September is Attendance Awareness Month!
While summer is coming to an end, we are in high spirits about starting the new school year off strong! School attendance is absolutely critical for success, and we hope to build momentum early on in the year and ensure solid, steady attendance throughout this entire school year.
We are excited to bring on the fall season with September as Oakland’s annual Attendance Awareness Month. As a reminder, in 2015, Oakland Reads worked with the Oakland City Council and OUSD School Board to issue a proclamation declaring September as Attendance Awareness Month across our city.
It may come as no surprise to learn that chronic absence from school can significantly reduce a child’s ability to meet state standards for reading and mathematics testing. Furthermore, data from a California study found that only 43% of kids with “at risk” attendance in Kindergarten and First Grade were able to read at grade level after they reached the 3rd Grade. Chronic absence (missing 18 or more days both years) from Kindergarten and First Grade reduces that number to only 17%.
Poor and chronic attendance is a multifaceted problem, and to properly combat it we must address the concerns that contribute to it. Overall, this means mobilizing family involvement, ensuring consistent and reliable forms of transportation, and addressing health needs.
The good news is that the Oakland Unified School District has been leading the way in recent years in both tracking and addressing chronic absences. Rates in chronic absences went from 16 percent in the 2005-06 school year to 11.9 percent in 2013-14. There is still great work to be done in order to decrease overall absence rates in Oakland and California as a whole; but with strong efforts from educators, staff, parents, and other community efforts, we believe that we can institute a positive trend in school attendance that will carry children through their years of education and beyond.
We encourage you to check out Attendance Works, a national and state initiative that promotes awareness of the importance of school attendance. While you’re there, take a look at their focus on Attendance Awareness Month tool kit with social media promotions and information for parents and schools.