Attendance matters

Some readers who can remember back to the early 1990s may remember an infomercial starring John Ritter for a VHS Tape called, Where There’s a Will, There’s an “A.” When I first saw it, I thought it was a type of educational snake oil. It went against the value I placed on work ethic because it sold the idea of not working harder, but working smarter. I watched this video and came to appreciate much of the information.

One “Aha” moment for me was a segment on the importance of attendance. It asserted that all other factors considered, the highest correlation to earning good grades is attendance. An example of this is that during a ten-day unit, if a student misses one day, they have missed 10 percent of the material for that test. They also have missed the learning that could build toward future learning. Many subjects have content that “spirals,” meaning that future learning is dependent on previous learning.

September is National Attendance Month. The Kansas State Department of Education has identified a few attendance facts:

1. Good attendance contributes to students doing well in school and eventually in the workplace. The school years are essential for laying a foundation for strong attendance and academic success in future years.

2. Students are at risk academically if they are chronically absent (missing just two days a month or 10 percent of the school year).

3. Reducing chronic absence helps create more equitable academic outcomes, especially for children who live in poverty, have disabilities, etc.

Absenteeism, especially chronic absenteeism, is one of the measures evaluated for school accreditation. Chronic absenteeism occurs when a student misses 10 percent or more of school days. Although better than the overall state average, USD 113’s chronic absenteeism has increased 123 percent from 2019-2021. Some of this may be attributed to quarantines, but the state increase during the same time for chronic absenteeism is 26 percent, so there are other factors at play.

As I listen to employers in the USD 113 area, the first request I hear is for schools to train students to “show up.” Employees are not successful if they are not at work. Students are not successful if they are not in school. By communicating the importance and expectation of attendance, we are helping to establish the values for children to succeed in the workplace.

Our communities are collectively responsible for the education of our children. The emphasis we place on school attendance communicates our educational and work place expectations to our kids.

Todd Evans20 Posts

Todd Evans currently serves as Superintendent of Prairie Hills USD No. 113 in Kansas. USD No. 113 operates Pre-K through 12 schools in the communities of Sabetha, Wetmore and Axtell.

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