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Kuzniewski: Why school attendance matters

Community Voice

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013 3:06 p.m. CDT

Student attendance is something that we record each day for two very important reasons. One, to report to parents the amount of instructional time that each student loses during the school year, and two, for funding purposes. 

Common sense tells us there is a positive relationship between the time students spend in class and their academic success. Because of the high absentee rate in our district, I would like to share some alarming research that illustrates the consequences of poor daily attendance.

In a recent study, researchers found that, “There is a significant relationship between student attendance and student achievement." The correlation of student attendance and student achievement is strong, with the most significant relationship occurring at the ninth grade level, as the researchers compared attendance and achievement rates. When students attend and participate in class regularly, it leads to more instructional time for each student.

In another study, data on attendance shows clearly that missing school matters. The analysis conducted by the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at Indiana University revealed that for the high school class of 2010, approximately 88 percent of students with good attendance – missing fewer than five days – throughout high school graduated, compared to the 24 percent graduation rate of students who missed 18 or more days on average per school year.

Another study followed sixth grade students through graduation and found that only 36.4 percent of Baltimore’s chronically absent students graduated from high school. While another study of Chicago Public Schools revealed that students who missed between 15 to 19 days of school in a year had a graduation rate of 21 percent, and only 9 percent of students who missed 20 to 24 school days graduated.

Clearly absenteeism is a huge obstacle to student achievement. 

While student achievement is our primary focus, so is the revenue necessary to provide quality instruction. Schools such as ours rely heavily on funding that is generated by daily student attendance. We staff our schools, purchase goods and services, and cook meals based on the number of students who are enrolled. We receive funding only for those that actually attend. If a student misses school, the school is still paying for these resources even though the student is absent. However, the school does not receive the funding due to the absence.

As a community, we all can play a role to ensure good daily attendance.

Dr. Michael Kuzniewski is the superintendent of School District 201

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