Attendance Awareness Month: Helping Parents Understand How To Boost Their Kids’ School Success
Missing school early on creates academic problems later. Kids who miss more than 18 days of their kindergarten year often end up with lower test scores later on. Only 17 percent of kids who miss 10% or more of kindergarten and 1st grade end up reading on grade level after 3rd grade, research shows.
Chronic absenteeism is a big problem. Nationally, 5 to 7.5 million students are chronically absent each year. That makes it hard to catch up, making it too easy to check out, and eventually drop out. By 9th grade, missing 20% of the school year is a better predictor of dropping out than test scores, experts say.
But most parents don’t know this. United Ways focused on improving education must fold this critical issue into parent engagement and awareness efforts, especially for low-wage families of color. And now is the right time to do that, as school starts back.
That’s why United Ways across the U.S. are coming together to support Attendance Awareness Month in September. In partnership with Attendance Works, we’re asking parents, schools, city agencies, community nonprofits, businesses and others to deliver the message that attendance matters for success in school and in life, and that absences can easily add up to academic challenges.
Check out the tips, tools and resources to support Attendance Awareness Month in the Attendance Works toolkit, Count Us In! Working Together to Show That Every School Day Matters. United Way Worldwide has created a template op-ed, blog, talking points and social media content that you can adapt to showcase your support for this issue – and to highlight your existing education work. Here are some ideas for action:
Get The Word out: Back-to-school time is a great opportunity to deliver a public service message about the importance of kids attending school every day. Work with media partners to get the word out across all channels.
Engage Families: Fold the message into existing parent outreach activities, and ask funded agencies to do the same. Partner with schools to educate families and build a culture of attendance through early outreach and incentives.
Help Your School Partners Track the Right Data: Schools track attendance and unexcused absences, but may not track how many kids miss too many days for any reason. Understand your attendance issues by collaborating with schools to use Attendance Works’ free data-tracking tools.