumstances. But when students miss too much school, whatever the reason, they can fall behind and get discouraged.