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Majority of American Parents Unaware of How Harmful Monthly School Absences Can Be

Majority of American Parents Unaware of How Harmful Monthly School Absences Can Be

September is the first full month of school for most schools, and for that reason it’s also Attendance Awareness Month; throughout the month, advocates work to remind parents and mentors how important student attendance is for their respective achievement.

While most parents understand how important attendance is, a new survey from the Ad Council has revealed they misunderstand how quickly absences add up.

"New research released today by the Ad Council found that an overwhelming majority (86%) of parents understand their child’s school attendance plays a big role in helping them graduate from high school. However, nearly half (49%) of parents believe that it is okay for their children to miss three or more days of school per month – and that they won’t fall behind academically if they do. In reality, missing just two days of school per month makes children more likely to fall behind and less likely to graduate,” said the U.S. Department of Education in a recent post.

A student who misses just two or more days of school a month is considered to be chronically absent, a phenomenon that is directly linked to poor academic performance.

As more and more research supports the importance of regular class attendance, it has become a national focus to reduce chronic absenteeism year after year.

"Children who are chronically absent in preschool, kindergarten and first grade are less likely to read on grade level by the third grade. Students who cannot read at grade level by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school,” the U.S. Department of Education said.

In order to do its part to encourage parents to reduce their child’s absences, the Department of Education has partnered with the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the Ad Council to create the Absences Add Up campaign.

"The campaign features a series of digital and out of home PSAs that drive parents to On the website, parents are empowered with information and resources to help ensure their children attend school each day,” the post says.

Suggested resources for encouraging student attendance include partnering kids with mentors and recommending participation in after school and summer programs,

For children who are struggling with bullying, mental health problems, and home difficulties, the campaign offers specific resources to help them cope while finding comfort at school.

The campaign does not make mention, yet, of another tactic that is gaining traction in schools where students are chronically absent: the installation of laundry machines. For students in low-income areas, the embarrassment of coming to school with dirty clothing keeps them from coming in. Schools that have invested in laundry machines have noticed a significant improvement in students who were once chronically absent, suggesting that this tactic should be something that schools with high rates of absences could look into.

Read the Department of Education’s full post here.


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