Students who miss school frequently
are more likely to drop out of high school, have low grades, and have problems
with reading proficiency, studies show.
Because of this, the San Diego
County Board of Education passed a resolution Sept. 10 recognizing September as Attendance Awareness Month. The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE)
has joined a nationwide effort to raise awareness about the value of regular
school attendance while focusing on reducing chronic absenteeism in 2014-15.
“Here at the San Diego County
Office of Education, we are committed to supporting school districts and
community partners so students will be successful in school, and attendance is
one of the most critical factors connected to student success,” said Don
Buchheit, SDCOE’s interim assistant superintendent.
The problem of chronic absenteeism
is larger than many people realize.
Nationwide an estimated 5 million
to 7.5 million students are chronically absent each year, meaning they miss 10
percent or more of the school year in excused and unexcused absences. That’s
about 18 or 19 days in a typical year.
And it’s not just a problem for
older students. One in 10 kindergarten and first-grade students is chronically
absent each year. Those children are less likely to read proficiently by the
time they finish third grade. Only about 17 percent of students who were
chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade could read at grade level by
the end of third grade, compared to 62 percent for those who attended
regularly, according to preliminary statewide data.
A student who is chronically absent
any year between eighth and 12th grade was 7.4 times more likely to drop out,
one study shows.
During Attendance Awareness Month,
school leaders, community advocates, parents and students will work together to
build a habit and a culture of regular attendance, use data to monitor when
chronic absence is a problem, and identify and solve barriers to getting children
Although the problem affects
everybody, some students are more likely of having attendance problems than
Children with certain risk
factors—including poverty, homelessness and disabilities—are more likely to be
chronic absent and often lack the resources to make up for the lost
opportunities to learn in the classroom. Students from low-income families are
four times more likely to be chronically absent.
“School attendance can be improved,
and chronic absence significantly reduced, when schools, parents, and
communities work together to monitor and promote good attendance and address
hurdles that keep children from getting to school,” the board of education
resolution approved Sept. 10 states.