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Importance of School Attendance

Consistent attendance in school helps to promote a student’s success. Research has shown that students’ attendance may be the biggest factor in influencing academic achievement. A study by Balfanz, Robert and Vaughan Byrnes at Johns Hopkins University School found, “… that students who missed at least 20 days of school per year — the definition of chronic absenteeism — had lower grades and were more likely to drop out than students with better attendance.”
Attending school every day and being on time are important habits for a student to develop. Even in kindergarten, too many absences can cause a child to fall behind in school. Good attendance will help the student function well in school, college, and on the job.

Learning is a progressive activity; regular attendance enables each day’s lessons to build upon the child’s previous learning. Completing work independently does not compensate for the loss of insight during class discussions, demonstrations, and experiments. Frequent absences cause a child to be unable to keep up with their schoolwork and, therefore, foster lower grades. Regular attendance patterns encourage the development of other responsible patterns of behavior, while low attendance puts children at risk for anti-social behavior and dropping out of school.

Another outcome of absences is the lowering of funding for the entire district, impacting the adequacy of school resources. In Mississippi, unfortunately, schools are funded based on how many students attend classes each day instead of by enrollment. Funding by enrollment would be the logical basis for determining funding since teachers have to be in place for all children enrolled. However, Mississippi schools receive State funding according to their average daily attendance (ADA), the actual number of students present each day. In addition, a new rule has been put in place in Mississippi requiring students to be present for 63% of the instructional day for schools to receive the daily rate of funding for that student.

Each child’s educational progress is impacted by their attendance in school. In practical terms, children’s attendance also impacts school resources. By ensuring that our students are present each day for class, we are able to ensure that adequate funds from the State reach our District.

Parents can assist in limiting absences by helping their children arrive at school on time, checking their homework, avoid scheduling medical appointments during the school day, and planning family events or trips with the school schedule in mind. Setting a regular bedtime and morning routine, as well as, preparing clothes and school backpacks the night before, are also helpful behaviors in fostering school attendance.

Students can fall behind in class easily by missing just a few days of school. As a parent or guardian, it is possible to limit your child’s absences by making school a priority. Building good attendance helps your child to succeed in school and to develop good habits that will serve them throughout life.

Photo of Superintendent Dr. David Daigneault