Commissioner’s Update – September 25, 2014

From Maine Education Commissioner Jim Rier

It’s been said that the first step to success is showing up and nowhere is that more true than in our schools.

Chronic absenteeism – defined as missing 10 percent of the school year (18 days here in Maine) – increases achievement gaps and decreases student outcomes. Absences add up quickly. In fact, students who are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are much less likely to read proficiently by the end of third grade and are more likely to have poor attendance in later grades. By middle and high school, chronic absence is a proven early warning sign that a student will not graduate on time or even at all. Chronic absenteeism especially hurts children with disabilities or from low income families who are both more likely to miss school and who often lack the resources to make up for lost time in the classroom.

This September marks the second annual Attendance Awareness Month. This nationwide event brings attention to the connection between school attendance and academic achievement while mobilizing schools and communities to promote the value of good attendance and take concrete steps toward reducing chronic absence.

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