girls raising hands

Why does attendance matter?

Ensuring regular school attendance is one of the most powerful ways to prepare students for success—both in school and in life. When school attendance is a priority, children get better grades, develop healthy life habits, avoid dangerous behavior and have a better chance of graduating from high school.

Students who attend school regularly also feel more connected to their community, develop important social skills and friendships, and are significantly more likely to graduate from high school, setting them up for a strong future.

When kids are absent for an average of just two days of school per month—even when the absences are excused– it can have a negative impact. These absences affect kids at all grades, even Kindergarten.

For example, young elementary school students who miss an average of just two school days per month often have difficulty keeping up with their peers academically and tend to fall behind in reading. But when students are able to read on grade level by the end of third grade, which is when kids transition from learning to read to reading to learn, they are three to four times more likely to graduate high school and attend college, post-graduate, or professional development classes than their peers who struggle with reading. Parent can prepare children for a lifetime of success by making regular school attendance a priority.

What is Chronic Absenteeism?

Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing ten percent or more of the academic year for any reason, including excused and unexcused absences, suspensions and time missed due to changing schools. Based on a 180-day school year, that means a student is chronically absent if he/she misses 18 days in a school year.

What Happens When a Student Has Excessive Absences?

In addition to missing out on important educational and social experiences for students, parents whose children frequently miss school can be referred to the School Attendance Review Board (SARB).

The referral process begins when a letter is sent to the parent/guardian from the School Attendance Review Board requesting their attendance to a mandatory hearing with the School Attendance Review Board members. The School Attendance Review Board members’ goal is to identify a solution or appropriate resources for resolving the student’s attendance problem. An administrator from the student’s school will present the information to the School Attendance Review Board. Parents/ guardians will have an opportunity to address the School Attendance Review Board. The School Attendance Review Board will ask the parent and the student to sign an attendance contract once the terms have been identified.

Excused Absences

Education 48205 identifies absences for the following reasons as being excused:

  1. Student illness - school may require a doctor’s note verifying absences for more than 3 consecutive days.

  2. Quarantine under the direction of a doctor. A doctor’s note must be provided.

  3. Student medical, dental, optometric or chiropractic appointment. (Requires a doctor’s note).

  4. Funeral services of parent, sibling, grandparent, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, or any relative living in the immediate household of the child.

  5. Student court appearance (Requires verification).

  6. Employment in the Entertainment Industry.

  7. Observance of a religious holiday or ceremony. (A three-day advance notice should be given to school).

  8. Short term independent study approved in advance by principal.

Unexcused Absences

Reasons not acceptable for being absent from school and are considered truancies or unexcused absences during the regular school year are listed below. 

A truancy occurs if a student is absent from school for the following reasons:

  • Going to work with a parent or other family member.

  • Visiting family.

  • Going on vacation. (Contact the front office for Independent Study information.)

  • Baby-sitting, taking care of other family members.

  • Under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

  • “Personal” reasons.

  • Waiting for service or repair people to arrive.

  • Shopping.

  • Attending a sporting event.

  • Bus not available/missing bus.

  • Any other reason not included in the excused absences section.

Tips for Parents/Guardians

tips for parents
  • Ensure your child arrives at school on time, every day, and ensure homework assignments are complete.

  • Being in school every day raises your child’s chances for scoring well on important tests throughout the year.

  • Allow your child to stay home only when he/she has a contagious illness or is too sick to be comfortable.

  • Make sure your child exercises, eats a balanced diet, and gets plenty of sleep. This will help him/her to be mentally and physically ready to learn and strengthen the immune system.

  • Read all information sent home by the school. Post important dates on a family bulletin board or on the refrigerator.

  • Give your child enough time to get ready for school in the morning. Try preparing lunches, packing school bags and laying out clothing the night before.

  • Plan family vacation during non-school days.

  • Try to schedule appointments for your child after school hours.

  • Help prevent child illnesses from spreading at school by getting your child vaccinated against flu.