Student absence leads to academic failure

Missed school days are detrimental to students.

Youth need to attend school to build the foundation for success.
Youth need to attend school to build the foundation for success.

The most important factor for a child’s school success is daily attendance. It may not seem that missing two or three days of school every month is problematic, but it can be detrimental. It makes no difference if the absences are excused, unexcused or suspensions. Students who are chronically absent do not develop the basic academic skills needed to learn more complex subjects in later grades. According to Attendance Works, the students most likely to miss school are primarily low-income, English language learners or disabled.

Chronic absence contributes to:

  • Third-graders unable to master reading
  • Sixth-graders failing courses
  • Ninth-graders dropping out of high school
  • Delayed socio-emotional skills in kindergartners
  • Low scores on standardized achievement tests
  • Millions of dollars in missed funding for some school districts

Solving chronic absenteeism requires involvement of community partners, parents, teachers and government. However, parents are instrumental in establishing a child’s strong attendance at school. Attendance Works has several suggestions for parents to reduce absenteeism:

  • Establish and stick to basic routines to help your child develop the habit of on-time attendance.
  • Talk to the child about why going to school every day is important (unless they are sick).
  • Find out why your child is reluctant to attend school. Work with teachers, administration and other school staff to get the child excited about school. 
  • Prepare back up plans to get your child to school if your daily routine is interrupted and you are unable to get them there. 
  • Ask for help if you are experiencing situations that make it difficult to get to school. Many schools have access to resources to help struggling parents. 
  • Work with the teacher to ensure an absent child can learn or make-up any missed school academics.

The bottom line is that a child must be present in school to learn. Our communities must make this a priority to ensure our children have a greater chance at academic success and future achievements.   

To learn about the positive impact children and families experience due to Michigan State University Extension programs, read our 2016 Impact Reports titled Preparing young children to success and Preparing the future generation for success. Additional Impact Reports highlighting even more ways Michigan 4-H and MSU Extension positively influence individuals and communities in 2016 can be downloaded from the Michigan 4-H website.

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