Showing Up Together: Attendance Awareness Month

Published 8:12 am Friday, September 29, 2023

Each year in September, Attendance Awareness Month places a focus on spreading awareness about the detrimental effects of chronic absenteeism in students and the role maintaining attendance plays in academic success.

Crenshaw County Superintendent Dodd Hawthorne said that Crenshaw County Schools are putting forth a dedicated effort to raise attendance this year due to a fall in attendance during the 2022-2023 school year. 

“Twenty percent of our students last year were considered chronically absent, so we have certainly put in an effort to try and reduce this,” Hawthorne said. “It not only affects our report card, but students cannot learn if they aren’t in school. One thing that we’ve done is hire a parent liaison, Beverly Sport, to hopefully develop stronger communication with parents as well as trust and relationships. We are continuing to stress the importance of attendance and we are hoping to see an increase in attendance numbers this year.”

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Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing at least 10% of school days for any reason, whether the missed days are a result of excused or unexcused absences or suspensions.

The results of chronic absence can prove harmful to students who miss class and also to their classmates as teachers work to meet each student’s individual learning needs during their instructional time.

According to Attendance Works, an organization which works to promote equal learning opportunities for students of all backgrounds and circumstances by reducing chronic absence, at least 10.1 million students nationwide were chronically absent from school in the 2020-2021 school year. 

This year, Attendance Works is broadcasting its 10th annual Attendance Awareness Campaign with the theme “Showing Up Together” to share the message that every day a student is in school is an opportunity to learn, build relationships and access support.

Butler County Schools Superintendent Joseph Eiland stressed the importance of regular attendance and discussed a downward trend in attendance schools have experienced and which faculty are actively working to rectify.

“While some call me old-fashioned and out of touch, this I know: if you are not present for school, you miss an opportunity to learn lessons that will enrich your life and help you to prosper,” Eiland said. “Butler County Schools collectively scored very poorly in the state-wide attendance data [last year]. We have developed and implemented scientifically based practices to address and reverse the downward trajectory in our attendance data, and reports are showing improvements.”

Lowndes County Public Schools are also showing improvements in student attendance in comparison to the previous school year according to Superintendent Samita Jeter.

“Attendance is up from last year and district leaders are working to locate children who have not shown up for class,” Jeter said. “Each school has implemented strategies to encourage children to come to school regularly and we are showing an improvement in daily student attendance.”

Jeter encouraged families to stay in communication with their respective schools and teachers, and to continue working alongside district faculty to make sure children are present at school every day so that they have the opportunity to learn and flourish.