As students, parents and local neighborhoods gear up for another school year, Mt. Diablo school district Interim Superintendent John Bernard sent a message to the community via the Contra Costa Times, reminding everyone about the importance of getting to class.
Here is his message, which was published last Sunday. I am posting it below to allow for blog reader comment.
“Making Sure Kids Stay in School is Everyone’s Business
When you are absent in the workplace, you could miss important training that might allow you to perform more efficiently and to advance yourself.
It is the same for students in our schools.
When a student is absent from school, regardless of the reason, important learning can be missed. In the early grades, being absent could mean missing the experience of writing a class story about, for example, observing how steam cools and collects on a mirror to become water droplets.
In the middle grades, being absent could mean missing the important lesson on short cuts in dividing fractions. At the upper grades, it could mean missing the class discussion about Jane Austin’s book, ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ or learning about the unique biological differences between two similar reptiles.
The learning a person acquires during important lessons often serves as building blocks of knowledge for future comprehension, understanding and success in school.
Educators and parents are not the only persons concerned about student attendance and its impact on student achievement. In the cities and communities that make up the Mount Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD), civic leaders, religious leaders, business owners, and community individuals are concerned as well.
While teachers and principals focus their energies on educating the student, it is next to impossible to ensure that the knowledge has been acquired if the student is absent from school.
Following are some ideas on how parents, schools and the community can support student attendance and positively impact student achievement.
Parents can help by:
• Monitoring bedtime to ensure that your child is well rested.
• Helping your children develop a morning routine so they arrive at school on time ready to learn.
• Monitoring study time and provide assistance with homework when necessary.
• Helping your child develop a positive attitude about school, include good study habits, a love of books and reading, and respect for those who lead and teach them.
• Showing an interest in your children’s learning to help make school a place where children want to go.
Schools in the districts can help by:
• Acknowledging and rewarding students and their parents when students have good attendance.
• Reminding parents of the importance of attendance and encouraging parents to use independent study when their child will be absent for five days or more.
• Developing intervention programs to work positively with families whose children are truant.
• Showing an interest in each student’s learning to help make school a place where children want to be.
• Informing parents of how much district revenue has been lost based upon the number of absences the previous month ($52.31 per student per day in MDUSD).
Community and businesses also can help:
• Doctors and other medical professionals – please schedule routine medical appointments for school-aged children outside the school day.
• Law enforcement officers – please investigate school-age children who are observed not being in school, and not accompanied by their parent/guardian.
• Judicial officials – please insist that parents take responsibility for their child’s attendance in school.
• Retail businesses – please do not sell to school-age children during the school day unless they are high school age and it is during lunchtime.
• General businesses and community – please contribute “incentive awards” to schools for students who have good attendance.
Additionally, quite a few years ago, State legislation no longer allowed school districts to include excused absences for attendance reporting toward reimbursement.
The State only provides funding for school days when a student is physically in attendance. Therefore, not attending school because of a doctor or dentist visit, funerals, court appearances and being ill will penalize school funding at a time when there is already limited money.
Through a concerned community effort, supported by parents, schools and the community working together to improve student attendance, the Mount Diablo Unified School District goal of increased student achievement will be realized.
Dr. John Bernard, a Bay Area native, serves as the interim superintendent for the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. He has more than 43 years experience in public education, with 19 years as a superintendent or a state administrator.”
Do you think improved attendance rates in the district would boost student achievement?