Alden Jack, director of educational equity and inclusion, Cache County School District
Why Attendance Matters
Academic success starts with attendance. Attendance also has a huge impact on students’ social success and is an important life skill that will help your child graduate from college and keep a job. Like many school districts around the country, Cache County School District has experienced an unprecedented increase in student absenteeism in our schools.
Cache County School District’s primary goal is to ensure that students have access to and benefit from all that our schools have to offer. This can only be achieved when students are supported in achieving consistent attendance in the classroom. The Utah State Board of Education defines consistent attendance as missing fewer than 10 school days during the school year, including excused and unexcused absences. In order for students to stay engaged, successful, and on track, it is recommended that families set goals to miss no more than nine days of school.
Five-Year Attendance Summary
Students in Utah schools attend a 180-day academic year. Utah defines chronic absenteeism as missing 10% of days enrolled, or 18 days of school. Attendance research shows that students who miss more than 10% of school days are significantly more at risk for falling behind in school.
In the 2018-19 school year (pre-pandemic), only 10% of the school district’s students missed more than 18 days of school or were chronically absent. By the 2022-23 school year (postpandemic), this number nearly doubled to 19% of students, or approximately 4,000 students who were chronically absent from school.
Truancy and chronic absenteeism are complicated issues that have widespread impacts on students, families, and the community. Recovery efforts will require an “all-hands-on-deck” response from students, families, and the school community to support our students in achieving consistent school attendance.
What Families Can Do to Support Positive Attendance
Portrait of a happy Latin American teacher reading a book with a student at the school and having fun – education conceptsDistrict Action Steps
The District is taking several key action steps to support students, families, and our community in securing positive school attendance:
- Foster a positive school environment that promotes healthy social connections among students and encourages family engagement.
- Raise awareness about the importance of regular school attendance and how it relates to child development and academic success.
- Use monitoring tools to identify students and families needing support for academics, attendance, behavior, or well-being.
- Collaborate with community organizations to provide parent and caregiver support, such as access to food, housing, and healthcare for families facing challenges related to attendance.