September is School Attendance Awareness Month

September 1, 2021
Children wearing backpacks and running in to school

It’s September, which means it’s time for thousands of Washington’s kids to head back to school, and we can play a role in ensuring they attend regularly. During Attendance Awareness Month, DCYF is coming together with other public agencies, educators, schools, public officials, civic organizations, businesses, and families to promote school attendance so children have an opportunity to learn and flourish.

Being absent from school just two days each month for any reason equates to missing 10% of instructional time and valuable information needed to ensure academic progress. Youth most likely to be absent from school are students of color, students experiencing poverty, and students experiencing homelessness. Promoting regular school attendance is important for all students but critical for our most vulnerable youth. Communities across the country have started helping schools address chronic absences by building public awareness and leveraging resources. Below is the vision for attendance from our partners at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).

  • Absences can reflect inequities created by our systems (education, economic, transportation, health)
  • Absences can signal when a student or family might need more support
  • Absences are a signal that cues us to take an inquiry stance and get curious about why students aren’t attending
  • Students and families are often our best source of information to understand how to increase attendance and engagement
  • Attendance is a stepping stone to engagement; a necessary precursor of engagement or mastery
  • Attendance tells us when a student has accessed instruction
  • Responding to absences is more effective when it is positive and proactive, not punitive

Taking action to engage students and families is essential for addressing the absenteeism, enrollment declines, and educational inequities that have worsened with the COVID-19 pandemic. This month, please join DCYF and communities across Washington State in supporting school attendance. To get started, visit the Attendance Works or OSPI websites for resources to promote school attendance this month and all year long.