School system promotes Attendance Awareness Month
LaGRANGE — For school districts across the country, September marks a nationwide effort to highlight the importance of student attendance. Aptly titled Attendance Awareness Month, it is designed to raise community awareness about the value of regular school attendance in hopes of reducing chronic absenteeism.
“We have made great strides in improving our curriculum,” said Cole Pugh, superintendent of Troup County School System. “Our teachers work diligently to incorporate rigorous instruction, provide relevant learning, and build relationships with each student. Having students in school on time every day matters to make the connection between these three elements.”
Chronic absences from school – described as missing 18 or more days for any reason – can negatively impact student performance, according to school system officials. Nationally, 5 million to 7.5 million students miss nearly a month of school in both excused and unexcused absences each year.
According to attendanceworks.org, chronic absences as early as preschool and kindergarten can predict lower reading scores by the time a student reaches third grade. By middle school, it is a warning sign that a student will likely fail key classes and potentially later drop out of high school.
During the 2015-2016 school year, a little over 7 percent of TCSS students missed one month or more of school.
“Research increasingly indicates attendance at all ages is incredibly important and is directly correlated to student success and graduation rates,” said Melissa Foster, Gardner Newman Middle School graduation coach. “A student who misses school is not able to benefit from important academic instruction he or she will need in order to be successful in school, and ultimately to be a successful citizen.”
To show the importance of attendance, some local schools have implemented a monthly reward system for students and parents, while others are increasing parent communication and reiterating the school board attendance policy.
“This school year, we counsel students when they reach three absences as opposed to five. We also reach out to parents to notify them when their child is missing school,” Foster continued. “We are constantly hearing from businesses that soft skills such as timeliness and attendance are lacking in our young workforce. They must be present and on time in order to learn, achieve, and succeed in school just like they would when they are ready to start their careers.”