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BCSD Announces Efforts to Celebrate National Attendance Awareness Month

Baldwin County School District has joined a nationwide effort to celebrate the Attendance Awareness Campaign in September and has pledged to focus on reducing chronic absenteeism in the new school year.

Baldwin County recognizes that good attendance is essential to academic success. However, far too many students are at risk academically because they are chronically absent. Chronic absence is described as missing 10% of the school year—or about 18 days— for any reason.

Our country faces a school attendance crisis. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 8 million students were chronically absent. Early data from states indicates that it has likely doubled, potentially affecting nearly 16 million students nationwide by the end of the 2021–2022 school year.

Starting as early as kindergarten or even preschool, chronic absence predicts lower 3rd-grade reading scores. By middle school, it’s a warning sign that students will fail key classes and drop out of high school, research shows.

Chronic absence disproportionately affects children from low-income families and communities of color, creating attendance gaps that exacerbate achievement gaps in local schools. This is not just a matter of truancy. Many children, especially in the early grades, miss too much school because of chronic health problems, unreliable transportation, or housing moves—barriers that city agencies and community partners can help families address.

“Increasing student attendance is one of our primary goals," said BCSD Superintendent Dr. Noris Price, "As more students successfully graduate within the expected timeframe, our communities and economy gain increased vitality and experience. This results in a greater number of individuals who are adequately equipped for the workforce and actively participating in our community's civic activities.”

In September, schools, city agencies, community nonprofits, faith-based groups, businesses, and others around the nation are committing time and resources to raise public awareness, map local attendance gaps, and work with community partners to improve school attendance and student engagement starting as soon as children enter school. Baldwin has committed many resources to increasing mentorship among the Baldwin Community.

“September is a particularly good time to focus on attendance,” said Hedy Chang, executive director of Attendance Works, a national nonprofit initiative dedicated to improving school attendance. “Research shows that students who miss two to four days in the first month of school are more likely to become chronically absent during the school year. By paying attention to absences early in the school year and early in a child’s academic career, we can turn around attendance and achievement.”

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