Promoting school attendance

September is Attendance Awareness Month, a national event designed to bring attention to the connection between school attendance and academic achievement. Studies have shown the importance of building good attendance habits in the early grades and continuing through middle and high school.

As we work on increasing student achievement, we also need to recognize the importance of student attendance and engagement. Chronic absenteeism defined as missing 18 or more days of school, impacts student achievement and can undermine success for too many students. The problem can start as early as kindergarten and first grade impeding a student’s progress in reading and math. Chronic absence can continue in middle and high school when it becomes an early warning sign that students will drop out before earning a high school diploma.

This is an opportunity for schools, community organizations and businesses to build family and community awareness about the importance of school attendance and the connection to student success. Schools can use attendance data to identify student populations who are most affected by chronic absence and could benefit from positive personal engagement and extra support. Research has shown that students who miss two to four days in the first month of school are more likely to be chronically absent during the school year. By paying attention to absences early in the school year, we can turn around attendance and achievement. We want all students to benefit from the many innovative programs happening in schools.

Count ME In is a partnership of Maine schools, businesses, parents, youth, state and community organizations working to improve student attendance, engagement and academic achievement through data-driven strategies so all children can learn and succeed. The Count ME In website www.countmeinmaine.org provides additional free resources including access to posters created by Maine students to promote school attendance.