City of Tulare Announces Local Efforts to Recognize September as School Attendance Awareness Month

The City of Tulare’s Mayor David Macedo, Tulare City School District’s Superintendent, Dr. Clare Gist, Tulare Joint Union High School District’s Superintendent, Dr. Sarah Koligian and the Tulare Interim Chief of Police, Wes Hensley, have joined a nationwide effort to celebrate School Attendance Awareness Month in September and have pledged to raise awareness about the value of regular school attendance and focus on reducing chronic absenteeism in the new school year.

Tulare City (Elementary) School District and Tulare Joint Union High School District recognize that good attendance is essential to academic success.

But far too many students are at risk academically because they are chronically absent. (Chronic absence is described as missing 10 percent of the school year—or about 18 days – for any reason, excused or unexcused.)

That’s the point at which absenteeism begins to seriously affect student performance, research shows.

Starting as early as preschool, chronic absence predicts lower 3rd grade reading scores and students who do not read proficiently by the 3rd grade are four times more likely to become high school drop-outs.

Chronic absence touches a significant number of children in our community, creating attendance gaps that affect achievement in our local schools.

This is not just a matter of truancy. Several children, especially in the early grades, miss too much school because of chronic health problems, or housing moves—barriers that city agencies and community partners can help families address.

“This issue matters to all of us, not just those with school-age children,” Mayor Macedo said. “When our schools graduate more students, on time, our communities and our economy are stronger. We have more people who are prepared for the workplace and more engaged in our community’s civic life.”

Tulare City School District Superintendent, Dr. Clare Gist states, “It is of great importance that we educate our school community about the correlation between good attendance and success in school, and that means starting as early as preschool.”

Tulare Joint Union High School District Superintendent, Dr. Sarah Koligian says “Our schools, parents, and community need to work together to ensure that our students are attending school every day to maximize access to a quality education and to ensure they cross the finish line and graduate.”

In September, schools, city agencies, community nonprofits, faith-based groups, businesses and others around the nation are committing time and resources to raise public awareness, map local attendance gaps and work with community partners to improve school attendance starting as soon as children enter school.

“September is a particularly good time to focus on attendance,” said Hedy Chang, Director of Attendance Works, a national nonprofit dedicated to improve school attendance, “Research shows that students who miss two to four days in the first month of school are more likely to become chronically absent during the school year. By paying attention to absences early in the school year and early in a child’s academic career, we can turn around attendance and achievement.”

“Truancy and poor school attendance has been clearly identified as an early warning sign for potential substance abuse, delinquency, teen pregnancy, and criminal activity,” says Interim Chief of Police Wes Hensley

During Attendance Awareness Month, we are asking school leaders, community advocates, parents and students to act upon these critical first steps to help stem chronic absenteeism:

  • Encourage the building of a community culture that promotes regular school attendance.
  • Use data to determine when and with whom chronic absence is a problem
  • Identify and address barriers to getting children to school
  • Join local school districts in addressing the barriers to getting children and youth to school

Study after study shows that chronic absence is an early warning indicator that a student will drop out of a high school.

High school drop-outs are ineligible for 90% of the jobs in our nation. The U.S., which had some of the highest graduation rates of any developed country, now ranks 22nd out of 27 developed countries.

— Mayor David Macedo; Tulare City School District Superintendent, Dr. Clare Gist; Tulare Joint Union High School Superintendent, Dr. Sarah Koligian; Tulare City School District Board of Trustees; Tulare Joint Union High School Board of Trustees; and Tulare Interim Chief of Police

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