Trinity County Office of Education
Sarah Supahan – County Superintendent of Schools
www.tcoek12.org • (530) 623-2861
Written by Anthony Rebelo, Ph.D - Selpa Director / Assistant Superintendent
As we move through the holiday break and into the second half of the school year, we wanted to take a moment to remind everyone how important attendance is in our children’s education. Attendance can sometimes sneak up on us, but consider this fact: A student who misses just two days of school per month would be considered chronically absent or “truant” over the course of a school year. This is important because studies indicate that beginning as early as first grade, students who are chronically absent (missing ten percent of the school year or more which equals just 19 days each year) are much more likely to become high school dropouts.
Studies on attendance have also shown that students who are chronically absent in the early grades (K-3) are less likely to read at the same level as other kids their age. We must remember that if our students are not in class during this important time of their lives, they are not learning the skills needed for successful learning in the higher grades. This can be seen not only in the K-12 setting, but also in the college setting. Students are less likely to continue into their second year of college if they have experienced chronic absenteeism in the past (11% of chronically absent students continued into the second year of college vs. 51% of non-chronically absent students).
We know that students get sick and most kids will experience multiple illnesses over the course of a school year. That being said, we also want to make sure our students have every opportunity available to them for learning, and attendance should not be a barrier. If your child is sick, the most important thing you can do is let your local school know. If you don’t communicate the problem, those involved can’t help. Often times, through community partnerships, local schools have tools and contacts available to assist you with what may be causing the attendance problems. Secondly, consider the symptoms when trying to decide if your student should go to school. If your student has just a small cough or runny nose and no fever in the last 24 hours, they are probably fine to go to school. If they have had a fever within the last 24 hours or have been vomiting, then it’s probably best to keep them home.
As we move into the second half of the school year and into the thick of cold and flu season, we wanted to provide some important tips on deciding whether or not to send your child to school, and to remind everyone that attendance plays an important role in how well children learn and their long-term achievement. For more on any of the information above, please see In School + On Track, a report on truancy in California or visit www.attendanceworks.org.