The Mukilteo School District is making a special effort to ensure that all students fully benefit from their education by attending school regularly, which helps children feel better about school and themselves. Your child can start building this habit in preschool so he or she will learn right away that it’s important to go to school on time, every day. Did you know?
- Starting in kindergarten, too many absences, both excused and unexcused, can cause a child to fall behind in school.
- Missing 10 percent of school (or about 18 days) increases the chance that a student will not read or master math at the same level as his or her peers.
- Students can still fall behind if they just miss a day or two every few weeks.
- Being late to school may lead to poor attendance.
- Excessive absenteeism by 6th grade is one of three signs that a
student may drop out of high school or not graduate on time.
- By being present at school, your child will learn valuable social skills and will have the opportunity to
develop meaningful relationships with other students and school staff.
- Absences can be a sign that a student is losing interest in school, is struggling with schoolwork, is dealing with a social/emotional issue, a bully, or is facing some other potentially serious difficulty.
- Regular attendance by 9th grade is a better predictor of graduation rates than 8th grade test scores.
- Missing school may mean not completing assignments or completing assignments on time. It also may mean lower test scores, which may result in lower grades and not getting high school credit for a class that a student has taken.
- Beginning with the class of 2021 (this year’s 10th graders), students must earn all 24 of their 24 credit opportunities in order to graduate on time from high school, so every credit counts.
The teachers and other staff members at your child’s school value the contribution of every student and will greatly miss your child if he or she is not in school. We know that there are a wide variety of reasons that cause students to be absent, from health issues to transportation challenges. That’s why many people at your child’s school are prepared to help you if your child is facing challenges getting to school regularly or on time. Those staff members will communicate with you to understand the barriers that cause your child to be absent and will try to identify supports that might be available to help you overcome those challenges.
It’s important that you understand our school policies, as well as Washington state law, with regard to absences from school. You must notify the school as soon as possible when your child will be absent from school. As your child’s parent or guardian, you also must sign a note that explains the reason for your child’s absence and must have the note delivered to school within two days of his or her return to class.
If your child attends elementary school and has five excused absences in any month, or more than 10 excused absences during the school year, the school district is required to contact you to schedule a conference with a staff member to identify the barriers and supports that are available to you and your child. That conference is not required if you have provided a doctor’s note or if you have pre-arranged the absence in writing in advance and you, your child, and the school have made a plan so your child does not fall behind academically. If your child has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Plan, the team that created that plan will need to reconvene.
State law for mandatory attendance, called the Becca Bill, requires that children from age 8 to 17 must attend school or a home-school program that has been approved by the school district. Children who are 6 and 7 years old are not required to be enrolled in school, but if he or she is enrolled, the child must attend school full time. Youth who are 16 years old or older can be excused from attending public school if they meet certain requirements.
If a student has three unexcused absences in one month, state law requires that the school schedule a conference with you and your child to identify barriers and supports that are available to ensure your child’s regular attendance. The school is obligated to develop a plan that may require an assessment to determine how to best meet the needs of your child and reduce his or her absenteeism.
If a student has seven unexcused absences in a month or 10 unexcused absences within the school year, the school district is required by state law to file a petition with the juvenile court alleging a violation of the state’s mandatory attendance laws. The petition may be automatically stayed and your child and family may be referred to a community truancy board, or you and your child may be asked to appear in juvenile court and face the possibility of a court order to attend school.
For more information, call your child’s school.
WHAT CAN A PARENT DO TO IMPROVE ATTENDANCE?
Here are a few things that parents can do to help assure that their child attends school regularly:
- Set a regular bedtime and morning routine. Make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep.
- Prepare for school the night before by having homework finished.
- Don’t let your child stay home from school unless he or she is truly sick. Keep in mind that complaints of a stomach ache or headache can be a sign of anxiety, but not a reason to stay home.
- Avoid appointments and extended trips while school is in session.
- Develop a back-up plan for getting to school if something comes up. Call on a family member, a neighbor, or another parent to take your child to school.
- Keep track of your child’s attendance. Missing too many days can put your child at risk of falling behind.
- Talk to your child about the importance of attending school.
- Talk to your child’s teacher if you notice a sudden change in behavior. The issue could be tied to something else that is going on at school.
- Encourage your child to be active in meaningful, after-school activities such as sports or clubs.