This time of year, parents everywhere are making sure their children are ready for school. This isn't just a matter of having the right pencil box and notebooks. For our youngest children, it's critical that they arrive at kindergarten with the social and academic skills they need to succeed. And it's crucial that they learn the habit of good attendance early.
New research we commissioned in California highlights just how strong a connection there can be between school readiness and chronic absence. It suggests that a student must be prepared for kindergarten and attending school regularly in kindergarten and first grade to be a proficient reader by the end of third grade.
These issues, along with summer learning loss, are the core community solutions embraced by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a collaborative effort by dozens of foundations and nonprofits to ensure that third graders have mastered reading.
Next year's All-America City awards will go to the 10 cities that come up with the best plans for addressing these community solutions. The Campaign is providing technical assistance to cities that apply, and Attendance Works is helping with that. If you already have a strong attendance program in place, talk to your city leaders, United Way and civic groups about expanding the effort and applying for this prestigious award. As we wrote in our blog, we believe it offers a tremendous opportunity to increase attention to attendance and link it to other key factors affecting early literacy, as well as gain opportunities for peer learning and technical assistance.
- Hedy Chang
Chronic Absence Can Erode School Readiness Gains
Students who arrive at kindergarten with a strong set of skills can see those benefits erode if they miss too many days in kindergarten and first grade, leaving even the best prepared students unable to read well by the end of third grade, according to a study by Applied Survey Research and Attendance Works. At the same time, student who arrived unprepared academically are less likely to read proficiently, regardless of their attendance patterns.
On-time attendance is a habit best learned when schooling begins. So why not start in preschool? Learning and Leadership in Families has pioneered a program for preschoolers and elementary students that emphasizes punctuality as an antidote to chronic absenteeism.
Building Good Attendance Habits in Preschool and Head Start
Montgomery County, Md. has won national recognition for prekindergarten programs that have helped develop literacy skills for many low-income children. What’s not as well known is the extensive effort the school district makes to ensure that its youngest students attend school regularly.
Issue 5, August 2011