Why School Attendance Matters

Every day matters. And every day kids are in school is a day he or she can learn something new and grow as a reader.

Studies show that students are more likely to succeed when they have good school attendance. The opposite, unfortunately, is also true. Students who don’t show up to school are less likely to be reading on grade level in the 3rd grade. At Jump In, Nashville, our goal is to double the number of third graders reading on grade level by 2025, so hopefully you can see why we would encourage good attendance!

But we get it. Life happens. Kids get sick. Kids miss the bus. Kids need to go to the doctor. We’re not talking about an absence here and an absence there. That’s totally expected. Instead, we’re talking about something called “chronic absenteeism,” which is missing more than 18 days in a school year.

That may sound like a lot, but it’s actually just two days a month. This includes both if the absence is excused or unexcused. Either way, the student is still not in the classroom benefiting from all of the awesome learning, language-building and socializing that takes place in school.

The average chronic absence rate for Nashville’s public schools last year was 18%. That means in a school of 100 kids, 18 of them missed 18 or more days of school. And for about half of our schools, the number of kids who were chronically absent was actually much higher.

 So, what keeps kids out of school? Lots of things!

Most students miss at least a few days a year due to sickness, whether something contagious like the flu or more ongoing like asthma or diabetes. Sometimes it’s because of planning things during school time, like doctor’s appointments and vacations.

Missing the bus and not having alternative transportation can be a big problems for some families. School culture and climate are, too. Maybe the student is scared to go to school because of whom he might have to face. Or maybe a student is forced to miss school because of a suspension.

Not all of these barriers are avoidable and some of them are not easily solved. But it all starts with awareness. Be aware of your student’s attendance to date (you can check it at the top of all MNPS report cards). Be aware of the particular challenges that your family might face in getting to school on time. And be aware of all the great school and community resources that can help your child get to school on time and ready to learn every day!

The goal is to Strive for Less Than 5! That stands for five or fewer absences each school year for any reason. It’s a goal worth reaching for because it can put your student on the track to success.


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