Oct. 5, 2022 — Kids will miss some school. It’s inevitable for children to occasionally get sick or have a dentist appointment or want to spend a long weekend with grandma and grandpa.
What wasn’t inevitable was COVID-19, a world-wide pandemic that changed much of what society once called “normal.” The worst of the over two-year upheaval caused by the pandemic appears to be over, but attendance numbers have not bounced back. Siuslaw School District is focusing on bringing attendance to levels even higher than they were before the pandemic.
Siuslaw School District “administrator-in-training” Max Perry has been given the project of moving those numbers in a positive direction. He’s has been looking at the data and exploring ways to motivate kids to show up to school every day.
Last year, the numbers of days missed by students was very high, as is to be expected as the district transitioned out of the pandemic.
If a student missed more than 10% of their school days, they are considered to be in the “chronic” category of absence. 261 Siuslaw High students were considered chronically absent during the 2021-22 school year.
If a student missed more than 20% of their school days, they are considered to be in the “chronic severe” category of absence. 119 Siuslaw High students were considered chronic severely absent during the 2021-22 school year.
2021-22 started with students in masks and ended with COVID-19 still spreading through staff and student body at Siuslaw schools. Those numbers from last year were still most likely much higher than what would be normal.
Regardless, education experts across the country agreed that student attendance is a huge indicator of future success. Now that the pandemic is nearly over, Siuslaw School District is looking at what it can do to get students in class every day.
Statistics show a direct correlation between school attendance and academic success. In fact, according to the US Department of Education, school attendance is a better indicator of student success than test scores are.
Statistics also speak to success after a student is done with their academic career. The California Department of Education reports that high school dropouts are two and a half times more likely to be on welfare than graduates.
More relevant than any statistics, the skills that are developed by showing up to school regularly will be used for a lifetime. There are the obvious reasons, like keeping up with daily lessons, but the less immediate reasons to come to school daily are even more important.
Learning how to connect with other humans is one of the keys to happiness.
In addition, learning how to interact with peers on a day-to-day basis is also invaluable, because they will repeatedly use that skill in the workforce later in life. Having to spend time with the same people every day and learning to “get along” and accept their idiosyncrasies is a skill that many adults struggle with.
According to Perry, school is typically a child’s first chance to be part of a community. This is a youth’s opportunity to develop relationships by interacting with peers on a regular basis. Finding the community that they fit in in this big world of billions of people might be the most important skill to develop for future happiness.
Perry said regular attendance requires a student to develop a routine, another skill that would pay off for a lifetime. Finding a daily routine that work for you, as an individual, is a skill that if mastered early can pay off exponentially.
It has been shown that attendance is most likely the most important factor in academic success. By striving for good attendance, youth will learn that simply showing up is an important factor in future success in all facets of life.
Last year, at Siuslaw High School, the attendance rate was 82%, meaning if a child was enrolled for all 171 days of the school year, they would be in school an average of 140 of those days. Siuslaw’s goal is to get that number to 90%. That percentage would have a student in class 154 of the 171 days.
An old proverb says, “it takes a village to raise a child”.
Perry could use the “village” of Florence’s help in providing motivational tools to promote good school attendance. Whether it is prizes, gift cards or an experience to reward students for simply showing up every day, Perry hopes to promote a symbiotic relationship between the citizens of Florence and the youth who attend area schools.
If you are an individual or business owner who would like to help give student’s incentive for good attendance or can give a unique insight as to why “showing up” matters, email Perry at [email protected].
For more information on the Siuslaw School District, go to www.siuslaw.k12.or.us.