School attendance is a powerful predictor of academic success. Research shows students who come to school each day establish a feeling of belonging and create a solid foundation of knowledge and skills.
Many times, people believe students who are considered “chronically absent” miss huge chunks of time in school. However, chronic absenteeism is defined as students missing 10% or more of school hours. This means missing just two to three days each month can easily add up, and result in a month of missed learning in one academic school year. For students, this can lead to reading struggles in elementary school, decreased achievement in middle school and eventually, difficulty graduating from high school.
In 2016, the state of Ohio passed House Bill 410, which defined school attendance for all Ohio public schools. It limits the number of absences a student can have – whether excused or unexcused. Hudson City Schools will only accept 10 parent excusal notes each year for a student at all grade levels. After those 10 absences, an Excessive Absence Letter is sent home, and students are required to provide a doctor’s note. These letters are sent, whether the absences are considered excused or unexcused.
The absentee problem is so widespread among Ohio school districts that the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce established a task force of school and business leaders to tackle the problem. They have provided a list of recommendations, which include building community awareness and increasing family engagement.
Although absenteeism was certainly a problem prior to COVID, it worsened due to the pandemic. The shift to online learning and remote instruction made school look different for families and students. Some people mistakenly believe that in-person school has less value, when in fact that is not true.
Our students are the reason we are here in school. They are important to us, and we want to see them learn and grow as they move across grade levels and building levels. But in order for that to happen, students need to attend.
When any student has excessive absences, we form an absence intervention team. This team includes the parent and/or guardian, as we attempt to determine why the student is missing so much school. If needed, we put interventions in place to improve attendance. We want to make sure there are no barriers to attending school each and every day.
For more information on Ohio and combating absenteeism, visit education.ohio.gov/topics/student-supports/attendance-support. ∞