School officials stress importance of student attendance - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

School officials stress importance of student attendance

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DEXTER, MO (KFVS) - How many days of school did your child miss last year? It could be affecting his/her reading level.

It can be difficult to get back into that school routine, with getting the kids up early and making it to school.

But a study says those days missed are crucial to your child's learning.

"We want them in school, we need them in school and they fall behind when they're not here," said Scott Kruse, the principal at T.S. Hill Middle School in Dexter.

He said it's important for kids to make it to class, even at a young age.

"I just think it's important for them to go to school for them to get a job," said Leta Polley.

Leta Polley has three kids and agrees, good attendance is important.

"I tell them they should go to school and if the school thinks they should be sent home then they can come home,” said Polley. "Unless they have fever then they go to school."

Research from the the organization "Attendance Works" shows one in 10 kids in Kindergarten and 1st grade are chronically absent from school.

That means they're missing 10 percent of the school year or about two days each month.

The research goes on to say there are two big contributing factors to absences: health and transportation problems.

It says that medical conditions like asthma are a big reason kids aren't in class. The group suggests working with doctors to find the best solution.

When families don't have a reliable car, or a student misses the school bus, it can be a cause for most missed days. Attendance Works, suggests car pools to help combat the problem.

So how do the missed days affect the students? After third grade of kids who missed two days a month, only 17 percent could read at grade level, but of kids who missed only a few days 64 percent could read at grade level.

Another study shows when schools helped students stay in class and succeed in ninth grade, they were far more likely stay on track and graduate.

Back in the Heartland, Kruse said they see the importance of attendance, and they're changing their absentee policy this year.

They've worked closely with the juvenile office in Stoddard county, and are now allowing 6 missed school days instead of eight.

"We need the kids here, our teachers work hard obviously, to prepare lessons, we need them here so we don't fall behind," said Kruse.

Cape Girardeau Schools also changed their attendance policy this year. Absences will no longer be recorded as excused or unexcused, and they must be verified by the parents or legal guardian.

To find out the attendance policy for your school, contact your school district officials.

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