Students can suffer academically if they miss 10% of the school year, or about 18 days. That's just one day every two weeks.
Research shows that missing 2-3 days a month is considered chronically absent, and can translate into third-graders being unable to master reading, sixth-graders failing courses and ultimately, teens dropping out of high school.
Some absences are unavoidable. We understand that children will get sick and need to stay home occasionally. The important thing is to get students to school as often as possible and on time. Families should communicate with their school when students are absent.
Sporadic absences, not just those on consecutive days of school, matter. Before you know it – just one or two days a month can add up.
You can turn to the school for help. We offer services for the whole family. Seek help if you are facing tough challenges related to access to health care, unstable housing, poor transportation or lack of food.
- How can I check my child's attendance?
- How do I let the school know that my child will be absent?
- Why is regular school attendance important for my child?
- How many absences are ok?
- What counts as an excused absence?
- Is it really that big a deal if my child is late to school?
- What can I do to help my child get to school on time every day?
Regular school attendance is incredibly important! Attending school regularly helps children feel better about school and themselves. Good attendance will help children do well in middle school, high school, college and work. Why should your child attend school regularly?
- Starting in kindergarten, too many absences can cause children to fall behind in school. Data has shown that just 17% of children who were chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade were not able to read at grade level by the end of 3rd grade.
- Missing 10% of the school year (or 18 days) can make it harder to learn to read and do math, and negatively affects a student's academic performance in all areas. That's missing just 2 days a month.
- Students can fall behind quickly if they miss just a day or two days every few weeks.
- Absences can affect the whole classroom, if the teacher has to slow down learning to help children catch up.
- Being absent frequently can cause children to develop a poor attendance pattern that's hard to break.
- By 6th grade, chronic absence is a leading indicator that a student will drop out of high school.
Once a child is enrolled in school, no matter their age, they are required by law to attend school regularly. We are not expecting all of our students to have perfect attendance, and we understand that students will need to miss school from time to time. However, one or two absences here and there can add up quickly. Students should aim to miss less than 10 days of school in a single school year, and under 5 days is an even better goal! Missing between 10 and 17 days of school in a single year puts a student at risk of falling behind. Missing 18 or more days in a single school year is considered being chronically absent and could result in legal action.
Your child misses approximately 6 hours of instructional time for each day he or she misses. This is time that is not easy to make up! Whether the absences are excused or unexcused, your child is missing important learning when they are not at school!
Absences are usually, but not always, considered to be excused if they fall under one of the following categories:
- Participation in a district or school activity or program
- Illness or an unavoidable medical appointment
- Family emergency, including a death or illness in the family
- Religious or cultural events
- Court or judicial proceeding
- Absence directly related to the student's homeless status
- Suspension or expulsion
Vacations are NOT considered excused absences, and should be taken when school is not in session.
Medical appointments should also be avoided if possible during the school day.
The principal has the authority to determine if an absence meets the criteria to be deemed an excused absence. An absence may not be considered excused if it causes a serious adverse effect on the student's educational progress.
- Let your child know that you believe school and attendance are important. Talk to your child about the importance of regular attendance and about how your child feels about school.
- Set a regular bed time and morning routine appropriate for your child's age.
- Lay out clothes and pack backpacks the night before.
- Know what time school starts.
- Develop a back-up plan for getting to school if something comes up. Ask family members, neighbors, or other parents to lend a hand if you need help dropping off or picking up your child.
- Don't let your child stay home unless he or she is truly sick. Complaints of a stomach ache or headache can be a sign of anxiety, NOT a reason to stay home.
- Do not keep your child home to care for other children or to take care of chores.
- Schedule medical appointments and extended trips when school is not in session.
- If your child seems anxious about going to school, talk to his or her teacher, the school counselor, other parents, or your doctor for advice on how to make your child feel comfortable and excited about learning.
- Find something about school that engages your child, such as a sports team, club, or another activity. Use that to motivate your child to go to school every day on time.
- Regularly check your student's attendance and academic progress by using the parent portal.