In education, every day truly counts

Published 11:27 am Thursday, February 15, 2018

Did you know that students can still fall behind in school even if they miss just a day or two every few weeks?

By sixth grade, absenteeism is one of the signs that a student may, in the future, drop out of high school. Believe it or not, by ninth grade, regular attendance is a better predictor of graduation than eighth-grade test scores.

Research has linked good attendance starting in kindergarten all the way through high school to higher achievement, lower rates of delinquent behavior and increased participation in higher education.

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We work hard to make our schools inviting and engaging places where students can build relationships and learn. We have made a concerted effort to improve attendance with approaches that include instructional strategies to engage students, implementing support systems to address barriers, offering incentives to encourage good attendance and applying consequences when attendance expectations are not met.

From supporting students with medical conditions through a Health Advisory Committee, to the Truancy Diversion Program in place to help truant middle schoolers and freshmen return to the classroom, to counseling services to address students’ needs, our goal is to provide the support necessary for students to be in school where they can best learn and grow to their full potential.

In the 2016-2017 school year, the district attendance rate was 94.39 percent, marking the highest percentage since way back in the 1993-1994 school year 24 years ago!

There is even more good news to share—as of the fifth month of this school year, our average attendance rate is higher than last year’s overall rate and is trending upward. If this continues, 2017-2018 could mark a 25-year high point for Jessamine County Schools attendance!

We value our partnerships with parents and students and appreciate their efforts to make school attendance a priority. Setting high expectations for our students’ attendance is one of the most powerful ways that we can help to ensure their success.

I know that it isn’t always easy for students to get to school, but when our community also shares these high expectations and reinforces the message about the importance of attendance we all win as students develop a strong work ethic and are better prepared to meet future obligations.

You might think that absences don’t impact younger students as much as middle and high schoolers, but the fact is that attendance patterns are formed early. Children who develop good habits in the primary grades will be more likely to attend regularly throughout their education.

Last year, our district’s graduation rate of 94.1 percent was the highest rate recorded in Jessamine County. This gain is attributed to efforts from preschool through high school to prepare students for a rigorous curriculum and to support them as they transition to the next level of schoolwork. The continuum of learning is disrupted when students miss out on lessons at any stage of their education.

Our district-wide, month-long grade level attendance competition, “March to Greatness,” will begin soon and we are excited about the opportunity to post record attendance numbers in our district.

Thank you to everyone in our community for supporting our efforts to ensure that students take advantage of each and every school day to learn, grow and become life ready.

Matt Moore is the Superintendent of Jessamine County Schools.