Good school attendance ensures student success over entire academic careers

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Woodland Public Schools staff spread the word to emphasize the importance of good attendance helping students achieve their goals, graduate from high school, and learn effectively throughout their school careers. Poor attendance and tardiness can have dramatic negative effects on a student’s ability to learn and retain new material.

Studies show attendance is a leading indicator of academic performance.
Studies show attendance is a leading indicator of academic performance. 

Research demonstrates that poor attendance affects students at every age, from kindergarten through high school, potentially causing them to remain behind academically for their entire school career. "Missing only 10% of school days, just two days every couple of weeks for a total of 18 throughout the year, can make it harder for younger students, in particular, to learn basic skills like mathematics and reading," explained Stacy Mouat, Truancy Specialist for Woodland Public Schools. "By sixth grade, absenteeism is a leading sign that a student may drop out of high school."

In a Chicago-based study, attendance, not test scores, was the single largest predictor of course failure for Chicago freshmen students in high school. The study concluded course attendance has been shown to be eight times more predictive than eighth-grade test scores for course failure in ninth grade.

A Chicago study found attendance as eight times more predictive for course failure in ninth grade than even eighth-grade test scores.
A Chicago study found attendance as eight times more predictive for course failure in ninth grade than even eighth-grade test scores. 

Research also shows that low attendance can cause emotional and health issues for students, too. "Students who are chronically absent tend to struggle with self-esteem issues as well as depression," said Mouat. "Delinquent students tend to engage in unlawful activities that lead to very negative long-term life consequences." Conversely, Mouat explains that students with good attendance learn valuable life skills helping them succeed in life, "By starting young, students learn how to establish routines, set goals, and develop a strong work ethic by attending school regularly."

Students learn more in the morning making tardiness an important target of improvement for schools. A study performed by the U.S. Department of Education found the most crucial learning hours of a school day are the morning hours because those are when students are the most attentive. "The importance of timely attendance cannot be understated; the more time students spend in class, the more they learn," said Mouat. "Students who read poorly at the end of first grade almost never acquire average reading skills by the end of their time in elementary school."

To make matters worse, students who arrive late to class decrease their classmates' learning as well. The same Department of Education study found students who are tardy cause a distraction for the entire class when they arrive. Also, teachers must spend extra time and attention helping a student catch up on what was missed which can lead to slower learning for the other students in class. "Additionally, school districts can lose state funding due to chronically-absent students since monetary values are calculated based on enrollment which is directly linked to attendance records," said Mouat. "Poor attendance, whether excused or unexcused, doesn't just affect that student, but the whole classroom as well as the entire district."

Students with good attendance have an easier time staying up with their studies at every age in their school career.
Students with good attendance have an easier time staying up with their studies at every age in their school career. 

In order to effectively communicate with parents about possible attendance issues, Mouat, Truancy Specialist, and Leslie Mohlman, Community Student, Family Resource Coordinator, work closely with school counselors, administrators, teachers, and families to identify problems and provide resource to improve student attendance in order to advance academic success. "Parents are the key factor in helping their student succeed at school," explained Mouat. "Parents need to make sure school is a priority by stressing the importance of being at school every day and not making exceptions other than when critically necessary such as when a student is ill."

Woodland Public Schools provides other tips for parents to help their students stay healthy, well-rested, and maintain good attendance:

  • Make sure students get to bed at a reasonable time. A well-rested student is a student prepared to learn.

  • Have students prepare for school the night before by having backpacks ready and clothes set out so the morning routine goes smoothly.

  • Set an alarm so your student gets up in time to get to school before the start of the day.

  • Make sure your student eats breakfast either at home or at school. Studies show students who do not eat breakfast have poorer performance than students who eat before class.

  • Put your student on the bus to ensure the student attends school or have a buddy walk with your student to school in the morning.

  • Schedule family vacations and doctor appointments outside of school days and/or school hours.

  • Talk to your student to find the cause of any anxiety and/or sleep issues. If bullying or other factors hinder your child's motivation to attend school, maintain good communication with your school to ensure the issue is addressed by school personnel.

  • Stay on top of your student's academic success and attendance by checking Skyward Family Access on a regular basis. Additionally, many teachers provide weekly progress reports or assignment updates so signing up for those communications will also help parents stay informed. 

  • Know your child's friends and social contacts as peer pressure or feeling isolated can also lead to students missing school. Encouraging students to engage in meaningful school activities such as sports and clubs is a key tool parents can utilize in motivating their students.

Partnerships between schools and parents prove instrumental in students' academic success. "Sometimes schools are viewed as 'the enemy' when, in reality, we are all working towards the same goal - individual student success," explained Mouat. "Woodland Public Schools strives to provide the best learning environment as possible so every student feels safe and valued, but the parent relationship is the most important one in a child's life so teamwork between parents and their schools can be instrumental for student success."

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