As we continue to align our work to improve academic outcomes in the communities we serve, we have become aware of the numerous issues that impact a student’s ability to achieve academically. One of these issues, chronic absence, has become a focus of many teachers and principals in our community schools. A child is considered chronically absent if he or she miss 10 percent or more days of school. At many schools, there are 180 days of school, meaning that students who miss 18 days fall into this category. This is only two or three days per month, and includes excused and unexcused absences. Approximately seven percent of students are severely chronically absent in UWSL’s Community Schools. To increase our knowledge of this issue and develop ways that we can support our schools, members of the Collective Impact Department of United Way of Salt Lake attended the Every Day Counts Conference.
The two goals of the conference were to develop an awareness of the consequences of chronic absenteeism for student outcomes and explore strategies that can be employed to increase attendance and mitigate the effects of chronic absence. National and local leaders in the dialogue around chronic absence spoke about the connection between attendance and student outcomes. We also shared best practices that have proven effective in raising awareness of the importance of attending school regularly. The conference was well attended and provided a great forum to hear various perspectives on this important issue.
We are excited to continue these conversations with members of our school teams to develop strategies that will increase attendance at our community schools. By raising awareness of the importance of attendance, we hope to improve the academic outcomes for these students in the communities we serve.