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Attendance Matters



Woody Allen said that 80% of success in life is just showing up. As adults, it’s easy to recognize the importance of “showing up”. Bosses want assurance we’re working; kids want to see they are important; partners and friends want to be valued. Our presence matters and builds strong long-term relationships.


As students resume in-person learning, school administrators are reminded of just how important regular attendance is to student success. Many students checked out of virtual lessons and districts relaxed the definition of attendance. And when extracurriculars were canceled, schools lost a very powerful carrot to combat absences. Recent test scores in reading and math show just how detrimental the lack of attendance during COVID-19 shutdowns was to student academic success.


Teenagers struggle to understand why attendance is important. The long-term impact of not being in class doesn’t resonate with brains that only understand immediate consequences. But the youth that starts out being disengaged with school, may end up being less engaged with society more broadly. Students must be present to hear classroom teachings; even if they aren’t fully paying attention, some content does get through by simply showing up and hearing the lesson. Attending class, connecting with teachers and peers, and completing assignments in real-time: all of these actions when done consistently are significant in shaping one’s motivation to set and work towards life's pending short and long-term goals.


Because extracurriculars have attendance requirements, teachers and coaches can leverage participation as a means to increase attendance. If you don’t attend school, you can’t play in the game - that’s an immediate consequence students understand. The beneficial side effect of consistent attendance is greater academic achievement. In the National Education Longitudinal Study that surveyed eighth graders, results suggested participation in extracurricular activities was positively associated with consistent attendance, higher academic performance, and a strong desire to continue their education after high school.1


In honor of September's National Attendance Month and the new school year, it's a great time for families to make a pledge to be present and participate. We can help our students and our families by building awareness about the connection between school, attendance, and success. And when you support a student in joining an extracurricular, you’re not just supporting a fun activity. You’re creating additional structure and routine that encourages students to show up to ALL of life’s opportunities.




1 Education Corner, https://www.educationcorner.com/k12-extracurricular-activities.html 16 September 2022


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