Recent data shows that 14% of kindergarteners, 15% of 8th graders, and 36% of 12th graders were chronically absent in Mississippi. On a local level, 14% of students in the Hattiesburg Public School District were chronically absent, 13.1% in Forrest County, 8.4% in Lamar County, 13.2% in Marion County, and 9.9% in Perry County.
Why does attendance matter?
- Students who are chronically absent (missing more than 10% of school days, including excused, unexcused, and suspensions) are academically at-risk.
- Third graders who are chronically absent are less likely to read on grade-level. In grades kindergarten through third, students are learning to read. After third grade, students are reading to learn.
- By sixth grade, a student's likelihood of graduating high school is closely tied to attendance.
How is United Way SEMS making an impact?
By partnering with educators in the community, United Way SEMS is creating an attendance awareness campaign. Attendance during the first month of school can be a predictor of academic success for the entire year. United Way SEMS and community partners will use the entire month of August to promote the importance of attendance to decrease chronic absenteeism. With regular attendance, students will have a better chance at a better future.
How can you join the fight?
- If you are a parent, make sure your student is in school every day. Every day is a new lesson. Every day counts.
- Talk to your school administration about how they are combating chronic absenteeism.
- Contact Volunteer Southeast MS to learn how you can volunteer at schools to help engage students struggling due to a lack of attendance.
- Ask the question, "Is your child in school today?". Strive to make sure the answer is "YES!".
How can you help your child succeed?
- Know what day school starts, and help your child get excited about going.
- Create a routine at home that encourages attendance: lay out clothes the night before, place the backpack in the same spot every night, wake up at the same time every morning.
- Keep a chart of your child's attendance and talk about the importance of going to school. Use stickers and bright colors!
- Don't let your child stay home unless he is truly sick. Sometimes complaints of a stomach ache and headache can be a sign of anxiety.
- Have a backup plan to get your child to school in case something comes up in the morning. Call on a friend or a neighbor.
- When scheduling medical appointments and travel plans, avoid times when your child is in school.
- To help your child stay engaged, encourage meaningful afterschool activities, such as sports or clubs. School officials may be able to help you find the right afterschool program for your child.