“School attendance is a powerful predictor of student outcomes. In fact, irregular attendance can be a better predictor of whether students will drop out of school before graduation than test scores.”

                                                                                                                     – U.S. Department of Education

Jean Skorapa is the superintendent of RSU 5, which includes the towns of Freeport, Durham and Pownal.

In a student’s K-12 career, there are 2,275 school days in which to receive the instruction and support required to prepare them to pursue their passion after high school graduation. Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10% or more of the school year, or 18 days, regardless if the absence is excused or unexcused. However, missing 12.5 days a year, every year, although not considered chronic absenteeism, equates to missing nearly a full year of schooling in a child’s educational career.

Research from the U.S. Department of Education demonstrates that regular school attendance is a critical factor in academic achievement at all grade levels. Chronic absenteeism, even as early as kindergarten, correlates with reduced achievement in literacy and math that lasts for multiple years. In addition, there is a demonstrated negative impact on the social/emotional development of children who are regularly absent from school as they do not have an opportunity to learn how to play with peers. Sadly, at the middle and high school levels, chronic absenteeism is one of the strongest predictors that a student will fail to graduate on time or will drop out of school.

Some children face challenges that impact regular attendance such as academic struggles, illness, chronic health conditions, mental health issues or homelessness. Others miss days for routine appointments or family trips; all which result in accumulated absences. However, we know that regardless of the reason for the absence, regular school attendance is more important now than ever, as so many children missed a great deal of instruction due to COVID illness and school shutdowns.

Research indicates that a positive school climate results in improved attendance. In a climate such as this, students feel comfortable at school and excited about learning. In RSU 5, we are committed to ensuring that all students experience a joyful learning environment that is safe, nurturing and fosters curiosity. We encourage all families who are experiencing difficulty with regular attendance to contact the school to develop a plan of support. We are standing by to help.

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