Dayton Public Schools Media Archive

Published in Dayton Daily News Oct. 31, 2015 - Link to article HERE

Attendance matters in Dayton Public Schools

Daily attendance plays big role in student success

Dayton Public Schools has a message for students this year: Miss School, Miss Out: Attendance Matters. While attendance has always been a priority in our schools, we are making a collective and concentrated effort to raise awareness about the role good attendance plays in student success. We kicked off our yearlong campaign in September (Attendance Awareness Month), joining Learn to Earn and other area schools to improve student attendance and prevent chronic absenteeism.

Poor attendance is a surprisingly prevalent but often overlooked factor in why students and schools are struggling academically. District data show that three in 10 kindergarten students and nearly the same number of first-grade students miss about one month of school every year in excused and unexcused absences.

Our efforts to narrow the achievement gap or increase our graduation rate will be stalled unless we address the issue of attendance.  In fact, all our efforts to improve curriculum and instruction won’t matter much if students aren’t in school.

District data indicate that 26.7 percent, or 3,543 DPS students were chronically absent in the 2013-14 school year. Chronic absence is described as missing 10 percent of the school year—or about 18 days—for any reason, excused, unexcused or suspensions. That’s the point at which absenteeism begins to affect student performance, research shows. Yet, too often, chronic absence remains a hidden problem because schools track only average daily attendance and truancy (unexcused absences).

National research shows that children who are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are less likely to master reading by the end of third grade, a critical milestone for later success. This is particularly true for low-income children who need school the most but often get the least. DPS students in grades three and six who missed 12 or more days of school for any reason were more likely to score below proficient in reading on the 2014 Ohio Achievement Assessment.

Barriers that may contribute to chronic absenteeism can be academic, social/emotional, health-related, or economic. Health concerns, particularly asthma, are among the leading reasons our students miss school. By forming partnerships and collaborating with area medical professionals, we can work together to decrease health-related absenteeism, most notably due to asthma.

Our district is taking the following action to improve attendance in 2015-2016:

We will continue to provide information for parents about the negative effects of student absence. Families of students who miss two or more days of school in a month receive a phone message from me letting them know that students who miss two or more days a month are at risk of becoming chronically absent. We want to engage families in the education and development of their children and partner with them to create and maintain the habit of good attendance that begins early and at home.

We will recognize and reward good and improved attendance. But we know that awareness and rewards will not work without support for our students and their families.

We will provide multiple levels of support for students and their families, from prevention and early warning to targeted support and intervention to address root causes of absenteeism.

Working together with our families and community partners, we can improve attendance and prevent chronic absenteeism, helping students gain a foothold in their climb to academic success.