Avis Williams cropped 4

Avis Williams. 

BY AVIS WILLIAMS

Every fall for the past couple of years I have written about the importance of school attendance. Even as we reopen schools virtually, we still need to prioritize and push the need for daily attendance. Virtual attendance still counts.

Whether virtual or face-to-face, every day of school matters and there is mounting research to support the importance of students attending school regularly and on time. It is every parent or care giver’s responsibility to ensure that this is the case. Poor school attendance can have a long-term impact.

Nationwide, 8 million students miss enough days of school a year to endanger their success academically. Chronic absenteeism refers to students who miss 10% or more of the school year. For Selma City, that typically amounts to 18 days and it doesn’t matter whether the days are excused or unexcused. We are seriously concerned about our scholars well before 18 missed school days because we recognize that any amount of missed days means missed instruction. Missed instructions impedes progression towards grade-level readiness and overall success in reading and math.

September is National School Attendance Month. Each year, the Alabama State Department of Education recognizes the importance of school attendance during August and September. Team Selma joins this crusade with our annual attendance campaign, Don’t Count Me Out.

School attendance should be addressed as soon as it is recognized as a problem. A recent study found that students who missed fewer than 2 days in September typically missed no more than 2 days each month during the school year. These students missed an average of 10 days. In contrast, students who missed between 2 and 4 days in September were absent up to 25 days during the year or 2 to 3 days each month.

Why does it matter? There is a direct correlation between early absences and reading difficulties. One in 10 kindergarten and first grade students nationally miss close to a month of school. Some of our young scholars miss more than that. Students who are chronically absent in these early grades are far less likely to become proficient readers by the end of third grade. This includes our pre-k scholars as we strive for these babies to achieve school readiness before kindergarten.

The message is clear. We need our scholars to participate in school daily and on time. Within the next two weeks, all scholars should have a device and access to internet connectivity. Please log on daily and on time. School attendance may look different today but the importance is still the same. Over the next couple of weeks, I will share more research and information about how Team Selma is engaging families and the community around student attendance. This is more crucial than ever as we navigate the challenges of these unprecedented times. Scholars, we encourage you to not get counted out. Your attendance matters.

For more information, email me at avis.williams@selmacityschools.org

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