How to Write a School Attendance Policy That Improves Attendance

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Attendance is one of the biggest indicators of school success. Students who attend school regularly are naturally exposed to more than those who are routinely absent. Furthermore, absences can quickly add up. A student who misses an average of twelve days a year from kindergarten through twelfth grade will miss 156 days of school which nearly translate to an entire year.  Schools must do everything within their limited power to compel parents to get their children to school.

Adopting and maintaining a strict school attendance policy is a necessity for every school.

Sample School Attendance Policy

Because we are concerned about your child’s safety and well-being, we ask that you notify the school by phone the morning the student is absent by 10:00 AM. Failure to do this will result in the student receiving an unexcused absence.

Types of absences are:

Excused: An absence due to illness, doctor’s appointment, or serious illness or death of a family member. Students must go to the teachers and request make-up work immediately upon their return. The number of days absent plus one will be allowed for every consecutive day missed. The first five absences will only require a phone call to be excused. However, any absence after five will require a call and a doctor’s note upon the return of the student to be excused.

Explained: An explained absence (not an absence due to illness, doctor’s appointment, serious illness, or death of a family member) is when a parent/guardian takes the student out of school with the principal’s prior knowledge and approval.

Students will be required to obtain assignments for classes to be missed and an assignment form completed prior to leaving the school. The assignments will be due on the day the student returns to school. Failure to follow this policy will result in the absence being recorded as an unexcused absence.

Extra-Curricular Activity Absences: Students are allowed 10 activity absences. Activity absence is any absence that is school related or school sponsored. Extra-curricular activities include, but are not limited to, field trips, competitive events, and student activities.

Truancy: A student who leaves school without parental consent or is absent from school on a regular basis without school authorization, or has a high rate of absenteeism shall be reported to the County District Attorney. Parents/Guardians are compelled to send their child to school and could incur legal liability for failure to do so.

Unexcused: An absence in which the student is out of school that does not qualify as excused or explained. The student will be brought to the office for disciplinary action and will receive no credit (0’s) for all class work missed. When a parent does not call to report an absence by 10:00 AM the morning of an absence, the school will attempt reach the parents at home or work. The principal can determine or change an absence from excused to unexcused, or from unexcused to excused.

Excessive Absences:

  1. A letter will be sent informing any parent when their child has 5 total absences in a semester. This letter is meant to serve as a warning that attendance may be becoming an issue.
  1. A letter will be sent informing any parent when their child has 3 total unexcused absences in a semester. This letter is meant to serve as a warning that attendance is becoming an issue.
  2. After 10 total absences in a semester, the student will be required to make up each additional absence through Summer School or they will not be promoted to the next grade level. For example, 15 total absences in a semester will require 5 days of Summer School to make up those days.
  3. After 5 total unexcused absences in a semester, the student will be required to make up each additional absence through Summer School in May, or they will not be promoted to the next grade level. For example, 7 total unexcused absences will require 2 days of Summer School to make up those days.
  4. If a student has 10 unexcused absences in a semester, the parents/guardians will be reported to the local district attorney. The student is also subject to automatic grade retention.
  1. Attendance letters will be automatically mailed when a student reaches 6 and 10 unexcused absences or 10 and 15 total absences during the school year. This letter is intended to inform the parent/guardian that there is an attendance issue that needs to be corrected along with potential consequences.
  2. Any student having more than 12 unexcused absences or 20 total absences for the entirety of the school year will be automatically retained in the current grade level regardless of academic performance.
  3. An administrator may make exceptions for extenuating circumstances at their discretion. Extenuating circumstances may include hospitalization, long-term illness, the death of an immediate family member, etc.