Every day counts – Part I

Published 6:39 pm Monday, August 27, 2018

School has been in session for just over three weeks now and some of our scholars have already missed more than a day or two.  Every day of school counts and there is research to support the importance of students attending school regularly and on time.  It is every parent or care giver’s responsibility to ensure that this is the case.  Poor school attendance can have a long-term impact.

Nationwide, 8 million students miss enough days of school a year to endanger their success academically.  Chronic absenteeism refers to students who miss 10 percent or more of the school year.  For Selma City, that amounts to 18 days and it doesn’t matter whether the days are excused or unexcused.  We are seriously concerned about our scholars well before 18 missed school days because we recognize that missed days mean missed instruction.  Missed instruction impedes progression towards grade-level readiness and overall success.  This is especially true for reading.

September is National School Attendance Month.  School attendance should be addressed as soon as it is recognized as a problem.  A recent study found that students who missed fewer than two days in September typically missed no more than two days each month during the school year.  These students missed an average of 10 days.  In contrast, students who missed between 2 and 4 days in September were absent up to 25 days during the year or two to three days each month.

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Why does it matter?  There is a direct correlation between early absences and reading difficulties.  One in 10 kindergarten first-grade grade students nationally miss close to a month of school.  Some of our young scholars miss more than that.  Students who are chronically absent in these early grades are far less likely to become proficient readers by the end of third grade.

Pre-K students do not get a pass on this.  When students are chronically absent in pre-k, they start kindergarten less prepared.  For example, not having a good grasp on letter recognition interferes with a kindergartner’s ability to begin mastering other early literacy skills like phonological awareness (being able to hear and recognize sounds in words).  This is an important skill as it helps children sound out words when they begin to read.  Not mastering this skill is a reason that many children have difficulty reading beyond kindergarten.

The message is clear. We need our scholars in school daily and on time.  Over the next couple of weeks, I will share more research and information about how Selma City Schools is engaging families and the community around student attendance.  Every day counts!

For more information please reach out to me at avis.williams@selmacityschools.org.

Dr. Avis Williams is the Superintendent for Selma City Schools.