Press-Republican

September 19, 2013

Editorial: Attendance does matter

--
Press-Republican

---- — Being a kid attending school these days can be challenging. They have to deal with getting up early in the morning, getting to school on time, doing homework and class-learning, listening, speaking and using writing skills.

And they oftentimes have to concern themselves with un-fun, teaching-to-the test curricula.

But the bottom line is getting to school. And that’s become a problem nationwide.

To wit: One in 10 students misses at least 10 percent of school days each year. That’s unacceptable.

To combat absenteeism in schools, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has launched a new public awareness initiative to promote school attendance.

According to a news release, the program addresses the detrimental impact chronic absences have on student performance and promotes strategies to engage students in school, better preparing them for academic success.

The Every Student Present campaign will be spearheaded by the Council on Children and Families and lend a hand to school leaders, parents and communities to help make school attendance a habit.

It’ll be focused on building awareness of the issue, creating engaging school environments, using data to identify chronically absent students and exploring ways to provide support that can help students and families.

According to Attendance Works, an initiative that promotes awareness of the important role school attendance plays in achieving academic success, about four in 10 kindergarten and first-grade students will miss about a month of school, which particularly jeopardizes early reading proficiency.

Further, Attendance Works finds that chronically absent sixth-grade students graduate less frequently than their peers.

While all children, regardless of their socio-economic background, perform poorly in school when they’re chronically absent, satisfactory school attendance is particularly problematic among children living in poverty. Reasons for chronic absenteeism include illnesses like asthma, safety concerns and bullying, academic failure, transportation problems and family issues.

According to the CCF, chronic absenteeism is one of the earliest indications that students aren’t on course. By tracking the number of absences a student has, whether they’re excused or unexcused, the agency claims it can take early action when prevention interventions are most likely to succeed.

Common sense and research show that attendance does matter. Students need to be physically in school.

The good news is that the problem is solvable. Experts say that attendance can improve when schools, communities and families partner to monitor chronic-absence date, build a local culture of daily attendance and identify and address barriers to getting to class.

To see how you can contribute, check out www.everystudentpresent.org.