September is Attendance Awareness Month, the perfect time for school district leaders to promote the connection between good attendance and student achievement. Several national organizations – America’s Promise Alliance, Attendance Works, The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, Get Schooled, Healthy Schools Campaign, Points of Light and United Way Worldwide — have come together to create a Call to Action for superintendents who are committed to reducing chronic absenteeism.
We already have more than 100 superintendents signed up and hope to double that by the end of September, when we’re running an ad in Education Week featuring the names of every participant.
We are asking superintendents to do three things:
- Prioritize Attendance: Make clear that improved student attendance is one of the top priorities for you, your teachers and principal. Use Attendance Awareness Month in September to publicize your commitment in a proclamation and in your communications to staff, the board, families and the media.
- Mobilize the Community: Reach out to make improved student attendance a broadly owned and widely shared civic priority. Engage families through positive messaging and personalized outreach when absenteeism becomes a problem. Tap civic and elected leaders, health providers, business leaders housing authorities and others.
- Drive with Data: Use data to map the attendance gap, showing how many students are chronically absent and if they are concentrated in particular grades, schools and student populations.
By signing on to the Call to Action, these superintendents will join a growing national movement of school leaders looking beyond average daily attendance and truancy numbers to identify and address the challenges that keep students from getting to school every day.
The time is right to make a difference. Although many people – parents, public officials, business leaders, health providers, public agencies and community organizations – understand the critical connection between school attendance and achievement, few realize how quickly absences can add up to too much lost time in the classroom. Research suggests that most families want their children to succeed and recognize that regular attendance is important. But few realize missing as few as two days a month can throw a child off track. Working together with community partners, district leaders can help motivate students and families to avoid unnecessary absences as well as overcome challenging barriers to getting to school.
If you’re a superintendent, please join the Call To Action to guarantee that all students have a chance to learn and succeed by making sure every day counts, starting in kindergarten. If you’re a teacher, principal, community volunteer or parent, share this blog post with your superintendents and encourage them to join today.