I used to do a unit in the English classroom for soon-to-graduate seniors about how to be successful in college. They were given the following options of which factor was a greater predictor of obtaining good grades: 1. Attendance, 2. Sitting in the front of the class, or 3. Taking great notes. Students were always surprised to learn that Attendance was the most important indicator of success.
September is National Attendance Month. The Kansas State Department of Education has identified resources to encourage attendance at school. Here are a few identified facts:
1. Good attendance contributes to students doing well in school and eventually in the workplace. The school years are essential for laying a foundation for strong attendance and academic success in future years. Each absence represents a preventable lost learning opportunity.
2. Students are at risk academically if they are chronically absent (missing just two days a month or 10 percent of the school year). When too many absences occur, they can affect learning — just one or two days a month can add up to nearly 10 percent of the school year.
3. Students are more likely to attend school if they feel safe (emotionally and physically), connected, supported, and believe they can learn and achieve. School staff, especially teachers, play a primary role in creating an engaging school climate and culture that encourages students to attend and fosters student self-efficacy. Caring teachers are critical to encouraging families and students to pay attention to absences and to help overcome barriers.
4. Families, educators and community partners need to monitor how many days a student misses school. Families should track how many days their children have missed so they are aware of when they should take action.
5. Reducing chronic absence helps create more equitable academic outcomes, especially for children who live in poverty, experience discrimination and have disabilities.
As I listen to USD 113 employers, the first suggestion I hear is for schools to train students to “show up.” Employees are not successful if they are not at work, and students begin these habits by being at school. By communicating the importance of attendance at school, we are helping to establish the values for children to succeed in the workplace.
Our communities are collectively responsible for the education of our children. As we continue to shift our focus in education from content knowledge to skill attainment, attendance becomes even more critical for student success.