Just to be Clear – Kids Need to BE HERE!

DoD Emphasizes the Importance of School Attendance

Research has proven that there is a high correlation between school attendance and academic performance and success, while absence from school is often the greatest single cause of poor performance and achievement. School attendance issues have been identified as a serious issue for children throughout the United States, and military children are no exception. Specific attendance concerns include increased chronic absenteeism and tardiness and excessive early dismissals. While not an issue of formal attendance, but “time in school,” there is also great concern over the number of days military children are missing school during Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves.  These are not issues that public school superintendents can solve on their own. Studies suggest that the most successful efforts to increase daily student attendance included engaging the families and communities.  To increase attendance among military children, the Department of Defense Education Activity  (DoDEA) has developed a comprehensive, multifaceted and integrated informational campaign called, “BE HERE” to highlight the importance of school attendance.

The slogan “BE HERE,” represents a multi-pronged, informational campaign that will leverage DoD leadership to communicate the important message that for students to learn and ultimately be successful, they need to “BE HERE.” Over the past several years, organizations such as the Bureau of Educational Research have provided data leading to some staggering conclusions that may help families understand the possible consequences of absenteeism. These data suggest that increased absences in kindergarten are associated with lower academic performance in 1st grade. By 6th grade above average absence is a clear predictor of drop-out. By 9th grade, missing 20 percent of the school year is a better predictor of dropping out than test scores. [i]

The “BE HERE” campaign will be launched this school year to inform parents and to raise awareness that attendance is critical to student success.  Key messages will focus on the premise that Attendance is Critical to School Success!

  • School exposes children to language-rich environments they may not have at home. It also helps children learn vital socialization skills.
  • Learning is a progressive activity; each day’s lessons build upon those of the previous days.
  • Students who miss too much school fall behind and have a hard time catching up. On average it takes three days to make up for one missed day.
  • Good attendance builds habits, essential for success in school and life. Habits developed early are likely to continue – good or bad.
  • Attendance indicates an engaged student; absences can signal disengagement.
  • Too many students missing too many days slow down classroom instruction and can negatively affect school climate. Teachers end up having to spend too much time on remediation and catch up.
  • In states where funding depends on enrollment, good attendance pays. For each day a child is absent, the school loses out on critical funding.[ii]

The campaign takes the unique challenges military children and families experience into consideration with its key messaging. While it is appropriate for families to reintegrate and for students to be out of school for a time, it is also critical to balance this with the educational needs of students.  Extended periods of time away from school can set students back significantly and cause delays in ascension to the next grade and even graduation.  Students of military families need to be in school, but in the situations when they are not, they should have a plan to catch up on educational material missed.

The goal around this campaign is to raise awareness and emphasize the importance of children from kindergarten through twelfth grade being in school on time, everyday, all day.

[i] Chang, Hedy & Romero, Mariajose, Present, Engaged & Accounted For: The Critical Importance of Addressing Chronic Absence in the Early Grades, National Center for Children in Poverty: NY: NY, September 2008.

[ii] Attendance Works Tools For Attendance Presentations: http://www.attendanceworks.org/