Attendance Awareness Month
September marks inaugural Attendance Awareness Month in Kern County; Community partners rally around the cause
During her freshmen year at East High School, Atziri Flores was on track to be among the estimated 7.5 million students across the nation who misses nearly a month of school every year. These absences can correlate with poor performance at every grade level and ultimately lead to increased dropout rates, experts say.
Atziri wasn’t going to school every day, and as a result, she failed every course her first semester. Thanks to intervention from her school district — and her parents — Atziri quickly turned things around. Her 0.00 GPA rebounded to a very respectable 3.40 when her attendance improved.
“We know that we will never narrow the achievement gap or reduce our dropout rate until we proactively address school attendance, and that means starting early,” said Kern County Superintendent of Schools Christine Lizardi Frazier. “All our efforts to improve curriculum and instruction won’t matter much if kids aren’t in school.”
For this reason, agencies across Kern County have embarked on its first-ever concerted effort to raise awareness about chronic absenteeism and the value of regular school attendance. Dr. Frazier teamed up with Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green, BPD Chief, Greg Williamson and Bakersfield Chamber CEO Cindy Pollard for a news conference at Franklin Elementary School on Sept. 2 to officially kick off the inaugural Attendance Awareness Month in Kern County.
Problems with absenteeism start surprisingly early. National research shows that one in 10 kindergarten and first-grade students are chronically absent, meaning that they miss 10 percent of the school year, or about 18 days of instruction. That’s just 2 to 3 days per month of excused or unexcused absences. Children from low-income families are at even greater risk of missing school days.
Research shows that students who are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are less likely to read proficiently after third grade. Students who don’t read well by that critical juncture are more likely to struggle in school in later years. By middle school, chronic absence is the leading indicator that a student will drop out of high school.
“Chronic absenteeism isn’t just a family or school problem,” Frazier said. “It is a problem that impacts every citizen in our community. We can turn the tide on chronic absenteeism by making it a priority and with all segments of our community doing their part.”
For more information about chronic absenteeism and to find tips and downloadable resources, visit www.kernstayinschool.org.
Did you know?
· Missing just 2-3 days every month can translate into third graders unable to read on grade level.
· Being chronically late to school often leads to poor attendance.
· Absences can affect other students if a teacher has to slow down learning to help children catch up.
· Attending school regularly helps children feel better about school — and themselves.
· Good attendance in the early grades will help children do well in high school, college and at work.
· By junior high and high school, chronic absence is the leading warning sign that a student will drop out of school.
· High school dropouts are 2.5 times more likely to be on welfare than high school graduates.