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"!


  1. I understand what you are saying, but rewarding a 5 y/o for something that is required, while another 5 y/o receives detention for 3 check-outs @ 2pm teaches the child what? We did not know about the rule at the time or we would have gotten excuses..our child did not miss but the last 10 minutes of the day and 2 of those days were for doctor appointments. Why punish a child that has no control over attendance. Please explain the excuses not being accepted if they forget for a couple of days.The child is a pick-up and they release @ I do not think he missed anything but getting his things ready to go sit in the hall..he started school with bi-lateral ear infections, but he was there every day....not mad just don't understand...

  2. Thank you for sharing your concerns. At the beginning of the school year, we tried to make sure that parents were informed of our policies. This was done in a couple of ways. First, the attendance policy, along with several other key policies, was detailed on the Handbook Acknowledgement Form that parents signed during those first few days of school. Also, we held Parent Information Nights where these policies were discussed at length. Even with our best efforts, sometimes we fail to adequately explain the various policies to all of our parents. I'm sorry this was the case with your situation. Since each scenario is unique, and I'm unfamiliar with your child's checkouts, etc., I encourage you to give me a call at school and discuss it further.

    Two years ago before we implemented the current tardy/check-out policy, we averaged around 900 check-outs per month. The new policy has helped to significantly lower the number of check-outs and tardies. We do understand that there are always circumstances that warrant a child being either tardy or checked out especially for a medical reason. In the future, if you have a concern or question about any of the policies, please talk to your child's teacher, and please feel free to call the office to speak to me or one of our assistant principals.

    I applaud you for having your child at school daily and for speaking out with your concerns. I look forward to hearing from you.