Here’s How You Can Celebrate National Attendance Awareness Month

August 21, 2015

If students aren’t in school, they aren’t learning.

Although it seems like a simple fact, the truth is that as early as kindergarten, one in 10 students are missing 10 percent of the school year. And that number doubles for low-income students. Chronic absenteeism in kindergarten is predictive of lower test scores, poor attendance and a greater chance of being held back in later grades. By the third grade, only 17 percent of students who were chronically absent in first grade and kindergarten read on grade level. That compares to 64 percent of students who had good attendance during those years.

The reasons for so many missed school days are varied, from unreliable transportation to health issues and family culture. And the interventions have to be just as varied.

As students across the country prepare to head back to school, we’re gearing up for Attendance Awareness Month in September. Healthy Schools Campaign has signed up as a convening partner in this nationwide effort, and we’re looking forward to engaging in productive conversations about this important work.

We prepared a research brief with Attendance Works called “Mapping the Early Attendance Gap” that looks at gaps in attendance. Absenteeism disproportionately affects students from low-income families and communities of color, as well as those with disabilities. The report will be released soon, and we’re also partnering on a webinar. The Mapping the Early Attendance Gap webinar on Wednesday, September 9, at 2 p.m. ET will explore when and why these gaps develop and how parents, schools, health providers and community partners can work together to close them. A panel of leaders from states that are taking a close look at the attendance gaps in their communities will share their insights. This will be a special edition of United Way Worldwide’s regular What’s Happening? Wednesday webinar.

We’re also co-hosting a Tweet Chat, along with the Data Quality Campaign (DQC), on Sept. 24 about chronic absenteeism. Stay tuned for more details on this event.

We’re not the only ones planning big events for this month. Attendance Works has put together a map that sources all the events around National Attendance Awareness month. You can see that map here. Have an event? Add it!

Stay tuned to our blog for more in-depth coverage of chronic absenteeism, the health issues that cause students to miss school and other related events throughout September.