Learning the Importance of School Attendance Must Start at an Early Age

Local News

Four weeks into the new school year and students are settling into their new routines, and one local school system leader says being in school every day is directly correlated with positive student outcomes.

“Its incredibly important at the beginning of the year for teachers to have that chance to develop relationships with the students,” Said Elmira City Schools Superintendent Hillary Austin.

“So from the very beginning if attendance is not strong students are really at a disadvantage.”

Even this early into the school year, as teachers and administrators get to know their students, they’re also looking for patterns in attendance — or lack thereof.

Schools recognize sickness, transportation issues, and outside factors often play a role in missing days.

“In our community we’re seeing an attendance condition where about 24 percent of children K-3 in our school systems are chronically absent,” said President and CEO of United Way of the Southern Tier, Steve Hughes.

A student is chronically absent if they miss 10 percent, or more than 18 days, of school each year.

“The brain development science and research proves to us how important it is that we reach children earlier in life and in those universal pre-k environments, kindergarten, first, second, and third grade… having children in school everyday is important for their success in school and in life,” said Hughes.

Whether it be in early childhood education or all the way up to seniors in high school, Austin says its important to look at each student’s attendance patterns individually.

“There can be situations where a student can be quite sick and misses a lengthy period of time, but then normally is in school all the time,” said Austin.

“Then there’s students that miss a day every week and I think for us its looking at those patterns.”

If a child is falling into a pattern of absenteeism, the schools and organizations like United Way say they want to partner with students and parents to find solutions that will help them make it to school every day.

“I think the goal from the beginning is instead of being punitive its more about creating a plan for success and engaging with the family to say, ‘Attendance is really important, and this is why, and how can we help you in terms of having good attendance for your child,'” said Austin.

If you have concerns about your child’s attendance at school, Austin says you should speak with their teacher and principal to create a plan to help the student be in class every day, engaged and ready to learn.

United Way of the Southern Tier also encourages people to use the 2-1-1 helpline to get connected to health and human services in your local communities.

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