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September 13, 2013
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Nevada County school chief stresses importance of attendance

Nevada County Superintendent of Schools Holly Hermansen joined a nationwide effort to celebrate Attendance Awareness Month this September and has pledged to raise awareness about the value of regular school attendance and focus on reducing chronic absenteeism in the new school year.

The Nevada County Superintendent of Schools recognizes that good attendance is essential to academic success, but far too many students are at risk academically because they are chronically absent, she said in a press release.

Chronic absence is described as missing 10 percent of the school year — or about 18 days — for any reason, excused or unexcused.

Nationally, as many as one out of 10 students miss 10 percent of the school year in excused and unexcused absences every year, yet chronic absence remains a hidden problem because schools track only average daily attendance and truancy (unexcused absences).

Research shows chronic absence predicts lower third-grade reading proficiency, course failure and eventual dropout, which hits low-income students particularly hard, especially if they don’t have the resources to make up for lost time in the classroom.

These students are also more likely to face barriers to getting to school, such as unreliable transportation and chronic health issues.

During September, schools, city agencies, community nonprofits, faith-based groups, businesses and others around the nation are coming together to deliver the message that every school day counts.

They are committing time and resources to raise public awareness, dig deeper into attendance data and work with community partners to improve school attendance starting as soon as children enter school.

School leaders, community advocates, parents and students are asked to act upon these critical steps to help stem chronic absenteeism in their schools, including building a culture of regular attendance, solving barriers to getting children to school and creating positive and supportive school environments.

Missing 10 percent of kindergarten is associated with poor academic performance in first grade. In sixth grade, chronic absences are a clear indicator of a student who will likely not graduate from high school. By ninth grade, missing 20 percent of the school year is a better predictor of dropping out than test scores, according to Attendance Works, an Oakland based nonprofit group that organized a nationwide initiative.

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The Union Updated Sep 16, 2013 01:42AM Published Sep 17, 2013 11:22AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.