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Absenteeism In School Starts Early, And Missed Days Add Up

A recent report found that asthma is the main reason students of all ages are absent.


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Bob Sanborn with Children at Risk speaks with other education advocates at a Houston elementary school
Laura Isensee
Bob Sanborn, president and CEO of the advocacy group Children at Risk, said that parenting skills need to be part of public policy.

One major clue to how well students will perform in school is attendance. And a recent report found that missing a lot of school — or chronic absenteeism— can become a problem as early as kindergarten. Some of the youngest students miss just as much class as teenagers in high school.

"Our best efforts to improve student achievement and fix failing schools simply won't work if kids aren't coming to school," said Julie Baker Finck, president of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation.

She highlighted the importance of school attendance at a recent press conference about parent engagement hosted by the advocacy group, Children at Risk.

In Texas, 17 percent of fourth graders have poor attendance, according to a recent report by two nonprofits, Attendance Works and Healthy Schools Campaign. They found that the attendance rate is even worse for low-income children.

Those missed days add up because students who are absent suffer academically and may even drop out.

"So, parents, make attendance a priority this school year and reach out to your child's school for assistance to removing barriers to attendance," Finck said.

The report found that asthma is the main reason students of all ages are absent. The chronic lung disease is more common in families who live in poverty.

Dental problems and other physical and mental health concerns also caused students to miss school.