Children who are chronically absent in preschool, kindergarten and first grade are much less likely to read at grade level by the third grade, says the U.S. Department of Education. Students who cannot read at grade level by the end of the third grade are four times more likely than proficient readers to drop out of high school.
Varnett's goal is to have 98 percent student attendance districtwide and at each of the campuses, said Dr. Margaret Stroud, Varnett's superintendent. "We try to catch absentees early on," Dr. Stroud said.
Here's Varnett's attendance policy:
- On the first absence, clerks will call parents to learn the student's whereabouts.
- Teachers will call parents after the second day of absence.
- After the third absence, parents will receive an attendance alert notice. Clerks will print the notice for dissemination to students.
- After the fifth day of absence, the campus director will have a conference with the parent.
- Absences should not reach six days without any action.
- After 10 absences, the student will be withdrawn from school.
According to the Texas Education Agency, missing school for 10 days is considered chronic absenteeism.
Dr. Stroud emphasized that parents should try to schedule any doctor's appointments for their child after 10:30 a.m. when the student attendance count is made.
Why is early attendance important? "Most of the time, the first subjects of the day are reading and math," she said. "Those are two crucial subjects."