The Benefits of Good Attendance

Benefits for students and parents

Did you know that a student who misses two days of school each month is considered chronically absent by the end of a school year? Another interesting fact: students who are chronically absent in kindergarten almost always read below their peers who attended school regularly when tested five years later in fifth grade. This is despite a school’s extensive efforts to catch these students up each year.

Attending school regularly is essential to the academic success of students. The leading indicator that a student will drop out of school and not earn a high school diploma is chronic absenteeism in the sixth grade.

It is in all our collective best interest to ensure students do not follow this trend and become high school dropouts. I am not declaring that all dropouts are unable to sustain a livable wage; however, on average, a high school dropout is significantly more likely to face a life filled with lower wages and higher unemployment. This trend can lead to more crime in a community if not corrected.

Benefits for Schools

Texas is one of only seven states in the entire nation that uses an average daily attendance-based system to fund public schools. Public schools in Texas that serve the most impoverished students also struggle to remediate instruction for these students when they miss more school than their affluent peers; this means that affluent schools with higher attendance rates earn more money per child than the schools that serve the “at-risk” students.

How is this at all equitable?

It isn’t, and educational leaders across the state who struggle to do more with less will tell you the same.

There are just over 5.5 million students served in Texas public schools, and schools across the state average a 95% attendance rate; this means that about 275,000 students are not earning funding from the state for their education each year. To put this in perspective, Texas is not paying to educate more Texas students than all students in the state of West Virginia. With an overall educational budget of about 55 billion, of which about 40% are directly derived from state funds. Each student in Texas brings in just under $10,000 a year for his or her school if he or she has 100% attendance. But… they don’t.

So, the state budgets 55 billion a year for education and only spends 95% of the money. You may ask, where does the other money go? Back into the general state fund. Why should this money not go towards student education as it was initially intended? Especially since it costs exponentially more money to remediate a student who has been frequently absent.

What can you do to help?

First, make school attendance a priority for you and your family. Next, share with other concerned citizens and parents so they can also be aware of the chasm caused by the state’s flawed educational funding system. Last, contact your state legislators and tell them Texas should move to a system that measures and funds all students enrolled in a school district instead of a system that creates a larger division between the haves and have nots.

Column by Dr. Enos


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