COCKE COUNTY—Good attendance is essential to student achievement and graduation, and the Cocke County School System and Mayor Crystal Ottinger are committed to dedicating resources and attention to reducing chronic absenteeism rates.
Ottinger recently signed a proclamation recognizing September as Attendance Awareness Month.
Chronic absence is occurs when a student misses 10 percent or more of school for any reason including excused and unexcused absences, or just two or three days a month.
All parties involved recognize that improving attendance and reducing chronic absence takes commitment, collaboration and tailored approaches to particular challenges and strengths in each community.
Chronic absenteeism contributes to lower reading proficiency, course failure and eventual dropout, it weakens the community and local economy.
The impact of chronic absence hits low-income students 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.
Attendance gaps among groups of students often turn into achievement gaps that undermine student success.
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 daily lessons.
Schools and community partners can reach out more frequently to absent students to determine why they are missing school and what would help them attend more regularly.
Schools and districts must do more to track, calculate and share the data on how many students are chronically absent so that we can deliver the right interventions to the right students.
Chronic absence can be significantly reduced when schools, parents and communities work together to monitor and promote good attendance and address hurdles that keep children from getting to school.