Saturday, October 13, 2012

What's the big deal about student attendance?

So, what IS the big deal about school attendance? In fact, school attendance is extremely important in a student's school career. Often, we have parents who express their disregard for the importance of their kindergartner, first, or second grade student being at school everyday - on time & remaining at school all day. I wanted to take a few minutes to share with you why attendance is emphasized right from the beginning of a student's school career at Petal Primary School.
  • Chronic absence in kindergarten is associated with lower academic achievement in first grade. Starting right from kindergarten, too many absences can cause children to fall behind.
  • Many people don't realize that growing numbers of elementary age students have attendance problems. Nationally, one in 10 kindergarten & 1st grade students misses up to a month of school every year.
  • Students can fall behind if they miss just a day or two days every few weeks.
  • It is critical that good attendance habits are developed in the early grades to ensure success for the remainder of a child's school years.
  • Absences can affect the other students in the classroom when the teacher has to slow down to help children catch up.
  • Being late or checking out early may also impact a student's academic performance.
  • Good attendance helps children feel more confident about school and themselves.                               
In addition to the negative impact on students' learning, absences impact school districts' funding. The Petal School District receives its funding based on ADA - average daily attendance. Therefore, student absences negatively impact the funding we receive. Last year our district worked hard to increase the overall ADA. In August/September of 2011-2012, Petal Primary's ADA was 97.05%. This year Petal Primary's August/September ADA is 95.89% - down 1.16%. We are asking for your help as we try to increase our ADA each month throughout the remainder of the school year.

How can parents help?
  • Establish those critical routines - bed time, morning routines, etc. Lay out clothes, backpack, etc. the night before.
  • Send your child to school unless he/she is truly sick. Of course, children with fever need to miss school. 
  • If your child seems worried or nervous about going to school, please talk with the teacher, the counselor, or one of the principals so that we can help him to feel safe and welcome at school.
  • Try to schedule medical appointments &/or trips when school is not in session.
Please keep in mind that the habits developed early in a child's school career are very important - we want these habits to be good ones so that the patterns that develop help the child succeed throughout their academic career.

Throughout the year, each class works hard to have good attendance. Many of you probably saw the pictures of students with perfect attendance posted shortly after midterm of students receiving the gold medallions. This will become a ritual that we will do each midterm and at the end of each nine weeks term. In just a few days, we will present the end-of-term medals. Stay tuned for pictures.

Thank you for your continued support & for helping us continue to "Stand Tall"!