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September Is Attendance Awareness Month

August 31, 2018

Attendance Awareness Resources
MDE Strive for Less Than Five (Reading Well by 3rd Grade, Passing Courses, Graduation, College Degree, Work Success)
MDE Chronic Absenteeism
Mississippi Launches ‘Strive for Less Than Five’ Absence Prevention Campaign to Reduce Chronic Absenteeism

Attendance Awareness Month

Attendance Works

Did you know that chronic absence in kindergarten can affect a student's reading proficiency in third grade?

Did you know that even excused absences count when it comes to the negative impact of poor school attendance?

Jackson Public Schools is joining the Mississippi Department of Education's campaign to promote regular school attendance. The statewide campaign, Strive for Less Than Five, encourages students to miss no more than five days per school year. This purpose aligns with that of the national Attendance Awareness movement spearheaded by Attendance Works—to reduce chronic absence.

According to Attendance Works, chronic absence is when students miss 10 percent or more of the school year. With an average of 180 days of school, that is just 18 days a year or two days a month. It does not matter if these are excused or unexcused absences or suspensions, the impact is the same. Chronic absence puts students academically at risk.

"The research is clear about the negative effect that chronic absenteeism has on student achievement," said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. "If children are not in school, they are not learning. Starting as early as preschool and kindergarten, chronic absence can leave third graders unable to read proficiently, sixth graders struggling with coursework and high school students off track for graduation."

Attendance in the Early Grades

Attendance Works is a national initiative driven by a mission to advance student success by reducing chronic absenteeism. The Attendance in the Early Grades infographic below shows how attendance in pre-K, kindergarten, and first grade affects students and why it matters. It also offers specific action steps for families to avoid unnecessary absences for their school-age children.

Attendance in the Early Grades - Attendance Works (

Source: Attendance Works | Download: Attendance in the Early Grades (PDF)

Many of our youngest students miss 10 percent of the school year—about 18 days a year or just two days every month. Chronic absenteeism in kindergarten, and even pre-K, can predict lower test scores, poor attendance and retention in later grades, especially if the problem persists for more than a year. Do you know how many young children are chronically absent in your school or community?

Who is affected

Kindergarten and first-grade classes often have absenteeism rates as high as those in high school. Many of these absences are excused, but they still add up to lost time in the classroom.

  • 1 in 10 kids in kindergarten and first grade are chronically absent. In some schools, it's as high as 1 in 4.1
  • 2 in 10 low-income kids miss too much are chronically miss too much school. They're also more likely to suffer academically.
  • 2.5 in 10 homeless kids are chronically absent.
  • 4 in 10 transient kids miss too much school families move.

Why it matters

If children don't show up for school regularly, they miss out on fundamental reading and math skills and the chance to build a habit of good attendance that will carry them into college and careers.

Preliminary data from a California study found that children who were chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade were far less likely to read proficiently at the end of third grade.

Who can read on grade level after third grade?

  • 64% of kids with good attendance in kindergarten and first grade. (Missed nine or fewer days both years.)
  • 43% of kids with at-risk attendance. (Missed more than nine days both years.)
  • 41% of kids chronically absent in kindergarten or first grade. (Missed 18 or more days in one year.)
  • 17% of kids chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade. (Missed 18 or more days in both years.)

What families can do

  • Find out what day school starts and make sure your child has the required shots.
  • Build regular routines for bedtime and the morning.
  • Talk about the importance of regular attendance and about how your child feels about school.
  • Don't permit missing school unless your child is truly sick. Use a thermometer to check for a fever. Remember that stomach aches and headaches may be signs of anxiety.
  • Avoid medical appointments and extended trips when school is in session.
  • Keep a chart recording your child's attendance at home. At the end of the week, talk with your child about what you see.
  • Develop back up plans for getting to school if something comes up. Ask a family member, neighbor or another parent for help.
  • Seek support from school staff or community groups to help with transportation, health problems, or no safe path to school.