Attendance Matters Today and Every Day
Chronic Absenteeism Is a National Problem
Every day matters.
That’s the message for Kalamazoo Public Schools students and parents when it comes to attendance.
“Your opportunity for success begins with you being present,” said Nkenge Bergan, director of Student Services for Kalamazoo Public Schools. “The goal is to keep students connected to their learning.”
KPS is working to address issues of absenteeism in a proactive, community-driven way, Bergan said. Schools now focus on providing as much support as possible to students to encourage them to attend every day.
That can range from providing school nurses who can help students manage chronic ill nesses to practicing restorative conferencing and mediation to help resolve conflicts between students. Academic support specialists work with students, teachers offer before- and after- school hours to meet with students, and athletic study halls encourage group study — all to help students overcome academic frustrations.
Chronic absenteeism is a national problem. According to the website AttendanceWorks.org, which defines chronic absence as missing 10 percent or more of school days for any reason, excused or unexcused, including illness, skipping school, suspensions, transportation issues, or family vacations. More than 8 million students miss enough school to put them at academic risk. A national 2017 Brookings Institute report links chronic absenteeism to poor grades and lower graduation rates.
“Good school attendance is important for many reasons,” said Lanisha Hannah-Spiller, principal of Washington Writers’ Academy. “The obvious one is that when children are not in school regularly or on time, it creates gaps in the learning process. It causes them to miss important elements of curriculum.
“Good attendance also is important for teaching children the process of ‘doing school.’ is means that not only do children learn reading, writing, math, social studies and science in school. They also learn important procedural elements, rou- tines and social skills that aid in their success in school and life.”
Dr. Jeffery Boggan, principal at Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts, agreed and said good attendance is vital for academic success, but it also helps ensure students build positive relationships with staff and fellow students. Ultimately, “it helps our students develop skills necessary for college, a career, and being productive members of their community,” Boggan said.
Bergan said any parent struggling with attendance issues should feel to contact his or her child’s school for assistance.
“We do all of these things to meet the needs of the child and of the families,” she said.
Tips for Encouraging Good Attendance
Practice what you preach: “The art and science of teaching includes modeling,” said Micole Dyson, principal of Woods Lake Elementary. “While we could point to the research that supports good school attendance, it has more of an impact when parents model for children good attendance.”
Remember GLAD: is simple acronym has the keys to attendance success.
— Get a good night’s rest.
— Lay your clothes out the night before.
— Arrange your breakfast and lunch plans for the next day.
— Don’t continue to hit the snooze button.
Make school a priority: Mike Hughes, principal of Winchell Elementary School, said, “When students understand school is important, they are more motivated to succeed.”
Set a non-negotiable bedtime: School-age children generally require eight to 12 hours of sleep per night to be well rested, with younger children needing more sleep than their older siblings. Remove screens and electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
Good attendance begins with good health: Make getting enough sleep part of an overall health plan that includes diet and exercise.
Make school about more than just studying: Build strong school relationships. Encourage students to participate
in extra-curricular activities. Relationships and social involvement will make the school experience more balanced and engaging.