Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Attendance Matters at GCS

Submitted by Greenville City Schools

Many of our youngest students miss 10 percent of the school year – about 18 days a year or just two days every month. Chronic absenteeism in kindergarten can predict lower test scores in later grades, especially if the problem persists for more than a year. It is important for every student to attend school every day. Missing too much school has long-term, negative effects, such as lower achievement and lower graduation rates. Showing up for school on time, everyday helps students succeed. Research shows that children who miss 10% (18 days) or more of the school year are far more likely not to be good readers in 3rd grade. If children don’t show up for school regularly, they miss out on fundamental reading and math skills and the chance to build a habit of good attendance that will carry them into college and careers. The Ohio General Assembly passed House Bill 410 last December to encourage and support districts in a preventative approach to excessive absences and truancy. Districts must amend or adopt policies that outline their interventions and plans for students with excessive absences. The legislation emphasizes parent engagement and accountability as part of a student’s absence intervention plan.

In the past, attendance was counted by days absent. This new legislation counts attendance as the numbers of hours a student is absent or tardy. All absences, excused or unexcused, must be counted in hours. A child is deemed to be Excessively Absent if they miss a total of 38 or more excused or unexcused hours in a month, or a total of 65 or more excused or unexcused hours in a school year. Students will be considered Habitually Truant when they miss: 30 or more consecutive hours, 42 or more hours in a school month, or 72 or more hours in a school year without a legitimate excuse.

The new bill limits the number of excused and unexcused absences a student can have. A student will be considered absent if they are not in school during school hours. It is important to understand that leaving early, late arrivals, doctor visits will also count towards absence hours. Part of HB 410 requires schools to form a truancy intervention team that includes the parent to determine why students are missing school and to put interventions in place to improve attendance. After the truancy intervention plan is in place, the district is required to file a truancy complaint in court against the parent if the student’s attendance does not improve in 60 days.

Greenville City Schools will be closely monitoring students’ absences to determine who are at-risk for missing multiple hours of school. Greenville City Schools recently revised the number of excused vacation days from 10 to 5 days. The recently revised Handbook states, student tardiness and absences will be counted in hours and will accumulate throughout the school year. Even excused absences count towards these hours. Research studies have shown a strong connection between good school attendance and student achievement. We strive to provide an outstanding education to our students. We will be working closely with parents and the community to provide resources and interventions that allow for optimal attendance. We ask all parents and guardians to send your children to school on time and on a regular basis and to make every effort to get students in school. Together we can make great things happen!

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