Student attendance is an important predictor of success in the classroom. Only through attendance and class participation do students achieve the benefits of our education program within the Ames Community School District. Learning lost due to an absence can have a profound effect throughout the school year, and we are placing a greater emphasis on communicating absences with parents this school year.
Our previous attendance policy stated that communications would be sent home after 10 absences. The board supported a proactive approach to addressing chronic absenteeism and on August 21, revised the attendance policy to the following:
The research supports that ten percent (10%) of the days school is in session or more absences substantially impedes a child’s learning and shall be considered excessive. Any child who has missed ten percent or more days in a school year shall have his/her circumstances, including academic achievement, reviewed by school personnel. Unexcused absences may result in disciplinary action. Findings may result in a truancy referral to the Story County Attorney’s Office.
As noted in the policy, the research supports that missing ten percent (10%) or more of school days substantially impedes a child’s learning. As a district, we found that the change to 10% allows us to address student absences earlier in the year to offer support to students and families to attend school every day. A committee on attendance suggested that each building look at attendance numbers every 6 weeks throughout the school year and to send communications home about their specific child. The first 6-week interval ended on October 4, and students who have missed 10% or more days, in this case 3 total days from the beginning of school, will receive a letter from their building.
This letter serves a couple different functions. First, it is a way to officially correspond with parents regarding their student’s attendance, and a copy of the letter will be put in the student’s cumulative file. Secondly, it is a way to raise awareness of attendance to families and at each school building.
Because it has only been 6 weeks, we understand that there are some students who may have been sick and missed 3 or more days. Don’t panic. This letter is being sent to all parents regardless of whether the 3 days are parent excused or unexcused absences. If your student was sick during the first 6 weeks of school but normally has a great attendance record, then don’t worry. The attendance numbers after 12 weeks will look great. If you were surprised that your students had already missed 3 days of school, then we hope that this reminder serves as an opportunity to course correct our habits. Attendance is important, and we need your help to ensure that each student is prepared for class and receiving the education they deserve in the classroom. We are in this together so if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the school’s directly.
Here is a copy of the 6 week attendance letter: