• 64°

Making Every School Day Count

School has started, and the first days of school bring to mind images of backpacks stuffed with new school supplies, freshly decorated bulletin boards created by that favorite teacher and catching up from summer vacation with old friends. The energy that is created in the first days of school is a great place to begin building positive habits for good school attendance.

Our community will be recognizing September as Attendance Awareness Month, part of a nationwide movement to spread the message that every school day counts.

Problems with absenteeism start surprisingly early. National research shows that one in 10 kindergarten and first-grade students are chronically absent, meaning that they miss 10 percent of the school year, or about 18 days of instruction, because of excused or unexcused absences. These early absences can rob students of the time they need to develop literacy skills. Children who are chronically absent in kindergarten and first-grade are less likely to read proficiently by the third grade. Most students who fail to reach this critical milestone falter in the later grades. By middle school, chronic absence becomes one of the leading indicators that a student will drop out of high school.

A key step in spreading the message is letting families know the critical role they play in getting children to school on time every day. Parents, it is up to you to build a habit of good school attendance, enforce bedtimes and other routines, and avoid vacations while school is in session.

Our schools are held accountable for helping all children achieve, providing effective teaching for all children in every classroom every day. All of our investments in curriculum and instruction will not succeed if students are not showing up to benefit from them.

Our schools cannot do this alone: we are calling on the whole community to help convey the message that every school day counts. Businesses, faith leaders and community volunteers can mobilize to remove barriers, expand opportunities and assist parents in fulfilling their roles and responsibilities by serving as full partners in the success of our community’s children. Join us in our effort to make every day count.

For parent resources and more information on Attendance Matters, our community’s attendance awareness campaign, visit www.oxfordsd.org/AttendanceMatters.

Suzanne Ryals

Director of Early Childhood and Reading Development