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From the Desk of ACS Superintendent: Attendance is Essential for Future Preparation

Dear Editor:

“The Avery County Schools, through supportive relationships with students, parents and community, will have every student graduate from high school globally prepared for life in the 21st Century”, is the mission of our school system and the focus for all of our employees as we currently serve over 2,000 students every day! Impacting just one of these students in a positive way impacts the future of Avery County as well as our world.

Supt. Burleson
Supt. Burleson

Good attendance is essential to being prepared for the future. Consider that if your child misses 4 days per quarter beginning in first grade, he/she will have missed 123 days or ¾ of a school year by the middle school years. If this pattern of poor attendance continues, by their senior year, they will have missed an entire year of school! Here in Avery County we work diligently to provide an environment to foster learning as well as skills for life by offering the best teachers, best principals, best support staff, and best facilities possible. At the same time, we strive each day to improve our methods, our experiences, and our services in order to continually fulfill our pledge of a quality education to each child who walks through the doors of any of our schools.

As a parent and community member, what can you do to facilitate a successful school career for your student? Perhaps the most critical component to success in school is to emphasize the importance of regular school attendance. Research shows that students who attend school regularly are more likely to achieve success in education and in life. Regular attendance is paramount to student success and is an integral part of the educational process. Poor and irregular attendance causes a loss of continuity in the learning process. Socially, a student who does not attend regularly often has trouble making close friends and understanding the importance of being a part of the school.

While many think of chronic absenteeism as a high school problem, research suggests that the start of elementary school is the critical time to prevent truancy—particularly as the elementary program becomes more academic in nature. Missing school early, when students are learning the most basic skills, can negatively impact students in later grades and contribute to poor attendance throughout their academic and employment careers. In recent studies, chronic absenteeism in kindergarten predicted continuing absences in later grades. We know that regular attendance and participation in school are critical factors for success in education and life.

Students who have poor attendance habits are at risk of dropping out of school. High school drop-outs significantly limit their options for future success in careers. One study released by the Baltimore Educational Research Consortium showed that high school dropouts show steadily increasing chronic absenteeism for years before they actually leave school. Students who have poor attendance are at a greater risk of being unsuccessful academically and often drop out of school. A student who drops out of school significantly limits their options for career choices and employment. There is a high correlation between poor attendance and lack of success in school and into the future. Educational success and graduation from high school are crucial for expanding opportunities in today’s world. It is very important for all students to be present and on time to school. Developing good work habits at an early age will be beneficial when entering the job market and will expand opportunities for occupational success. Good attendance habits are a cornerstone of the educational foundation and often dictate the successes and failures of students. Today’s habits set the tone for tomorrow’s successes.

Here are some suggestions that may be helpful in promoting positive school attendance:

  • Make it a priority that your child attends school on designated school days and talk to them about the importance of attending school.
  • Obtain a copy of your school’s handbook for important information regarding attendance and absence policies supported by ACS.
  • When possible, avoid scheduling appointments and personal trips during the school day.
  • Make it clear to your child that you support the rules and consequences for skipping class and tardiness.
  • Take every opportunity to communicate with the school if your child needs to miss school due to sickness or other extenuating circumstances.
  • Discuss the importance of regular attendance with your child.
  • Avoid scheduling appointments and trips during school hours.
  • Make sure your child remains healthy by providing nutritious food and encouraging healthy exercise and sleep patterns.
  • Expect your child to only miss or be late for school when they are sick.
  • Support school rules and consequences for skipping class and being tardy.
  • Show your child why education is crucial.
  • Share examples of how an education can help your child be a more successful citizen.

The benefits of good attendance are life altering. Here are some examples:

  • Improves self-esteem
  • Gives time to build relationships with teachers
  • Serve as a role model to peers and siblings
  • Allows for greater learning about subject matter
  • Increases test preparation
  • Leads to better grades
  • Increases opportunity for promotion to next grade
  • Increases opportunity to graduate
  • Better prepares you to enter the job market
  • Better prepares you to enter college
  • The consequences of poor attendance are equally life altering. Here are a few negative consequences of poor attendance:
  • Important instructional time is missed
  • Drivers’ License may be lost
  • Lower grades, incompletes, or failures may result
  • Possible retention because of attendance and/or poor grades
  • Exclusion from school activities
  • May not graduate on time
  • May be referred to the school counselor or mediator
  • Decreases future earning potential
  • Increases likelihood of unemployment or
  • Increases likelihood of court involvement

Learning is developed day by day. Absences prevent students from keeping up and building necessary skills which increases a student’s frustration with learning.

As a community, let’s work together to provide our students every opportunity possible to be successful, starting with being at school every day possible.