Why is school attendance so important?

sleeping teenSometimes students and parents might question why school attendance is so important. Parents might think my child is only in kindergarten if they miss a day or a week that won’t hurt them. Or a parent of a junior high or high school student might think it’s not worth fighting with my child to get out of bed and make them go to school.

School Attendance= Student Success
Research is increasingly showing that attendance at all ages is incredibly important and is directly correlated to student success and graduation rates. According to a study conducted by Hedy Chang and Mariajose Romero they found that when students are chronically absent during kindergarten (both excused and unexcused absences) that these students perform lower academically in first grade. This is true “regardless of gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic status.”

The relationship is especially strong for Latino children who had much lower first grade reading scores if they were chronically absent in kindergarten” (Chang, Romero 2008). The study also showed that children living in poverty suffer more academically when they miss school during the early years. These students showed the lowest levels of educational milestones by the end of 5th grade.

Educating Families about School Attendance
These findings are troublesome and indicate that there is a need to educate families and school districts about the importance of school attendance early on in a child’s education. The National Center for Children in Poverty has made some suggestions about ways to educate parents about the importance of school attendance. Their suggestions are:

  • Engage families of all background in their children’s education
  • Offer a high quality education responsive to diverse learning needs
  • Ensure access to preventative health care, especially as children enter school
  • Prepare children for school through quality early care and education experience
  • Offer incentives for attendance to all children
  • Encourage families to help each other attend school
  • Educate parents about the importance of attendance
  • Early outreach to families with poor attendance, and as appropriate case management to address social, medical, and academic needs.

Cash Incentives to Go to School

why school attendance importantIn an effort to impress upon parents the importance of school attendance a school in St. Louis is trying a unique incentive program. At Jefferson Elementary school they are offering parents cash to enroll their children at the school. In order to qualify for the cash incentive the students must finish the semester with nearly perfect attendance and they must not receive any out of school suspensions. Parents must attend meetings at school. If parents and students do these things they can receive up to $300 per student.

Programs like this are being adopted across the county as school districts look for ways to encourage parents and students to get involved in schools and to emphasize the importance of school attendance.

 It’s unclear at this point if programs like this are making a big difference. A Harvard University study showed that these incentives improve classroom behavior but they don’t seem to raise test scores. For now, Jefferson Elementary school is going to continue offering these cash incentives. William Tate, a professor at Washington University had this to say about the incentives: “What they’re really saying to these kids is your presence on a regular basis is important. It’s so important we’re going to reward you for doing it.”

What do you think, should students and families be paid to send their children to school?

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4 Responses to Why is school attendance so important?

  1. lacie says:

    i think it is sad that other countries children are slaving away to try to help feed thier families and parents in this country we are so blessed to live in dont think it is important to make thier children attend FREE classes in our GREAT COUNTRY!!!

  2. Tammy Champo says:

    Thank you for your comment Lacie! We really do have a lot of freedoms that are taken for granted; it is sad more people don’t seem to agree and/or at least take advantage of what is given to them.

  3. Eugene says:

    I got poor attendance recent days, so i am very sad , basically , I know how to figure it out, but, I just cannot get up , how to improve my attendance? Help me out!Anyway, I cannot hold Student Visa anymore, no…..no……no!

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