Educational Editorial: School attendance and performance

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – An Education Week commentary recently focused on "Five Myths about School Attendance."

1) Students don't start missing a lot of school until middle or high school. In reality one out of five students in kindergarten and first grade miss one or more days each month. This can lead to chronic absences.

2) Absences in the early grades don't really affect academics. Not only is there a high correlation between attendance and achievement, time is wasted as teachers repeat work.

3) Most schools already know how many students are chronically absent. Schools and districts know far more about averages than they do about individuals. Absenteeism may be described broadly, but it must be addressed specifically.

4) There's not much that schools can do to improve attendance; it's up to the parents. The most important organization in a student's success is the family, but this does permit or excuse a school's abdication of its responsibility. There are many programs that offer intervention, but the most effective solution is strong communication between parents and school personnel…when we talk!

5) The Federal government has no role in reducing chronic absence. While I believe that the best resolution is always close to the problem, the Fed could begin to focus less on requiring common standards and more on requiring states to compile data about the factors that influence student success.

Bravo to schools that now recognize perfect attendance…it seems that being there is critical to how well you do.

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