Mayor, Chairman sign Attendance Awareness Month proclamation

T. Michael Stone/Staff

Madison Mayor Fred Perriman and Morgan County Commission Chairman Donald Harris joined Morgan County Superintendent Dr. James Woodard at City Hall last week to sign a proclamation declaring September as Attendance Awareness Month.

The proclamation read in part: WHEREAS, good attendance is essential to student achievement and graduation, and we are committed to dedicating our resources and attention to reducing chronic absenteeism rates, with a focus starting as early as prekindergarten and kindergarten,

WHEREAS, chronic absence — missing 10 percent or more of school for any reason including excused and unexcused absences, or just two of three days a month — is a proven predictor of academic trouble and dropout rates,

WHEREAS, chronic absence is now a required reporting metric under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act,

WHEREAS, improving attendance and reducing chronic absence takes commitment, collaboration and tailored approaches to particular challenges and strengths in each community,

WHEREAS, chronic absence predicts lower third-grade reading proficiency, course failure and eventual dropout, it weakens our communities and our local economy,

WHEREAS, the impact of chronic absence hits low-income students and children of color particularly hard if they don't have the resources to make up for lost time in the classroom and are more likely to face systemic barriers to getting to school — such as unreliable transportation, lack of access to health care, unstable or unaffordable housing,

WHEREAS, attendance gaps among groups of students often turn into achievement gaps that undermine student success. Chronic absence particularly exacerbates the achievement gap that separates low-income students from their peers, since students from low-income families are both more likely to be chronically absent and more likely to be affected academically by missing school.

WHEREAS, absenteeism also undermines efforts to improve struggling schools, since it's hard to measure improvement in classroom instruction if students are not in class to benefit from them, WHEREAS, schools and community partners can reach out more frequently to absent students to determine what barriers they face to attending school and what would help them attend more regularly, WHEREAS, health care providers can share the importance of school attendance with families and can offer proactive, preventive care to reduce absences.

WHEREAS, schools and districts must do more to track, calculate and share the data on how many students are chronically absent so that we can see the attendance gaps and can deliver the right interventions to the right students,

WHEREAS, all students — even those who show up regularly — are affected by chronic absence because teachers must spend time reviewing for students who missed lessons.  

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