An increasing number of superintendents across NC are concentrating on reducing chronic absence and spotlighting the issue during September, National Attendance Awareness Month. More than 60 superintendents have signed a proclamation committing “to focusing on reducing chronic absenteeism to give all children an equitable opportunity to learn, grow and thrive academically, emotional and socially.”
Recent local news in Thomasville City Schools and Clinton City Schools featured stories about those efforts. In Pitt County, the school system is partnering with Read ENC, a local NC Campaign for Grade-Level Reading coalition, to help students reach the goal of five or fewer absences each school year. Outreach to families will also be part of the initiative with a message of “Attend today – Achieve tomorrow.”
Chronic absence is defined in North Carolina as missing 10 percent of school days within one academic year for any reason (excused or unexcused). Consistent school attendance in the early grades increases academic learning, achievement and motivation. Chronic absence in the early years – pre-K through grade three – is associated with lower academic achievement as well as school dropout, delinquency, and substance abuse.
The NC Early Childhood Foundation is focusing on attendance by providing those working at the state and local levels with the information and tools needed to address policy and practices around chronic absence. Check out our 2019 AttendaNCe Counts Community Toolkit and our new report AttendaNCe Counts: How Schools and Local Communities are Reducing Chronic Absence in North Carolina.
We would like to give a “shout out” to Dr. Patrick Miller, Superintendent of Greene County Schools, who has worked with NCECF to encourage superintendents across NC to address chronic absence. Miller was the 2018 Greene County Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year, and this year, the NC School Superintendents Association named him the A. Craig Phillips Superintendent of the Year.