“Every day matters” and “attendance works” have become mantras for school attendance officers throughout the country. Chronic absenteeism, or missing more than 10% of school, has been linked to reading difficulties, poor academic progress, and an increase in dropout rates. It doesn’t make sense. If education is the key to a brighter future for our youngest citizens, why aren’t they showing up when it is offered freely to them?
Clarke County school attendance officer Santana Mayers explains, “I cannot tell you why some parents do not make going to school a priority, but I can say that I am working closely with the schools, the kids’ parents, and the courts to make sure everyone understands why getting educated is so important for these children.”
Of course, the majority of Quitman School District parents do make their child’s education a priority.
At Quitman Lower Elementary the average daily attendance since the start of school is 94.3%. Four QLE students have not missed even one day of school. This, of course, is in stark contrast to the 72 students who have missed more than 10% of the year.
At Quitman Upper Elementary there are eight students who haven’t missed a day, while 46 students have missed 873 days combined. Although teachers are very willing to help students catch up on missed work, imagine the advantage a child has if he/she is there for the instruction.
Sixteen students at Quitman Junior High have perfect attendance, and the school’s average daily attendance stays above 90%. Yet 51 students have missed more than 10% of the school year.
“When students improve their attendance rates, they improve their academic prospects and chances for graduating.” Source
At Quitman High School there are 29 students who have perfect attendance, and so many more have missed only a couple of days of school. In contrast, 78 QHS students have missed more than 10% of school this year.
Out of the 1,925 students enrolled in Quitman School District 247 have missed so many school days that they are now at risk of having problems with reading, failing classes, and dropping out of school. Even if they make it to graduation, who do you think companies are more likely to hire? Which students do you believe have a better chance of being successful in college? That answer is just about as easy as showing up to school.
Many thanks to Darcie Avera, Leah Duvall, Cathy Slay, Shannon Driver, and Kathy Evans for their help with this article. Like so many other things in this school district, we could not have done it without them.