Attendance Matters!

Attendance Matters!
Posted on 05/17/2023

Attendance Matters!
By: Julie Lower, MMS Principal

            Every public school in the state of Missouri gets “graded” through what is called the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP 6).  MSIP 6 “is focused on continuous improvement for all schools, the preparation of each student for life beyond high school and promoting practices that lead to healthy school systems. MSIP 6 will take a closer look at what districts are doing to implement effective practices and sustain improvements, while increasing the focus on individual student growth.”  If you go to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website, search Missouri School Improvement Program, then click on MSIP 6 Comprehensive Guide, you will get a 91-page document that explains everything districts and schools need to do to meet the goals set by the state.

            Schools get “graded” in several areas, including attendance.  Every minute a student is not in school (unless it is a school-sponsored event) counts against their attendance that is reported to the state.  At the end of the year, that attendance is calculated per student and the school gets points towards their attendance “grade.”  Ideally, we want every student in every school to be above 90% attendance for the year.

            There are many reasons why having great attendance is important.  Yes, a school district gets money for every student in attendance.  Yes, great student attendance helps the school/district’s “grade.”  Yes, when students are in school, they learn and will probably do better on state testing as a result, which is an area that schools get “graded.”  But the most important reason for great attendance is what the students get.  Great attendance is a life skill.  You learn to show up.  And when you show up, you get better.  And when you get better, then you start to get great. And the cycle repeats in everything you do just by showing up.

            Throughout this 2nd semester, MMS has been working hard on their student attendance goals.  We had two building-wide attendance incentives during 2nd semester. The first one was 95% attendance over a 4-week period and the students received a reward of an hour of "Talk and Tech" off from class.  The second one was 97% attendance during a 4-week period and those kids got to go to Lunch on the Town where they got a bus ride with a teacher to their favorite fast food restaurant and bought their lunch. It really boosted the building's attendance throughout 2nd semester. 

We also selected a group of students for small-group interventions. We put kids into teams of 12 with an attendance coach. The coach was tasked with connecting with those students at least twice a week to give encouragement and positive reinforcement for coming to school regularly.  It’s been great to see how making those strong connections with students has helped them want to come to school more consistently. 

            To put this in an easy perspective, when a student misses 2 days of school per month: they will miss 20 days a year; they will miss 30 hours of math instruction over the year; they will miss 60 hours of reading and writing instruction over the year; they will miss over 1 YEAR of school by the time they graduate.  Attendance matters!